Nutritional Drink Supplements for Children
Children, in general, can obtain adequate nutrition from regular foods. On occasion, a supplemental fortified nutritional drink may be necessary, particularly for ill children or those experiencing failure to thrive. While nutrient-rich whole foods, such as dairy products, meat and poultry, starches and grains and fruits and vegetables should be the first choice, these beverages may offer a needed nutritional boost--particularly for underweight children.
Ovaltine is a nutrient-fortified chocolate malted drink mix that, when added to milk, may be consumed hot or cold. This powdered mix comes in three chocolate flavors, rich chocolate, chocolate malt and classic malt. Four tablespoons of the rich chocolate mix, alone, provides 80 calories, less than 1g protein, 0g fat and 19g carbohydrates. When blended with 1 cup of nonfat or skim milk, one serving provides 170 calories, 8g protein, 0g fat and 31g carbohydrates. The main benefit of this powdered mix is that it adds some calories and many vitamins and minerals to a standard glass of milk.
With the milk, this beverage meets, on average, 30 percent of the recommended daily value, or DV, for 17 vitamins and minerals. While milk alone is not a good source of vitamin E, a nutrient that often comes up short in a child's diet, 4 tbsp. of Ovaltine meets 40 percent of the DV for this nutrient, which helps protect the body's cells and enhance immune system function.
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Abbott Laboratories manufactures a line of nutritional drink supplements for children: regular Pediasure and Pediasure SideKicks. The original Pediasure supplement is high in calories and is often used in hospital settings to provide a source of nutrition for very ill or underweight children. While the traditional Pediasure drink is an option best suited for children at risk for malnutrition, Pediasure SideKicks is lower in calories and may be used to fill nutrition gaps on a more frequent basis.
Pediasure SideKicks is a creamy, ready-to-drink supplement that comes in strawberry, chocolate and vanilla flavors. One serving, or 8 fl. oz., of the strawberry flavor provides 150 calories, 7g protein, 5g fat, 1g saturated fat, 21g carbohydrates and 3g dietary fiber. This supplement fortified with 26 essential vitamins and minerals and is particularly rich in vitamins C and D, meeting 40 percent of the DV for each.
Kefir, a probiotic-rich fermented yogurt beverage, is a "kid-friendly" nutritional drink recommended by nutrition experts, such as Gloria Tsang, R.D., of HealthCastle.com and Leslie Beck, R.D. for promoting gastrointestinal health. Lifeway Foods manufactures a variety of bottled, ready-to-drink flavored or plain kefir drinks. Kefir is calcium and protein-rich and 8 fl. oz. counts as a milk or dairy serving.
Their ProBugs line is specifically designed for kids and is made with organic whole milk kefir. These drinks are available in fun flavors such Goo-Berry Pie, Orange Creamy Crawler, Sublime Slime Lime and Strawnana Split. They come in a four-pack and one serving, or 5 fl. oz., of the Goo-Berry Pie flavor provides 130 calories, 9g protein, 5g fat, 3g saturated fat, 15g carbohydrates and 1.5g dietary fiber. One drink meets 30 percent of the DV for calcium and 25 percent for vitamin D, both of which are essential for building strong bones and teeth.
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Michele Turcotte is a registered, licensed dietitian, and a certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She has more than 12 years of experience in clinical and corporate settings, and has extensive experience in one-on-one diet counseling and meal planning. She has written freelance food and nutrition articles for Trouve Publishing Inc. since 2004.