Tips from a Megavitamin Mom: Getting Kids to Take Vitamins and Lots of Them
Author: Helen Saul Case
Born and raised in a household where we used vitamins and nutrition instead of drugs, I am very familiar with utilizing high-dose nutrients to prevent and cure illness. I remember taking all those vitamins when I was a kid. And I still take them. I know how well they work. Now, I see how optimal doses of vitamins help keep my children, now 3 and 5, healthy and free of pharmaceuticals. You can do this for your family, too.
How do you get your kids to take vitamins? Which vitamins do they take? How often do they take them? What brands do you buy? How do you get them to take so much vitamin C? What if they don’t want to take it? I get these questions often. I would like to take a moment to answer them.
How do you get your kids to take vitamins?
The number one rule is: keep ’em tasty. For younger children, find a liquid C they like and will swallow. Start young to get them used to it. We started in the hospital within hours of birth. When they were infants, we gave them liquid vitamin C with a dropper. When they got older, a medicine spoon. For kids who chew, chewable tablets work well on a day-to-day, meal-to-meal basis.
Multivitamins also can be given in liquid form. We administered multivitamins this way until the children could eat chewables.
How do you get kids to saturation of vitamin C?
It is winter: the kids have runny noses (at the very least). If they don’t have a cough, some other kid does, and it seems like there is a perpetual wave of illness afflicting your home. It is high time for high dose vitamin C.
Bowel tolerance: an indicator of oral dose vitamin C saturation. Bowel tolerance is indicated by gas, a rumbling stomach, or slightly loose stool. If you take way too much C, very loose stool will result, but goes away once doses are reduced. When bowel tolerance is reached, back off the extra C.
Cathcart RF. Vitamin C, titrating to bowel tolerance, anascorbemia, and acute induced scurvy. Med Hypotheses. 1981 Nov;7(11):1359-76. Free full text: http://www.doctoryourself.com/titration.html
Large doses are needed in order to achieve therapeutic, saturation levels of vitamin C. We do this only when kids get sick, are about to get sick, or are receiving immunizations. We start with a larger “loading dose” in the morning, then continue to give C throughout the day. Once bowel tolerance is reached, we cut back how much C we give and how often we give it, but we continue to give C regularly. We do not allow children to get diarrhea. If symptoms of sickness persist, we do it again the next day, and the next. My brother and I were raised into adulthood without a single dose of any antibiotic. So far, my children have not needed to take an antibiotic, either. We use vitamin C instead.
When we get our kids to saturation, we make sure they stay hydrated with plenty of water. Since high-dose C can take their appetite away, we make sure that during this process, they eat good-for-them food that they enjoy. We also have them drink plenty of fresh, raw, homemade vegetable juice every day. This is also exactly what my parents did with me when I was young.
Remember, if you have a really sick kid, you should go to the doctor. Diagnosis is a valuable tool. However, my husband and I know that if our children’s pediatrician hands us a prescription for an antibiotic, antiviral, antihistamine, or antipyretic; high-dose vitamin C can be used in place of all of them.
“I was always known as a vitamin C nut, but I won many converts, especially during a virus infection. A segment of the population “gets” nutrition issues but a larger segment doesn’t understand.” – Ralph Campbell, MD
What forms of vitamin C do you give your children?
Chewable tablets are not very practical for saturation dose C administration. Liquids come in handy here. We add extra vitamin C crystals to liquid C to increase the potency in order to give high doses, and because C in liquid naturally loses potency as it sits.
Or, when it is time for a dose, we scoop vitamin C powder into their favorite juice and have them drink it down right away.
We add a combination of approximately 80% vitamin C as ascorbic acid crystals and 20% vitamin C calcium ascorbate as a buffer to the juice or liquid C. The more ascorbic acid in the liquid, the more bitter it becomes. Therefore, we follow each dose with a tasty “chaser.” When they get a little older (over age 1) we follow really potent (and therefore more bitter) doses of vitamin C with an unbelievably tasty chaser. They get a small bite of organic ice cream, a little honey, a raisin, more juice, even chocolate: anything to get the job done.
For toddlers and older kids, when they are not getting C in liquid, they can also be given chewable tablets to mix up the form of C to keep it interesting (and more likely to go down the hatch). We offer more than one flavor of chewable C tablets.
We also give liposomal vitamin C. Liposomal C is expensive, but so are doctor’s visits. When we want to get lots of C into our kids, we give any form of C that they will take, and vary the form frequently. When my daughter came down with a swollen sore throat, she could swallow liposomal C when she would not, or could not, easily swallow other forms of C. After each dose, we would let her slurp a homemade frozen juice bar, which she looked forward to having.
What if kids don’t want to take all that vitamin C?
Sometimes our kids will take C like champions. No complaints. They even ask for it when they are not feeling well.
Other times, they fight it tooth and nail. This is when creativity and patience and bribery and love and persistence pay off.
When you are a new parent and are breastfeeding or giving a bottle, you don’t just give up if your child does not eat and get the nutrition he or she needs. You do it until. This is how we feel about vitamin C. We insist they take the C. This is not negotiable. It is that important. But if, for example, they want to watch TV, we say, “Take C, and then you can.” Anything they want to do can be used as a motivator. Sometimes kids don’t want to do what is good for them, so we make it worth their while. I said to our daughter one day, “You have to take your vitamins if you want chocolate ice cream in the morning.”
There’s more. We cuddle them. We praise them. We agree with them that it is hard to take C all the time. And when all else fails, straight up bribery works wonders. At vaccination time, our daughter takes saturation level vitamin C to earn presents.
Giving them C when they wake up at night almost ensures protest, but nobody sleeps if a child coughs until morning. Our daughter will wake up very upset and nearly inconsolable. One night I simply said, “You can cough all night or you can take the C. Your choice.” My daughter chose the C. Other nights, we have to choose for her. We wait it out. Her desire to go back to sleep is often enough reason to come around and take the C.
Toddlers are notoriously contrary. These are the tricks we have employed to get high-dose C into our kids. Infants are not as likely to tell you “no.” Toddlers suffer no such inhibition. Making certain that vitamins are tasty (and seeing to it that you give small doses regularly, throughout the day, with meals) helps them take vitamins without much fuss. When my kids were breastfeeding, I would give them C before nursing and feed them immediately afterward. If they needed more C, I would give them small doses more often. I would also get to bowel tolerance myself, which in turn, would provide vitamin C for them in my breastmilk.
Older kids, who have done this for a while, maybe more used to, and therefore more willing, to take high-dose vitamin C. When I was eight and older, I took the C because I knew it worked. I would do it on my own.
How often do your kids take vitamin C?
At every meal and every snack. We have travel bottles too, for when we are on the road or at a restaurant. If we are sick, we may take vitamin C every 15 minutes to every hour to get to bowel tolerance.
Days before, the day of, and for several days after immunizations, we give saturation dose vitamin C to minimize the risk of side effects from the vaccination, and to help the shot work better. You may notice that your child’s bowel tolerance will be much higher at this time.
How much vitamin C do you give to your children?
On a day-to-day basis, we follow board-certified physician Dr. Frederick R. Klenner’s dosing protocol: They get 1,000 mg of vitamin C per year of age. We started the day they were born with 50 milligrams (mg) per day of vitamin C. As the months went by, we gradually increased the dose. By age one, they were getting 1,000 mg/day. Now our three-year-old gets 3,000 mg/day; our five year old gets 5,000 mg/day. We will continue to increase the dose until they are ten, for a routine dose of 10,000 mg/day. And this is when they are in good health.
They get far more when bowel tolerance doses are needed due to stress, sickness, or shots. For example, after her last immunization, our four-year-old daughter who weighed about 33 pounds at the time, comfortably held 15,000- 20,000 mg of vitamin C a day, and had no negative side effects from the shot. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v11n09.shtml
“What a wonderful world it would be for children if there were more parents following this routine.” – Ken Walker, M.D.
What about getting vitamins from their diet?
One of the best ways to get vitamins into kids is to juice and serve fresh, raw vegetables and fruit, preferably organic. Our kids love homemade vegetable juice. They chug it. I’m not kidding. We make sure they will by blending in sweeter fruits and veggies with the ones that are less so. For example, a family favorite starts with a carrot base, 8 or so, an apple or two, a handful of cabbage, a few handfuls of spinach, and several stalks of celery and a beet, leaves included.
My kids are getting far more vegetables (and therefore nutrients) in their diet than most. Sure, we get them to eat vegetables and fruit, too. But we also juice 3-5 times every week to ensure the good food gets into their growing bodies. And we make a point to keep refined sugar out of their diet, which limits the sugar to primarily what comes naturally in their plant-based diet.
What brand of children’s vitamins do you buy?
That’s one question I don’t answer. I do not endorse any vitamin company. Nor will I. In my opinion, if I tell folks to take vitamins, and then I just happen to sell them the very ones they need, it may detract from my message. But I can help a little:
We take (and give to our kids) vitamins free of artificial colors and artificial sweeteners. Remember that a little sugar gets the vitamins down. The end justifies the means. Vitamins have to be tasty or kids just won’t eat them. The goal is to get the nutrients in them; don’t worry about the bit of extra sugar in vitamins or the chaser you give them after they take them. (Just keep it out of the rest of their diet.)
Vitamins need not cost a fortune. There are plenty of folks who will tell you otherwise, but we buy the cheapest vitamins we can that are free of junk and give us the results we seek. Read labels. Check potency. Sometimes it takes two or even three tablets to get the amount indicated on the label. This can be confusing, and pricey. If you have questions about purity or sourcing, call the company. I do.
What vitamins do you give your children in addition to vitamin C?
We buy two different multivitamins for our kids. (One is actually for adults.) They each contain some vitamins and minerals the other does not, and in varying concentrations, so we mix it up every other day so they can get the benefits of both. Basically, we look for multivitamins that include, among other things, 5,000 IU (international units) of vitamin A, at least 30 IU of vitamin E, 500-1,000 IU of vitamin D, all the B’s, and a variety of minerals including 5 mg of iron and 100 mcg (micrograms) of iodine. We don’t worry about the amount of vitamin C in their multi because we supplement with far more than is present in any multivitamin on the market.
As for minerals, they take chewable calcium and magnesium tablets in addition to the minerals they get in their multivitamin. We also throw a handful or two of unscented Epsom salt in their bath water 1-2 times per week. Occasionally, they get trace mineral drops in their water. Our efforts are to ensure that they get, in particular, enough magnesium.
There are nutrients in their multivitamin that we give them more of as needed. We use our higher potency adult vitamins and find a way to administer them in a child-friendly manner. Here are some examples:
It may be no surprise that when the kids aren’t getting some sun, they are getting a cold. In the winter, we give the kids additional doses of vitamin D to the tune of about 5,000 IU weekly, and if they get sick. I open the capsule and drip it onto something they like. Ice cream works well. Really well.
We do the same with vitamin A. When they are sick, I give them a dose of 10,000 IU of vitamin A on ice cream as soon as they show symptoms. I do this only for a day or two. They continue to get their regular dose of A in their multivitamin.
If they are about to have a tantrum-inducing dose of sugar, like ice cream in the summer, or a piece of birthday cake, I crush up a tablet of about 10-20 mg of flush inducing, immediate release niacin, put the dust on a spoon with some raw honey, or right in the ice cream or bite of cake. It works remarkably well. It has also come in handy when the kids get a case of, what my father-in-law calls, “the can’t help its” due to exhaustion, overstimulation, or some other factor. When kindness, reasoning, hugs, understanding, distractions, timeouts, rest, and patience do not bring a toddler down from the brink of an irrational breakdown, we have found that a little flush niacin does. The results can be incredible to behold, and it is safe.
Remember, niacin may cause a flush. Your child may feel warm, look a little red, and feel itchy. This is saturation of niacin. It means they have had enough niacin, for now. We give the minimal amount of niacin that helps them be calm, and not so much that they experience a strong, uncomfortable flush. Work out the right dose for your child in cooperation with your physician.
Doesn’t taking vitamins just make expensive urine?
Kids are expensive. Some people may think that giving kids vitamins just makes for more expensive kids. That is certainly one way to look at it. Here is another: Nutrients in urine may indicate that our children are well-nourished and have some to spare. Vitamin deficiency is the problem. Abundance, however, is not.
It is a good idea to see that children eat right and take vitamins. Give their bodies the opportunity to absorb essential nutrients. The body cannot absorb what simply is not there.
Like a good meal, vitamin sufficiency does not last forever. Their bodies will be “hungry” for these nutrients again. In the same way a baby needs nourishment many times each and every day, kids (and adults) should be taking vitamins in several intervals throughout each day.
Vitamins are very safe and, when compared to drugs, vitamins are not only vastly safer, but remarkably inexpensive. Pharmaceuticals make for far more expensive urine.
Are vitamins safe?
Yes. Far safer than any drug on the market, prescription or over-the-counter.
Doing it yourself
Bear in mind, I am not a physician. You should always look into vitamins and nutrition for yourself, and do what is best for you and your family. Talk it over with your doctor. However, I do not believe you have to be a doctor in order to take control of your own health or your children’s health. Doing it yourself does not mean it will be easy. It is an incredible amount of work to keep kids healthy. But it is worth it. Sure, take your kids to their pediatrician. But wouldn’t it be nice not to need to go?
(Helen Saul Case is the author of The Vitamin Cure for Women’s Health Problems and coauthor of Vegetable Juicing for Everyone. Her latest book is Vitamins & Pregnancy: The Real Story.)
This article was originally published by the Orthomolecular News Service April 9, 2016. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v12n09.shtml
To Learn More:
- Campbell, R., and Saul, AW. The Vitamin Cure for Infant and Toddler’s Health Problems. Basic Health Publications (2013).
- Campbell, R., and Saul, AW. The Vitamin Cure for Children’s Health Problems. Basic Health Publications (2011).
- Case, HS. Don’t Vaccinate without Vitamin C. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v11n09.shtml
- Case, HS. Vaccinations, Vitamin C, and “Choice.” http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v12n07.shtml
- Hickey, S. and Roberts, H. Vitamin C Does Not Cause Kidney Stones. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v01n07.shtml
- Saul, AW. No Deaths from Supplements. No Deaths from Minerals. No Deaths from Amino Acids. No Deaths from Herbs. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v12n02.shtml
- Saul, AW. Putting the “C” in Cure: Quantity and Frequency are the Keys to Ascorbate Therapy. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v05n11.shtml
- Smith, RG. Flu, Viruses, and Vitamin C Megadoses: A Personal Statement. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v05n07.shtml
- About “Objections” to Vitamin C. Therapy. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v06n24.shtml
- Antibiotics Put 142,000 Into Emergency Rooms Each Year. U.S. Centers for Disease Control Waits 60 Years to Study the Problem. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v04n14.shtml
- Bipolar Kids Need Nutrition, Not Junk Food and More Drugs. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v04n15.shtml
- Vitamin C as an Antiviral: It’s All About Dose. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v05n09.shtml
- Vitamin C: A Highly Effective Treatment for Colds. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v03n05.shtml
- Vitamin Supplements Help Protect Children from Heavy Metals, Reduce Behavioral Disorders. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v03n07.shtml
Nutritional Medicine is Orthomolecular Medicine
Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information: http://www.orthomolecular.org