Hi Amanda. I hear a lot these days about probiotics and how they can be good for kids. Is this something I should consider for my toddler? Does he need a supplement?
This is a great question and a good follow up to the question last week about yogurt and its benefits for toddlers. Probiotics contain strains of living bacteria that are similar to the healthy bacteria that are found in our digestive systems. Probiotics help to populate our gastrointestinal tract with “good bacteria” which helps balance or predominate over the potentially “bad” or pathogenic bacteria that can invade our digestive systems.
Probiotics are found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, some cheeses and sourdough bread. While probiotics are found naturally in some foods, there are also dietary supplements that contain higher concentrations of probiotics. There is some research that has shown that taking probiotics may have health benefits for children. Probiotics are currently being used to treat symptoms associated with gastrointestinal conditions and eczema in children. In addition, probiotics are also being studied to boost immune health in toddlers and children.
It is important to remember that not all strains of probiotics are used to treat the same medical conditions. Be sure to consult a health professional before starting any supplemental probiotic regimen for your toddler.
Ask Amanda is a weekly column from Feed to Succeed dietitian Amanda Gordon. Have a question? Email Amanda and let her know or submit an “Ask Amanda” question for a future column.