Monday, September 17, 2012

Operation "Smuggle Cod Liver Oil", aka the Supplement Smoothie

I've tried a lot of different methods to smuggle certain vitamins to my kids over the last couple of years. This year has become an even more interesting gambit because there are certain supplements I've been advised to give my two year old with sensory processing disorder. How do you get a young, sensory kid with oral motor and language delay issues to down different forms of necessary (and sometimes not-that-tasty) supplements?

A smart girl makes the most of a banana.
(Via the the U.S. National Archives on Flickr.)
My current answer is: a banana smoothie. After going through the initial stages of the GAPS diet, very ripe (brown-spotted) bananas are permitted. My sensory two year old doesn't get as much fruit as she did pre-GAPS. This means that she's especially eager to have some of that banana smoothie, because it tastes extra sweet to her these days. I use that one banana's worth of smoothie to my full advantage to smuggle in her supplements - and a nice feature is that a thoroughly blended ripe banana's thick liquid texture accommodates drops, powders, and capsule contents alike.

Most of the time, I use a minichopper to make the smoothie. It's so much easier to pop the chopper's cup and blade off into the dishwasher after making the smoothie - much less work than dealing with a blender or my full sized food processor. Another option I've used for the smoothie is an immersion blender, which works well as long as the banana is very ripe. I simply blend a very ripe banana until it's a thick liquid, and then add the supplements and blend a bit again.

Fortunately, sucking thick liquids through a straw is one of many oral motor exercises that our speech therapists and occupational therapist have recommended for my two year old, so I get to kill multiple birds with one stone when she's slugging down her smoothie.

For omega-3 essential fatty acids, I use Carlson's cod liver oil for kids in Lightly Lemon flavor (which I order on - I've found that the lemon and the banana flavors combine very well with no discernable fishy aftertaste. A high quality fish oil that's been tested for negative with heavy metal contamination is critical for us, since my sensory girl doesn't eat that much fish because of concerns about heavy metals and her body's limited ability (if any) to deal with them appropriately. That said, we give Carlson's to my neurotypical 5.5 year old as well, because quality omega-3s are almost always a good addition to one's diet. There are a few really good quality fish oils out there, many with flavored options. I think a cinnamon flavor fish oil might also combine pretty well with blended ripe banana, but I haven't tried that combo yet myself.

Other things I've been known to smuggle into the banana smoothies include Vitamin D3 drops (a great idea anyway for kids who may not get enough sunshine), Vitamin K2 drops (as I've mentioned, a decent addition for those avoiding dairy), and some trace minerals that are especially critical for kids with neurological issues, such as magnesium, iodine, and selenium. Of course, in tandem with giving these supplements are our efforts to improve our daughter's gut health with the GAPS diet, in order for her digestive tract to regain its ability to appropriately absorb and process these nutrients in the first place! While I think it's ideal to get as much of these micronutrients from their original food sources as possible, in the case of a kiddo playing developmental catchup, making sure that these bases are covered is that much more important, which is why I'm grateful that most mornings, a banana smoothie usually gets enthusiastically gulped down.

How do you ensure that your kids get their supplements down the hatch? Do you have any tricks for them (or for you!)?


This blog post is an explanation of personal experiences for entertainment purposes only, and is not to be misconstrued as medical advice. Please consult your trusted primary care physician with any questions about major changes in your diet and your family's diet, and remember that decisions about your diet and your family's diet are your own to make based on your own health and circumstances. 

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  1. In terms of logistics, I make my husband smoothies in a regular-mouth Mason jar. It screws onto most standard blender bases, and I can serve the smoothie (with a straw!) in the same jar. FWIW

  2. Awesome tip, Liz!! I will be trying that one soon. :)

  3. Could you freeze it? Banana Smoothie icecream?


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