Over the past two weeks, I’ve been focusing on nutrition for kids, specifically on how to improve their diets through food and sometimes with the help of supplements.
When it comes to supplements… multi-vitamins in particular… a lot of natural mamas are split on whether to give their kiddos a daily vitamin or to skip it and focus on other ways of getting the same vitamins and minerals into their kids.
I’ve shared the kinds of things I personally think you should look for in a children’s multi-vitamin if you’re going to opt-in to a daily supplement, and I’ve also shared my personal reasons for opting out of daily vitamins with my kids as well as what I do instead.
Today I wanna share a bit about how you can use herbs to get some of these necessary vitamins and minerals into your children, mainly when you’re choosing to opt-out of multi-vitamin supplements altogether or for the time being. I’ll share some of my past herbal multivitamin recipes as well as a new one that comes in liquid form.
If you’ve missed any of the posts in this Nutrition For Kids series and want to catch up, click here to start at the beginning!
Using Herbs For Nutrition
Herbs can be a very valuable source of nutrition for us all. I mean, they are plants and all plants contain nutrients as well as medicinal constituents.
When it comes to using herbs in my own family, I think of them in two different ways. Nutritional herbs and medicinal herbs. They are one and the same, but most of the time I try to use them nutritionally much more than I use them medicinally. Does that make sense? You don’t have to have something wrong with you to use herbs. They can and should be used primarily for assisting the body to stay healthy, nourished, and in balance.
Getting your kids to take herbs is where the problem lies many times, but I’ve found that using powdered herb blends in my kid’s foods and snacks is a great way to get these nutritional herbs in them without any fuss.
Powdered Herbal Multi-Vitamin Blends
In the past, I’ve shared a couple of recipes that use powdered herbs as a great alternative to daily multi-vitamins for kids.
Why are powdered herbs a good way to get nutrients into your child’s body?
Well, one reason is that herbs are a whole food, and when they’re used in powdered form (as fresh as possible of course) then the body can do its job digesting the powders and extracting the nutrients found within those plants. This not only gives the body full access to vitamins and minerals but also to the other constituents in the plant as well. We’ll talk more about other plant constituents below in the liquid section of this post.
Be sure to check out the following posts that use different powdered herbs in various ways to boost the nutrition your child is consuming.
The great thing about using powdered herbs in this way is that the sky is the limit on combinations you can use. Almost all herbs come in powdered form, and you can put together nutritional combos like the two above as well as medicinal combos.
I typically buy my powdered herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs as they have many options and they are very particular about the quality of their products.
Next up, let’s look at another way to use herbs to get some added “multivitamin-like” nutrition into our kids.
Liquid Herbal Multi-Vitamin Blend
Using nutritious herbs in liquid form is a great way to reap their benefits. Not only is water an effective solvent for extracting vitamins and minerals from plant material, but it’s easily absorbed in the digestive tract.
Now when it comes to thinking about creating a liquid multi-vitamin formula, you must consider two things.
- The herbs you’re going to use in your formula
- The liquid you will use to extract nutrients from the herbs
The herbs I’ve chosen for this blend are perfect to use in combination with a healthy diet if you wanna take a break from the daily multivitamin or if you wanna skip it totally. Not only is it full of herbs that contain many of the necessary vitamins and minerals your child needs, but the combo tastes great too so chances are your kids will take it without any problems.
The herbs used in this formula are a follows:
- red raspberry*
- dandelion root**
* – primary nutritional herbs
** – secondary nutritional herbs
*** – for taste
- Alfalfa – eight essential amino acids, chlorophyll, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, chlorine, sodium, potassium, other trace elements, promotes assimilation of other plants
- Red Raspberry – vitamin B, calcium, iron
- Nettle – iron, calcium, zinc, chromium
- Rosehips – vitamin C
- Oatstraw – silica, calcium, chromium
- Dandelion Root – sodium, iron
- Peppermint – potassium, phosphorus
Now you may be looking at this list and thinking, “Where are all the vitamins? I only see vitamin B and vitamin C!”
Well, here’s the deal. Vitamins A, E, D, and K are all fat-soluble vitamins, so even though many of these herbs contain these fat-soluble vitamins, they aren’t extracted in water because water will only extract water-soluble vitamins. The best way to get these fat-soluble vitamins is through your food, fermented cod liver oil, or taking powdered herbs. Also know that fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body and, therefore, do not need to be consumed as often as water-soluble vitamins. Vitamins B and C are water-soluble vitamins, and they are extracted well with the liquids we’ll discuss next.
You can use any combination of the above herbs, but I’d recommend using the herbs with one asterisk (*) for sure as they pack a powerful nutritional punch. All these herbs are safe for children, and they blend really well together. You can also check out this vitamin and mineral post from LearningHerbs.com where they list herbal sources of different vitamins and minerals. This may help you to make your own herbal formula based on your child’s specific needs if you wanted. Just make sure the herb is safe for children first!
As far as choosing a liquid goes, most people would opt for an herbal glycerite because it will extract properties from the herbs, and it tastes great so kids will take it. Unfortunately, only certain liquids are known to extract certain constituents from plants. (Source) When it comes to the constituents we’re looking for in this formula… vitamins and minerals, glycerin alone is not enough. Water must be used.
So if you want to extract the nutrients from your herbs, you have two options here.
- Use herbal infusions to sip on throughout the day.
- Use glycerites that contain 40% glycerin and 60% water a few times a day.
Today, we’re going to focus on using straight water, in the form of teas and infusions, to get our herbal vitamins and minerals into our kids.
How To Make Herbal Teas And Infusions
To make an herbal tea, check out this Using Herbs page on making herbal teas or read this post on how to make a perfect cup of herbal tea. To make an infusion (which is a really strong tea that you don’t drink as much of at once), check out this Using Herbs page on making herbal infusions.
As you can see from the resources above, herbal teas and infusions are both really easy to make, but now I wanna share 5 easy ways you can get your kids to take them.
5 Easy Ways To Get Your Kids To Take Herbal Teas
1. Make sweet herbal tea
What kid doesn’t like sweet tea? Maybe that’s just my kids because we live in the south.
Anyway, take your herbal tea, add some honey to taste, and put it in the refrigerator for a few hours to cool down. Pour it up in a mason jar, pop in a fun paper straw and some ice cubes, and enjoy some herbal sweet tea a couple of times a day. Your kids will love it, and they’ll feel spoiled being able to have a fun treat so often. You mom, won’t feel guilty because you’ll know their special treat is packed full of nutrients that are helping their body.
2. Make herbal popsicles
Making herbal popsicles is no harder than making any other popsicle recipe. Simply substitute your juice for your herbal infusion in exact amounts or at least cut the juice portion of the recipe in half. The juice and the fruit you use in the popsicle recipe will mask any herb flavors your kids may not be so fond of, and these make an excellent treat on hot summer days. These are my favorite popsicle molds.
3. Use as the water portion of smoothies
When you make smoothies, many times you’ll need a small amount of liquid to help your smoothie blend well. Herbal infusions are a great choice as they not only help to boost the nutrition of the smoothie, but they can add flavor and depth to the smoothie as well. Just replace the liquid in your smoothie for your herbal infusion in exact amounts, and you’ll be good to go.
4. Freeze into ice cubes
Another way to get this herbal tea or infusion into your kids is to freeze it into ice cubes using silicon ice cube molds. You can then put these herbal ice cubes into drinks on hot days or you can use them in smoothies instead of plain water ice cubes. They’re also great to suck on if it’s hot outside, but I would not recommend that for small children.
5. Make herbal jello
This tip comes from Jamie at HowToJustAboutAnything.com from the comments below, and I thought it was such a great idea that I had to share it here in the post. She used herbal teas and infusions to replace some of the water or juice called for in her homemade jellos. This is an easy way for her kids to get the goodness of the herbs and the nutrition from the grass-fed gelatin she’s using. Here’s my favorite homemade jello recipe that you can try if you like this suggestion!
Next, let’s look at the actual herbal multi-vitamin recipe and dosage.
Making An Herbal Children’s Multi-Vitamin Formula
Below are the amounts of each herb that I’m suggesting you use in your children’s multivitamin formula. I like to make a large batch of this blend and store it in my herb closet so I don’t have to dig out all of my individual herbs every 2-3 days to make a new batch. It’s much easier to grab one jar than eight!
- 2 parts alfalfa
- 2 parts rosehips
- 1 part red raspberry
- 1 part nettle
- 2 parts peppermint
- 1 part oatstraw
- 1 part dandelion root
Most children need around 2 cups of this each day. Remember, these herbs are safe for children and non-toxic so drinking more won’t hurt them. If you think getting 2 cups a day into your kid will be a challenge, get creative and remember that there are always other options for herbal multivitamins like the powdered blends above or getting nutrition via foods.
Okay, so that’s it for making your own herbal children’s multi-vitamin formula. I hope this has been a great resource for you mama. I hope you’ve learned something, and I hope it makes getting food-based nutrients in your child even easier.