Childhood is a time of tremendous growth and change. You want to do everything you can to ensure your child has the right nutrition, activity and lifestyle to thrive through these years. At the time same, some children can be notorious for refusing to eat the healthy food you offer. It can be hard to know if they are getting everything they need for their growing bodies.
People often wonder how to best supplement their child’s nutrition to optimize important factors like immunity and digestion. Are there probiotics that work well for kids of any age? What are the best probiotics for children? At Natren, we offer probiotics for all stages of life, so let’s look at which are the best probiotics for children.
If you’ve read our educational information about probiotics for babies, you know that one initial source of probiotics is when a mom breastfeeds. The breast milk can deliver healthy bacteria to the baby, and some research has even shown that the microbiota the nursing baby receives can change as their needs change. This is in part because the mom’s body is able to adapt what bacteria are being provided based on the baby’s needs.
However, many moms stop breastfeeding within the first year of their baby’s life. Even for those who continue for longer, at some point the healthy bacteria from breast milk will no longer be supplementing your child’s gut microbiome. Additionally, although breast milk is often an excellent source of healthy bacteria, you cannot always be sure your baby is getting those bacteria that are most helpful. This is why, for the youngest children, we recommend Life Start which we’ll cover in more detail within this article.
A primary benefit of probiotics for children is helping with digestion. Diarrhea is generally more common in children compared to adults. Not only can this cause discomfort for children, but it can also lead to dangerous consequences like severe dehydration.
Why do children get diarrhea? There are many causes including viruses, infection, dietary choices and digestive issues. Probiotics are known for being able to help optimize digestion, which can be beneficial for children of any age. One of our recommendations for the best probiotics for children aged 4 or older is Natren’s Healthy Tummy wafers. These wafers are flavored like French vanilla ice cream and are easy to chew. While your child probably won’t know this, Healthy Tummy wafers also provide support for optimized digestion.
One particular cause of diarrhea in children is the use of antibiotics. There are times when it is beneficial for your child to take antibiotics, but these medications can do significant harm to his or her healthy microbiota.
The reasons antibiotics can be so harmful to the gut is that they cannot ‘decide’ which bacteria they are going to destroy. Instead, they attack both the bad bacteria - the result that you and your doctor are hoping for - and the good bacteria that have built up in the gut. Taking probiotics has the potential to protect and restore the good bacteria that antibiotics can harm. It is important not to take probiotics within 2 hours of taking antibiotics.
Often we hear that if you can get your nutrients from whole food, this is preferable to getting them “from a pill”. There are plenty of cases where this is true.
For example, if you can get your son or daughter to develop an enjoyment of whole fruits and vegetables to get their vitamins, this is a great victory. Not only does it mean they are getting the nutrients they need from these foods, but they’re also getting fiber, hydration, and developing healthy habits.
Similarly, it is great if your child can get all the fiber they need from foods. Of course it is easier to convince an adult of the health benefits of getting soluble and insoluble fiber into their daily diets, but children can also consume the fiber they need when given a variety of healthy foods to choose from.
However, the story with probiotics is different. While there are some foods that are good natural sources of healthy bacteria, if you rely solely on food sources, it is almost impossible to know how much bacteria your child is consuming and which strains they are getting. Instead, Natren’s probiotics come with a guarantee of the amount of each strain of good bacteria you are getting with each product. This way you know exactly what you are giving your child.
Our top recommendation for probiotics for children is Natren’s Life Start for young children, and Healthy Start System as children get older. Life Start is recommended for children as young as newborns because it contains Bifidobacterium infantis, the most beneficial bacteria for infants.
In fact, B. infantis, found in our Life Start probiotic product, is the only species of bacteria that is directly geared to digest HMOS (human milk oligosaccharides). Thus, it is the sole bacteria that should be predominant in the GI tract of healthy infants.
Natren is the only company that has produced this specific baby bacteria for 30 years - a bacteria that evolved with human beings and is specific to healthy infants. Sadly the B. infantis is not readily available even from healthy mothers who breast feed their infants in North America.
Good bacteria can benefit babies from the first day of life, and give them a head start in supporting a healthy immune system and good digestion. Life Start is also appropriate for children as they grow through early childhood.
Next, your child can graduate to Natren’s Healthy Start System which is a custom probiotic system that provides him or her with helpful levels of beneficial bacteria through the gastrointestinal system.
The Healthy Start System includes:
Natren’s Life Start is in powder form, which makes it easy to give to young children. Instead of trying to get your son or daughter to swallow a pill, you can stir the probiotic powder into milk, applesauce, or yogurt.
Our Healthy Start System is also sold in powder form, making it easy to work into your child’s diet, just as easily as your own.
Nothing is more important than your child’s health, and Natren respects this. We go above and beyond to ensure that we are offering your entire family the highest quality probiotics, backed by the Natren guarantee. To learn more about our probiotics, please visit natren.com.