Does my Child with GERD Need Vitamins?
So here’s the deal-your toddler or child with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a “careful eater” and you are worried she is not getting all of the nutrients she needs. You are worried because “careful eating” does not include eating most fruits, vegetables and all of the other healthy foods in your kitchen or the local food store. In fact, all of these foods taste “yucky”. So you go to the local store and buy some cool, child friendly vitamins. You are sure she will be thrilled. Your refluxer takes one tentative lick and decides vitamins are yucky too. Now what?
This is exactly what happened to me. My refluxer refused to eat anything green (i.e. all vegetables), most fruits and barely any dairy due to lactose intolerance. She was growing slowly and I worried about her overall nutrition from her limited diet. While I wasn’t a dietician, I was pretty sure that chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes and pretzels did not constitute a well rounded diet for a growing child. Thus began my quest to find a vitamin she would like.
Every time I visited a store, from the grocery store, health food store or mega big box store, I took a walk down the vitamin aisle in search for a new brand or flavor. I even searched for vitamins when I was at the beach on vacation or out of state visiting relatives. Eventually we tried every chewable, gummy, bubblegum vitamin sold in the United States. Each one was soundly rejected by my refluxer. I can’t really blame her. Each vitamin did cause her to urp and burp as it backwashed, leaving an acidic, vitamin laced taste in her mouth.
My non refluxer thought this search for the perfect vitamin was really fun. She loved each and every brand that we sampled, begging me for “just one more” of the wonderful, yummy vitamins each day. Well, maybe she didn’t like the sour gummy vitamins too much. Needless to say, we had an abundant supply of vitamins and her nutritional status was never compromised during her entire childhood.
I eventually gave up on finding the perfect children’s vitamin for my refluxer. When she was old enough to swallow a pill, the doctor said she could take an adult vitamin instead.
While it is always best to get nutrient from a balanced diet, sometimes this is just not realistic for a child with reflux. If your child will not take a vitamin of any kind, here are some vitamin enriched alternatives:
· Nutrition drinks for children ages 1-12 years. Check the baby food/formula aisle for nutritional drinks beyond one year of age.
· Vitamin fortified cereal: Read the label and watch out for cereals with excessive sugar.
· Toddler Food: Check the baby food aisle for toddler friendly foods with extra nutrients and less hidden ingredients. My refluxer ate some of these products well past the toddler years.
· Juices: Some 100% juices have extra vitamins and minerals added in kid friendly flavors.
· Liquid Vitamins: Some children will tolerate liquid vitamins.
· Compounding/Flavoring: Ask the pharmacist about using a flavoring system such as FlavorX to make a pill into a liquid form using one of their amazing flavors.