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Kids Today

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Children's Health Children's Health

Children face different challenges in 2020 and beyond. Here are some ideas on how to formulate for children to help them grow into a healthy adulthood.

It can certainly be said that children tend to be naturally enlightening, as they perceive their world and the people in it in such refreshing ways. And when children get hurt or sick in any way, we adults tend to be deeply affected.

Today’s parents (some of which are the oldest of Generation Z) remain very protective in what they give their children, and more than ever, they are believers in all things natural, clean, sustainable and eco-friendly. For example, non-GMO (genetically modified organism) is no longer a bonus, it’s a requirement.

Dawning on 2020, the top children’s health foci appear to be bone health, vision/cognition and supporting immunity and digestion through the microbiota.

Chris Speed, senior vice president of global sales and marketing, NattoPharma ASA (Norway) and NattoPharma USA, New Jersey, asserted that bone health is an important issue facing children’s health and well-being today. “This is the foundation that will carry them (literally) into adulthood,” he commented. “Yet children are actually the group most impacted by K2 deficiency (K2 is an essential bone-support nutrient), and this deficiency is resulting in increase fracture rates in kids—incidence that could be avoided by correcting this deficiency.”

Researchers have noted a steady decline in vitamin K consumption in children—intakes were 39 mcg/day in the 1950s compared to 24 mcg/day in the 1990s. These reduced intakes are believed by researchers to correlate to increased bone-related injuries for children. Speed noted that recent research has shown when vitamins D and K2 are insufficient in children, they tend to be more at risk for low-energy fracture (such as what occurs when tripping or falling).

According to Vladimir Badmaev, MD, PhD, K2 researcher and founder of American Medical Holdings, Inc., “The epidemiological evidence indicates a disturbing growth in the number of cases of low-energy fractures in healthy children and adolescents. There are multiple risk factors that may contribute to this growing health concern, and among the leading consideration are deficient or insufficient nutrition and nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D and vitamin K.”

Badmaev explained that the role of vitamin K2, especially menaquinone-7 (MK-7), has been highlighted in the literature and distinguished from vitamin K1 in maintaining calcium homeostasis and healthy skeletal system. “The epidemiological and clinical research provides a new nutritional paradigm for efficient, safe delivery of calcium that requires co-supplementation with both vitamins D and K2.”

Further, a trial with 245 healthy girls (aged 3-16 years) essentially showed that higher amounts of active osteocalcin (a K-dependent protein activated by vitamin K2) was correlated with higher amounts of K2, resulting in lower rates of bone breakdown.

“There are multiple issues affecting children’s well-being and health today including childhood obesity, daily screen time exposure, stress and mental/behavioral issues,” said Abey Thomas, senior marketing manager, Natural Remedies, Bangalore, India.

In a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Study, scientists found that, as of 2016, 6.1 million children aged 2 to 17 years living in the U.S. had been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Symptoms of ADHD include inattention, hyperactivity, restlessness or impulsivity that is more severe, frequent or debilitating than normal.

The CDC cited that among all children 2 to 17 years of age with ADHD, researchers also found:

• Six out of 10 (62 percent) were taking medication for their ADHD, and represent one out of 20 of all U.S. children;

• Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) also had another mental, emotional or behavioral disorder, such as conduct disorder, anxiety, depression, autism and Tourette syndrome.

Unprecedented exposure to ubiquitous screens (blue light emission) also is having a greater impact on children’s health, Thomas pointed out. “Among toddlers, spending a lot of time staring at screens has been linked with poorer performance on developmental screening tests later in childhood, according to research in JAMA Pediatrics.”

Researchers in that study found a direct association between screen time at ages 2 and 3 and development at ages 3 and 5. Development includes growth in communication, motor skills, problem-solving and personal social skills, based on a screening tool called the Ages and Stages Questionnaire. “More research is needed to tell us which children are most vulnerable to the harms of screen use and the impact it may have on a child’s brain and mental health,” he asserted.

Additionally, he noted, several studies attribute ADHD to increased exposure to digital media. A 2018 study in JAMA monitored 2,500 teens’ digital media usage and symptoms for two years. The study findings concluded that more frequent use of digital media may be associated with the development of ADHD symptoms and further research is needed to assess whether this association is causal. Thomas stressed, “Although further studies need to be conducted to strengthen this body of evidence, the correlation between exposure to digital media & symptoms of ADHD cannot be ignored.”

Vision health is increasingly emphasized due to blue light exposure, and children’s eyes tend to be vulnerable as they grow. During ocular development in childhood, lenses are more transparent than in eyes of adults, resulting in retinas accumulating lipofuscin, granules that are a risk factor for macular degeneration later in life. According to research from OmniActive Health Technologies, New Jersey, maker of Lutemax 2020, lutein and zeaxanthin isomers are advantageous to children’s ocular health and vision because higher macular pigment levels increase tolerance and comfort when exposed to bright light.

There are four key facts to know about high-energy blue light:

• Significant exposure of high-energy blue light emanates from LED screens that include televisions, tablets, smartphones and computers, along with LED indoor lights, resulting in significant exposure.

• As much as 90 percent of all indoor light (high-energy blue light) sources will soon be LED and CFL

• The macula is vulnerable to penetration of high-energy blue light; the macula is responsible for highest visual sharpness

• High-energy blue light exposure often causes eye fatigue; worse, long-term cumulative effects can impede vision.

Probiotics

How infants’ and children’s’ microbiome/microbiota develop and affect their individual health profiles is an area that has emerged, according to Dr. John Deaton, vice president of science and technology, Deerland Enzymes & Probiotics, Georgia. “As parents adopt probiotics into their own daily routine, more and more of them are interested in imparting the benefits of probiotics to their children. I also see more pediatricians are recommending probiotics for children, especially when prescribing an antibiotic.”

He explained that the microbiome develops in the womb and sets during early childhood. These good bacteria aid in food digestion and nutrient uptake, and a healthy microbiome is crucial for overall immune health. “There are studies that show certain probiotic strains can help with colic, diarrhea, intestinal problems and eczema,” noted Deaton.

For example, he offered, according to a study in Pediatrics, the probiotic group Lactobacillus was found to be safe and effective in treating infectious diarrhea in children, and a study published in Pediatrics in 2007 found colicky infants who were given Lactobacillus improved in one week. The strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (aka LGG) and Saccharomyces boulardi have both been successful in treating antibiotic-associated diarrhea, according to a 2007 review of 10 randomized controlled trials. In addition to potentially helping with specific health issues, probiotic supplements may help in the formation of a more balanced microbiome in children.

Probiotics for infants and children may be manufactured in numerous forms—flavoring, serving size and mode of delivery are important considerations. For infants, there are infant formulas that already contain probiotics, powdered probiotics that can be added to milk/formula and drops. Toddlers and older children will enjoy obtaining their probiotics via chewable tablets, yogurt drinks, gummies and even special straws that are coated with probiotics, he added.

Formulating for Kids

Kids and sugar go together like peas and carrots, as Forrest Gump would say. However, parents are trying to keep that sugar intake to a minimum, encouraging their kids to obtain diet-induced energy with healthy foods. But kids will be kids, and sweets/candy treats will always be one of their favorite things.

“Children won’t tolerate a pile of pills, nor can they handle large horse pills typically associated with dietary supplements,” Speed stated. “Ideally, you craft a product featuring complementary nutrients that work synergistically for kids. Then it’s about coming up with a delivery method that will be easy for kids to take.”

A great example of a kid-specific product is Wiley’s Finest Beginner’s DHA, he noted. This innovative product delivers MenaQ7 Vitamin K2 as MK-7 and vitamin D3 to support bone development, but also EPA and DHA for brain and eye development. It is offered in a tasty liquid. “Our ultimate goal is to see vitamin K2 added to all children’s’ multivitamin products,” he emphasized. NattoPharma’s published human clinical trial in healthy prepubertal children have shown a daily dose of just 45 mcg of MenaQ7 Vitamin K2 as MK-7 is enough to increase osteocalcin activation, resulting in stronger, denser bones.

According to Thomas, formulating supplements for children is a bit more challenging compared to supplements aimed at adults—the formulator not only needs to pay attention to efficacy and safety but also to organoleptic parameters. Children tend to prefer gummies, chews and beverages rather than conventional dosage forms. “If the formulator is working with an ingredient that is bitter, then the flavor masking employed would need to be stronger for a child than an adult. It’s the same for color; children might prefer brighter colors,” he said.

Deaton also observed that the growing popularity of the kids’ supplement market has been fueled by innovation in delivery forms. He is beginning to see probiotics for children move beyond the typical supplement format, such as drops or chewables, into drinks and snacks. Companies launching these probiotic products for children are increasingly focused on delivering a desirable, kid-friendly flavor in the finished product. ”While many adults may sacrifice a little flavor in the name of healthy eating, we all know that kids are a lot less cooperative in that area,” he commented. “A healthy, probiotic-containing snack that a kid refuses to eat is of little value.”

He added that he expects to see more delivery technology advancements in improving taste and texture of probiotic products for kids because “microbiome research is growing at an accelerated rate, and with that comes better understanding of what is needed for maximal growth and health of a child during different stages of his life. As such, the market for children’s probiotic products will see rapid growth. There is a huge opportunity for food, beverage and supplement brands to be very successful, if they can launch healthy probiotic products that appeal to both children’s palates and their parents’ ideals.”

Foundational Support

Those of us of a certain age remember when there was one Flintstones multivitamin for kids—and now, the “modern stone-age” multi itself has kept up with the times to include immunity support, toddler and with iron in gummies and chewables. The brand also appeals to young mothers with a lengthy list of “free of:” GMOs, artificial sweeteners and flavors, high fructose corn syrup, synthetic colors, dairy, egg, soy allergens, gluten, wheat and aspartame.

As any children’s multivitamin is an excellent idea for parents to provide their sons and daughters, there are ingredients that address the aforementioned areas of growing concern.

According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, in girls, the bone tissue accumulated during the ages of 11 to 13 approximately equals the amount lost during the 30 years following menopause. Further, it estimates that a 10 percent increase of peak bone mass in all children reduces the risk of an osteoporotic fracture during adult life by 50 percent. Inversely, poor diet, especially between the ages of 10 to 18, can result in weaker bones in adulthood.

Vitamin K2 (as menaquinone-7) “is an essential nutrient for bone health,” said Speed. “Vitamin K2 activates a protein already present in the body, osteocalcin, which binds calcium to the bone mineral matrix, leading to stronger, denser bones. This has been shown in multiple clinical studies, including one published in 2009 that showed just 45 mcg of MenaQ7 Vitamin K2 as MK-7 was enough to increase activation of osteocalcin, leading to stronger, denser bones. MenaQ7 is the only vitamin K2 (MK-7) clinically shown to support bone and cardiovascular health.”

Bacopa monnieri, also called “Brahmi,” is a plant revered in ayurvedic medicine for being effective for memory and cognition in adults and importantly, in children, according to Thomas. BacoMind from Natural Remedies, he described, is a patented, clinically tested, memory and cognition health supporting, full-spectrum bacopa extract with nine bioactives and GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status. BacoMind has been clinically studied to be effective in children for supporting memory and attention based on two published open label studies. The first was conducted on children requiring IEP (Individual Education Program). In this study, Thomas said, BacoMind showed statistically significant improvement in memory, which was evaluated through a series of memory tests.

The second study was conducted in children with ADHD. “BacoMind was effective in reducing almost all the symptoms associated with ADHD with 74 percent children showing up to 20 percent reduction,” he reported. “In addition, 93 percent of children responded with reduction in restlessness and 89 percent children showed improvement in self-control. BacoMind is effective for children at a dose of 225 mg per day.”

Thomas added that bacopa by nature is bitter in taste so to help formulators overcome taste challenges for children, Natural Remedies has worked with its distribution partner, AIDP, in prototype development and proof of concept samples with a variety of delivery applications. “Currently,” he related, Natural Remedies is working on pediatric and adult applications for BacoMind clean label shots. We’ll be introducing this product at SupplySide West this year.”

Conventional probiotics are ideally suited for cold-processed popular foods like yogurt and yogurt drinks. Those brands looking to use probiotics in other foods that require heat or pressure during processing may run into challenges in terms of keeping the microbes alive. However, spore-forming probiotics such as Bacillus subtilis can withstand heat for use in other probiotic products for children. Deerland’s DE111, said Deaton, has been confirmed by genome sequencing to be completely safe for consumption, containing no plasmids, antibiotic resistant or deleterious genes.

A human clinical study showed the strain’s ability to suppress unwanted bacteria, aid in digestion and maintain general health. DE111 forms spores that protect the microbes from harsh conditions until they enter an environment ripe for germination, such as the GI (gastrointestinal) tract. Because of this spore-forming ability, DE111 remains viable under a wide temperature range. This characteristic makes this strain a good choice for products that are exposed to higher temperatures, such as pasteurized beverages and baked goods or snacks.

The good news is that more parents are more strictly monitoring their children’s overall diet, health and well-being, ensuring that they are also engaged in extra-curricular activities such as sports or creative arts. Parents are eager to embrace clean, high-quality supplements that can show the science. Kids today will be parents tomorrow and the cycle will continue. NIE

For More Information:

Deerland Probiotics & Enzymes, www.deerland.com
NattoPharma USA, Inc., www.menaq7.com
Natural Remedies, www.naturalremedy.com
OmniActive Health Technologies, www.omniactives.com

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