One of the most frustrating things about having kids is that they don't always eat what you want them to eat. In the case of our son Alex, this was true to an almost frightening extent; born 6 weeks early, he was in the bottom fifth percentile for weight and height (on the standard doctor's charts) until he was about 4 years old. And describing him as a picky eater doesn't do him justice. Alex never seemed interested in any food. Until just recently he wouldn't even eat macaroni and cheese, a standard children's menu favorite! So we had a frustrating situation - Alex was tiny and we needed him to eat, but in order to do that we had to find food that he liked which was almost impossible.
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Some of this started to make a bit more sense when Alex was diagnosed at the beginning of this year with Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified, which is a high-functioning form of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Often these disorders include sensory disorders or sensitivity. Alex seems to have a high sensitivity to the texture and taste of foods, which may explain his rejection of so many of them. Wanting to make sure he was getting a variety of vitamins and minerals was a priority, but again, we had to shop around to find something palatable for him. After a complete rejection of the traditional Flintstones vitamins that I remember enjoying, we discovered that vitamins are available in a faux "gummie candy" form. Which brings me (finally!) to the subject of my review, Sundown Kids Spider-man Gummies Children's Multiple Vitamin and Mineral Supplement.
These vitamins are just what they sound like, a general multi-vitamin for children in "gummy" form. They come in a plastic jar with a child-proof cap; this is enclosed in a cardboard box. There are 60 vitamins per jar, in a mix of three flavors; cherry, grape, and orange. The children adore these vitamins, which do taste like candy, although I think they are closer to a fruit pectin candy than a "gummie." Even my two year old daughter gets excited in the morning when it is vitamin time.
The package labeling offers directions on how to use these vitamins. Basically, adults and children 2 years and older should chew two of the "gummy super heroes" a day. We try to dole the vitamins out to the kids in the morning with their breakfasts; they each take two at the same time. I'm sure it would be fine to have one in the morning and one later, but we try not to add extra steps to our routines unless it's absolutely necessary. Both kids like to take the vitamins, as I mentioned. It's hard to say whether or not they are actually healthier; both Alex and Julia are very healthy, rarely getting sick (although they have perfected the trick of bringing colds home for me!). I like the reassurance that Alex is getting a range of vitamins and minerals that he otherwise wouldn't get from his diet of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
An unexpected benefit that the Sundown Kids vitamins seem to have for Alex is that... well, he exhibits less autistic-type behaviors on the days that he takes them. I have read some of the autism-related literature out there, and have seen suggestions that for some people diet and vitamins can help ameliorate some of the symptoms. While I can't be certain, we think that Alex is more focused and aware of what is going on around him when taking these vitamins. (Of course, this could be true of any vitamins for all I know - these are the only ones we've gotten him to take.) Our diet strategy for Alex now includes taking two of these vitamins daily, avoiding large doses of foods high in sugar or artificial colors or flavors (when he has those it gets ugly fast), and encouraging him to continue to try new foods.
So, what is in these vitamins? 1500 IU Vitamin A (as retinyl palmitate), 15 mg Vitamin C (as ascorbic acid), 50 IU Vitamin D (as cholecalciferol), 15 IU Vitamin E (as dl-alpha-tocopheryl acetate), 0.5 mg Vitamin B6 (as pyridoxine HCI), 200 mcg Folic Acid, 3 mcg Vitamin B12 (as cyanocobalamin), 45 mcg Biotin, 2.5 mg Pantothenic Acid (as calcium d-pantothenate), 30 mcg Iodine (as potassium iodide), 2 mg Magnesium (as magnesium citrate), 2 mg Zinc (as zinc citrate), 10 mg Sodium, 10 mcg Inositol. Other ingredients include Corn syrup, sugar, water, black carrot concentrate (color), pectin, fumaric acid, citric acid, natural flavor (contains wheat extractive), grape skin extract (color), annatto (color), and tricalcium phosphate. Please note that this information is listed "per serving," with the serving size equaling 2 gummies. The packaging indicates that the percentage daily values of the Recommended Daily Allowances are not 100% for these vitamins for either children or adults; the percentages range from 1% RDA (magnesium) to 100% RDA (folic acid for kids - it's still 50% for adults).
One thing that I notice is completely missing from these vitamins is an iron supplement. Because Alex's iron levels are currently fine, this is not a problem for him, but it is something to be aware of in case your child does need iron supplementation; there's none to be found here. Women and girls who are old enough to menstruate may also require an additional iron supplement.
Another consideration with these vitamins is that they do seem so much like candy that your children might interpret them that way. At 6, Alex understands that they are vitamins and that he can only have two every morning. Julia, however, doesn't understand and is willing to lobby for more. It is important to not overdose on vitamins, even ones that don't contain iron. Some vitamins and minerals are toxic at high doses. It is also, of course, important to store the vitamins in a spot away from the reach of your children and in the child-proof container.
So, what makes these vitamins "Spider-man" vitamins? Well, there's an image of Spiderman on the package, but that's about it. Each flavor of vitamin is supposed to be shaped like a superhero (Cherry is Spiderman, Grape is Captain America, and Orange is the Incredible Hulk). But the vitamins are not really shaped like anything - they just look like small bumpy pieces of fruit pectin candy. My kids don't care about this one way or another, but I do think it's a little mystifying. Another burning question, why do the manufacturers hyphenate "Spider-man?" Enquiring minds want to know.
We buy these vitamins at our local Target for $4.99. There is usually a coupon in the box for $1.00 our next purchase. They are also available at www.drugstore.com for $6.99, and I imagine that other brick and mortar stores such as Walgreens carries them as well.
I'm glad we found the Sundown Kids Spider-Man Gummies vitamins. Alex and Julia will both take them happily, so they are at least getting something in the way of nutrition every day (beyond the peanut butter sandwich range). That the vitamins also seem to have a positive effect on Alex's Autism Spectrum Disorder makes them indispensable at our home. 4 stars.
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