One of the most important contributions to children’s health is to make sure they take their vitamins daily. A good multiple vitamin and mineral formula can make an important difference in children’s intelligence, behavior and overall health and growth. Many studies have confirmed these benefits.
The problem with most multiple vitamin and mineral formulas for children, however, is that they are not really very good for their teeth-and that is worrisome. Also, what if you could find a children’s multiple formula that reduced your child’s risk for middle ear infections?
One problem, as any parent knows, is that children like sweet things, and manufacturers of children’s vitamins are all too willing to accommodate these tastes by adding a relatively large amount of sugar to their products and may even go so far as to add artificial sweeteners which can have potentially toxic effects. The second problem is that most children’s chewables contain pure vitamin C, which is highly acidic and damaging to tooth enamel and promotes bacterial growth.
BENEFITS OF XYLITOL
Besides the natural health benefits of orange juice pulp and lemon juice crystals which are used in the formula as flavoring agents, the use of the naturally occurring sugar substitute xylitol (obtained from birch trees) offers unique benefits.
Recently, researchers from the Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery investigated the effects of xylitol-sweetened chewing gums on plaque accumulation, gingival inflammation and remineralizing potential of plaque following six weeks of use. Twenty-eight adults were randomly assigned to each of three phases (six weeks in duration) consisting of chewing xylitol gum, chewing sorbitol gum and a non-chewing phase. Subjects chewed one stick after every meal and at two other times for a total of five sticks per day. At the completion of each treatment phase, plaque and gingival indexes were performed and plaque was later collected. Reductions in plaque indexes were significant for both xylitol gum and sorbitol gum when compared to the no chewing period. The gingival indexes reflected a decrement in gingival inflammation with both xylitol and sorbitol (though only sorbitol values were statistically significant). Chewing xylitol and sorbitol gum also reduced plaque accumulation and gingival inflammation. In addition, both gums enhanced the remineralization potential of plaque. Xylitol gum showed a superior effect with respect to remineralization potential and plaque reduction.
But there’s much more to the xylitol story. When Matti Uhari, a Finnish pediatrician and professor of pediatrics at the University of Oulu, sees children with chronic ear infections, he prescribes xylitol gum or syrup. In Dr. Uhari’s research of more than 1,000 children, results of which were published in the British Medical Journal and Pediatrics, children who used xylitol regularly had 40 percent fewer cases of ear infection or otitis media. Studies show that xylitol inhibits growth of Streptococcus pneumoniae, the most common pathogen associated with middle ear infections. The natural sugar substitute also prevents the bacteria hemophilus influenzae from attaching to the cells in the nose and throat, reports The Wall Street Journal.
SAFELY SUPPORTS CHILDREN’S IMMUNE FUNCTION
At the same time, a multiple vitamin formula which includes a small amount of Jerusalem artichoke fiber (inulin) provides the beneficial protective bacteria in the child’s gastrointestinal tract. By fostering healthy populations of beneficial bacteria, children are less likely to be overtaken by infectious illness, including common cold and flu. The formula also contains a highly absorbable beta-1,3-D-glucan that will help to promote healthy immune function. Thus, the combination of xylitol, Jerusalem artichoke fiber and beta-1,3-Dglucan appears to be extremely beneficial for children’s overall health and disease resistance.
BEWARE, VITAMIN C CHEWABLES
Vitamin C is extremely important to children’s health and has important benefits on oral health, including strengthening the collagen and bone structure, and aiding the healthy growth of children’s teeth. But extensive evidence documents the extremely destructive effect that chewable ascorbic acid has on tooth enamel. The only way to avoid this damaging effect while obtaining all of the benefits of vitamin C is to use a calcium-buffered form. One way to protect your children’s dental health is to choose a multivitamin, which adds a calcium-buffered vitamin C.
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