Obesity, like no other childhood disorder, affects many aspects of health. Vitamin supplements will boost healthy metabolic pathways. All children need to take a daily vitamin mineral preparation in order to supply nutrients that are lacking in an unattainable “perfect” diet. This can be in the form of a chewable tablet until the less expensive pill form can be swallowed.
Vitamin C – Take a minimum of one or two 500 mg chew-tabs daily. But you should also regard vitamin C as a medicine for specific needs, such as combating allergies and infections, prior to immunization administration, and counteracting other forms of stress. Vitamin C is a cofactor in numerous coenzymes, so intake must not be neglected. Because the vitamin is water soluble and is not stored in the body, C is best taken in divided doses throughout the day. At times of acute stress, determine the dose by the bowel tolerance rule. This is a variable individual determination, measured by noticing the dosage when loose stools occur; reduce the dose a bit when this condition is apparent. Depending on severity of the stress, the optimal dose might be quite high. What works for one child might not be appropriate for another, but experts think that high doses of vitamin C are safe for all.
B Vitamins – The value of B vitamins is in their ubiquitous presence, as cofactors of coenzymes. We mentioned the huge role that niacin (B3) plays in the “energy” (Krebs) cycle; extreme vitamin B deficiencies are reflected in many serious diseases, many of which (pellagra, beriberi) were known before pinning down the specific deficiency. Thiamine (B1) is a co-factor in the enzyme pyruvate dehydrogenase, which gets derivatives of carbohydrates, amino acids, and fats into the cycle of energy production. Pyridoxine (B6) plays a major part in many metabolic pathways and it has been shown to exhibit wide individual requirements. For example, up to twenty-five times the adult Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) may be needed to stop convulsions in a B6-deficient infant. B6 is getting popular attention for its role in neurotransmitter formation. We need not be concerned about the optimal dose of a specific B vitamin, however. A “B-50” preparation is really available in the supermarket or drug store, and it contains 50 mg of the major B family and 50 micrograms (mcg) of those that are prescribed in smaller doses. The only noticeable side effect is that of voiding very yellow urine, colored by riboflavin (B2). Better too much of these totally harmless vitamins than too little.
Vitamin E – It is practically impossible to get an adequate amount of vitamin E from the diet alone, even when in normal good health. Avocado is considered a good food source, yet it probably has just enough to prevent hydroperoxidation (a very unhealthy event) of the rich polyunsaturated fatty acid content of the fruit. With the bloodstream often loaded with fats in the obese, experts recommend taking up to 800 IU of natural (d-alpha tocopherol) once daily. All children (without obesity) ages twelve through adolescence should be given 400 IU per day. Taking a fat-soluble vitamin only once a day is fine as long as it is with a meal. The natural E is 50 percent more efficient than the synthetic (d, 1-alpha tocopherol).
Vitamin D – D is normally not specifically recommended for obesity, but we think that it is beneficial. Through its calcium regulation, vitamin D affects insulin target tissues and insulin resistance. During the recent H1N1 (swine) influenza epidemic, young people were hit extra hard, more than the older age group that usually suffers the most. Most of the deaths of children were of obese children, putting suspicion on defective immune systems that allowed the virus to create direct lung damage. On the other hand, it was found that infection with influenza virus and secondary problems were greatly reduced in non-vaccinated children who took high amounts of vitamin D (1,200 mg of D3). Many illustrations of vitamin D’s effect on the immune system can be found. The RDA is creeping up and may get to a good level eventually.
Selenium – The mineral selenium is not necessarily recommended for prevention or treatment of obesity, but it has an essential function in making glutathione, the powerful antioxidant. It seems to duplicate some vitamin E action, thus sparing vitamin E for other functions. Selenium has a stimulating effect on the immune system as shown by its deficiency causing some mediocre viruses to become truly bad actors (Coxsackie virus). Take 200 mcg a day. Whole grains are a good source, but many soils are deficient, making the food source uncertain.
Essential Fatty Acid – Pay special attention to the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of foods; reduce your intake of the former and increase the latter. It might seem counter-productive recommending eating fatty fish, but due to tis good fat content, a small serving goes a long way toward satisfying your appetite. If your child hasn’t yet acquired a taste for fish, fish oil capsules are a good alternative. A typical preparation contains 1,000 – 1,200 mg of fish oil per capsule, and two capsules provide 750 mg of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), the two desirable long-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids dampen inflammation and lower triglycerides, and they appear to be effective in a relatively small dose. A capsule with breakfast and again with the noon meal would be good (if school makes the noon dose difficult, switch it to the evening meal). The capsules are big, so some creativity may be needed to get the contents ingested. Try opening each end of the capsule with a needle puncture and squeeze the contents into a small serving of orange juice. The monounsaturated oils (olive, peanut, and canola) can be considered belter than neutral. Generally, olive oil is superior, as it undergoes less undesirable processing, and extra-virgin oil is cold pressed (no solvents) and contains some natural “super antioxidants”. But it does have a pungent flavor that might make the others more preferable for some applications. Also, high temperatures harm olive oil, so do not fry with it. Use peanut oil instead, as it handles the heat well.
Such a striking contrast in looking at pictures of high school students of a generation ago and students of present age! There is a large discrepancy in the current population between the “fit” and the overweight, making us ask which is normal? “Average” does not equate with “normal”. Why have we allowed obesity to become such a problem? We have, through apathy and tolerance, simply denied that we know the root cause: faulty nutrition, with failure to avoid an excess intake of calories or participate in exercise to burn them. Obesity and type 2 diabetes go hand in hand as disorders prevented and treated by nutritional means. Stay away from medical and surgical remedies, and get on the right track. The rewards of weight control are much more far reaching.