By Sarah Harris

Sarah Harris N.D.

Specialist Naturopath – Holistic Nutritionist – Herbalist – Homoeopath – Remedial Therapist

Like you, your special little (or big) child is trying to find their way in a hectic world. They are undergoing stress, and emotions that rise and fall, as they navigate through their various terrains such as home, childcare, various levels of school or even work. Therefore, they need specific support to achieve their best outcomes.

Words and artwork by Catie Gett from @notestomyfuture.books

So what are the key elements that they need to be happy and healthy during their growth years?

Growth and development- requires an optimal intake of nutrients – the most essential are those required for a healthy brain and nervous system.

With many children not consuming the recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamins and minerals during critical stages of brain and nerve development – growth may be adversely affected.

The most important nutrients are vitamins B6, B12, and D and minerals zinc, magnesium, iron, iodine, selenium and folate. Although these can be found in fresh fruits and vegetables and good quality animal protein, many children are fussy eaters and do not reach their nutritional requirements from food alone. For this reason, an appropriate, bioavailable multivitamin may be needed to ensure the intake and utilisation of these key nutrients.

An essential nutrient for healthy childhood development is Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA. It is most abundant in our brain and is also important for eye health and nervous system function. The required dose is most easily obtained via a fish oil supplement, however, it can also be found in cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel, whilst smaller amounts can be found in eggs and chicken.

Your child’s concentration, memory and learning is dependent upon adequate DHA intake.

Another key element in ensuring happy and healthy growth are the ‘good bugs’ that live in and on us. The most important of these are found in our gastrointestinal tracts (GIT). From preconception – good gut flora assists the GIT health of the child and supports their behavioural and immune functions throughout life.

Microbes, transferred from mother to newborn, initiate the establishment of the child’s own microbiome. A healthy gut and immune system are adversely affected by antibiotic therapy, stress and unhealthy food choices. Whilst probiotic therapy and dietary intake can help to promote beneficial bacteria numbers and diversity.

Specific probiotic strains reduce the incidence and duration of the following:

  • tummy issues in infants;
  • reduce the incidence of intestinal candidiasis (i.e. yeast overgrowth);
  • reduce conditions such as allergy and eczema;
  • improve resistance to infections;  

The inclusion of probiotics, taken during pregnancy and throughout childhood, may also assist in minimising behavioural complaints in later childhood. By prioritising optimal nutrition and healthy microbiome development during the early stage of your child’s life can confidently enhance their future health.

Dietary and lifestyle advice with or without supplements can ultimately help support childhood development and treat a wide range of childhood conditions.

If you would like to discuss any of the key elements mentioned in this post or customise a health promotion plan for your family, please feel free to make an appointment by calling (03) 5221 8220.

Yours in good health,


Sarah Harris

Specialist Naturopath, Holistic Nutritionist, Herbalist, Homoeopath

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