Monday, April 4, 2011

Which Multivitamin?

Why are Targeted Multivitamins Important for Our Kids?

Our children shouldn't take multivitamins intended for the neurotypical population because the extra chromosome causes our kids to have unique nutritional needs. See Kent MacLeod, B.Sc. Phm.'s explanation for details.

The Einstein Syndrome website has a great Introduction to Targeted Nutritional Intervention in Down Syndrome as well as an article called Why Not Use a Regular Multivitamin?

For the history of Targeted Nutritional Intervention (TNI), check out Qadoshyah's blog, Got Down Syndrome.

Go here for an explanation of TNI you can print out and share with your child's physician.

For the technical minded, here's an interesting study that shows how vitamins can positively effect people who have specific genetic issues. They specifically mention folate issues, which the DS population has. High-dose vitamin therapy stimulates variant enzymes with decreased coenzyme binding affinity (increased Km): relevance to genetic disease and polymorphisms1,2,3  by Bruce N Ames, Ilan Elson-Schwab, and Eli A Silver.

Note: You may or may not see results right away with multivitamins -- it's more of a long term pay off.

How to Choose the Right Multivitamin

All of our children have the same diagnosis, but none of our children exhibit exactly the same symptoms. So it makes sense that while many of our kids may need many similar nutrients, each child's perfect blend of nutrients will be unique to him/her. 
1) Before you decide which multivitamin to use, you may want to order a free sample from each company listed below.  
2) Try each one separately for a week to see if your child is able to tolerate some or all of the formulas. Note any changes in your child, especially digestion symptoms such as bowel movements and any changes to the skin. Email me and I can send you a simple document to help you track symptoms.
3) You can also muscle test your child to see if s/he can tolerate the mixture before s/he even tries it. Muscle testing is available at some chiropractors, naturopaths, NAET practitioners and integrated medicine practitioners. Here's a youtube video that explains how to muscle test. This technique has worked well for Jett. One time, something was making him vomit and I just couldn't figure out what. So I took a sample of each supplement and each food item that was a part of his diet. His chiropractor muscle tested every single item I brought and narrowed the problem down to two items, one of which was the culprit. I stopped giving the offending substance and the vomiting stopped immediately.
What to do if your child has problems with multivitamins.

Some kids take these multivitamins with no problems. But, there are a lot of ingredients so it's possible that one or more ingredients might not work well for your child. If your child muscle tests negative for one, or more, or all of the formulas, then you'll need to figure out which items are causing the problem. Once you find the culprits, you can use NAET (Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique) to "clear" the "allergen" so that your child can tolerate it. NAET has worked well for Jett. Kristen Morrison of Naturally Better Kids swears by this technique for her child with Down syndrome.

If you have narrowed down the ingredients that cause problems, you can clear the allergen through NAET, as mentioned above, or you can get a customized formula made for your child through the companies below.

How to get the most out of the multivitamin you choose  

You'll want to make sure that your child is best able to metabolize these nutrients. If your child has untreated Celiac disease (more common in DS than is realized) or simply a sensitivity to gluten, you may want to consider avoiding gluten (found in wheat products). Gluten can irritate the fine hairs in the digestive system so much so that the hairs can fall out and cause your child's food to not be properly metabolized. So your child may be eating great foods, but isn't getting the nutrients from it because it just slides quickly by, instead of being caught in the fine hairs and slowly guided through the digestive tract. I'd hate for you to be spending a lot of money on supplements when your child can't even use them properly. Jett is gluten free to aid in digestion.

Milk can cause block your child's ability to properly process folate. You may want to consider avoiding dairy. Jett is dairy and casein free as well. See Cerebral folate deficiency in Down syndrome for details.

How to give multivitamins

Often, multivitamins doesn't taste good. I started Jett on NV when he was 4 months old and it was a constant struggle to get him to take it. But I felt I just have to get it in him! The NV does no help sitting in his bottle. At that age, I put it in strong tasting juice like prune or blueberry and gave it to him via syringe. As they get older hiding it in nut butters, yogurt, mashed banana or sweet potatoes and applesauce may work... (The nut butters need to be from soaked nuts. You can google to see how to make it yourself. It's actually easy.)

Here's a recipe for getting your child to feed himself supplements.

Why Jett doesn't take a multivitamin  

Jett doesn't take any of the multi-vitamins listed below anymore because I like to control the exact type, source, brand and dosage of each supplement he takes. That's why his supplement list is so long -- it's like the ingredient list from these multivitamins. I believe our kids may need even more than is in these multi-vitamins. And each of our kids are a little bit different as to how much they need. For instance, Jett needed about 4,000 mg a day of vitamin C when he weighed only 21 lbs. 

I can understand that the typical busy parent doesn't have the time to research each vitamin and mineral, buy each one, try each one, observe the effects and tweak the dosage of each... So, I highly recommend trying the multivitamins to see if you can find a good fit for your child.  Even though I don't give Jett a multivitamin, I still support the use of T-21 targeted multivitamins. This is
Jett's Complete Supplement List that he takes instead of a multivitamin.

Also, with all the different ingredients, Jett never muscle tested well for any of them.

Your choices for Multivitamins

NuTriVene D

NV is specially formulated to meet our kids needs. Contact them at and request a sample to see how it works for your child.

If you do decide to go with Nutrivene, make sure that you are getting the newer formula that doesn't have the folic acid (calcium folinate or methlyfolate is okay).  Since our children don't usually seem to do well with this type of synthetic nutrient. It actually fills the slot that the proper folinic acid and folate need to be in in order for our children to function properly. Folic acid should be avoided even in other foods (usually processed foods and especially cereals.)

NV does not taste good. You'll need to be creative if you choose to give it. 

They do a customized version. You can share labwork and get them to create a multivitamin especially for your child.

MSB from NutriChem

It is usually easy to get your child to take it w/ some applesauce and it doesn't have the strong vitamin smell. Mothers have noticed an improvement in ADHD symptoms. When the free samples arrive, they come with a great book about DS and Vitamin Therapy written by Kent MacLeod. Click for info about MSB.

This product had folic acid in it, but they recently changed the formula to the l-5 methlyfolate that is a better choice. It now has no iron so that it's easier for more children to take. Make sure you only get the 7th generation version of MSB.

It costs $99 ($13 shipping to the US) and you can get discounts when you purchase more than one bottle. I tried to order the unflavored version for Jett but they don't take debit cards so I couldn't pay for it! A friend mailed me some samples so I was at least able to try the different flavors on him.

Here's NutriChem's article on MSB vs Other DS Formulas.


You will need both the Vitaspectrum and the amino acid complete supplement to give a similar mix to the ones above.

I compared Vitaspectrum with Nutrivene...

I like that VS has the "bioactive forms of folate, B12, and B6 are included along with naturally-sourced carotenes, vitamin E, and D for optimal nutrient absorption and utilization. Iron and copper, often contraindicated in ASD, are excluded. VitaSpectrum™ is free of common allergens, including milk/casein, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat/gluten, yeast, and soybeans. No starch, maltodextrin, stearates, artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors, or preservatives are used.

This powdered formula complies with Gluten-Free/Casein-Free (GFCF) diets"
That is awesome.

NV does have all the amino acids, but the dose Jett took wasn't nearly enough of those anyway.... So I had to supplement him additionally.

Seeking Health Kid's Optimal Multivitamin

This is the only multivitamin not specifically for children w/DS that I recommend. It is formulated for children w/the MTHFR mutation, so it's a good fit for our kids. It has the right folate, no iron or copper and it does not contain: Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy, Fish, Shellfish, Nuts, Corn, or GMO.

New Downs

Sejal Parikh-Shah N.D. is a licensed naturopathic doctor and a mom to a child with Down syndrome.

This is the newest multivitamin for children w/T21. I have not had a chance to look in depth at this new formula, but you can take a look at Qadoshyah's review of New Downs on her blog post:

My comments on Q's review: Jett is low in iron so a little supplementation is okay for HIM and for others who test low on iron. The safest way to go with low iron is to start with the diet (See Anemia Causes and Cures).

As for copper supplementation, copper with zinc and carosine work together well, but they did not include carnosine in their formula. I'd have to research further. But, I'd recommend anyone taking New Downs to add l-carosine to protect the brain from too much copper or zinc. See Why L-carnosine for the T21 Population? for details.  

Related Posts

How to Start Supplementing
Jett's Complete Supplement List 
How Much Vitamin D3?
Celiac Disease & Down Syndrome
Why L-carnosine for the T21 Population?  


Kris said...

I called to get a sample of the MSB, but apparently the Canadian Post Office is on strike, so I don't know how long I'll be waiting to get the samples. But it looks good and they are willing to develop customized formulas, which is awesome.

I though that the Vitaspectrum looks great - especially the amino acid one - although it doesn't mention anything about DS kids. It's been developed for Autism Spectrum Disorders. So I'm not sure how closely it addresses DS imbalances.

Also, FYI about the Vitaspectrum: they will not sell it to you without "authorization" from your doctor. You have to have your doctor call or go online and set up an account for you and they have to monitor your use of this vitamin complex.

Unknown said...

Hi Andi,

Great site!

This is Sejal Parikh-Shah. I'm the formulator of New Downs. If you are interested in the data sheet, email me at I will be happy to send it to you.

Most of the children in my practice with and without DS who are low in iron. New Downs has less than the RDA of iron. I feel that iron is a very necessary nutrient for the early childhood. It is needed for growth, energy and cognition.

The amount of copper in New Downs is negligible compared to the amount of zinc. As you noted, copper is necessary for growth and cognition.

I'll look into carosine for the next generation of New Downs.

Keep up the good work. Jett is adorable!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Andi, I am interested in your comparison of the Nutrichem and Vitaspectrum (along with the amino acid). Last summer a Naturopath thought my son's iron was high, but his new holistic pediatrician thinks it is a bit low--so I'm not sure whether or not I would need to have that omitted. I would love to go with the most cost effective of these 2 vitamins, but I notice you mention potential ADHD improvement with the Nutrichem. My son doesn't really exhibit all the characteristics; he is a fairly typical free-spirited 6-yr-old boy, but he can be very impulsive (he is not on ginkgo), loves to play chase in public settings, and is often seen as "curious to a fault." On a budget, I am anxious to move forward with the possible good fit of a multi-vitamin. I also plan to add more Vitamin B. I appreciate the research you include on your blog. Kelliann

321 Mama ~ Heather said...

Nutrichem does take debit cards now. I was able to order MSB in November 2013 and pay with my debit card. They also have a smaller size that you can only get by calling, it's perfect for infants since they use it up very fast.

Brittany D. said...

I can't seem to get the link ( for the printout of TNI for my physician to work. Just takes me to a blank page. Would love to get this to print out and bring to my sons appointment today if possible. Thanks!

Andi Durkin said...

Here, Brittany: