Wednesday, August 22, 2007

School starts soon. Kids typically hate it while parents typically love it. Marketers jump into selling everything from computers to pencils to the trendiest kids' clothes. I saw a sample table at a semi-local large club store featuring back-to-school supplements. This is a clever marketing approach, though a bit of a stretch.

  The supplement being sold is an immune booster meant to reduce contagious bugs in the air from causing colds and flu. The sales pitch also says it was developed by a school teacher. The kindly looking lady at the table implored me to buy this amazing supplement. Her job is to sell and, judging by the number of moms with colorful boxes in their carts, she did a good job. But, I had to wonder, is the product any good?

  The ingredient list, made up of vitamins, minerals and mild immune boosters such as Echinacea, didn't impress me. While I support taking a daily multivitamin, this product couldn't even be a replacement for that. It was too weak both in numbers of vitamins, minerals, herbals and in the strength of each. The retail price even at the big box store was higher than a good but simple multivitamin. I guess being formulated by a teacher pushes the price higher.

  However, the simple fact of taking this nationally known product daily will likely improve nutrition especially in kids who like ravioli and corn dogs. It will also teach them that doing an easy thing every day like taking a tablet can be good for you. When people improve nutrition and take control of their health, they tend to stay healthier.

  What would be better? For kids, a children's daily multiple vitamin with minerals and trace elements is usually cheaper and more potent. They can be chewable and flavored or just tablets. Be sure the chewable is not loaded down with sugar. Adults should take an adult-strength multivitamin with minerals and trace elements -- with iron for those under 45 and without for those older.

  Then there is the immune-boosting aspect. It is far better to use Echinacea for no more than 10 days at a time when bugs are actually circulating in the air. Echinacea loses effectiveness when taken for more than 10 days. Astragalus herb is a much more powerful immune booster and can be taken day in and day out without loss of effectiveness.

  While good for kids, Astragalus also helps protect the liver from adult insults. Especially the after work/school kind of insult, to the liver, teachers or parents might engage in after dealing with the little ones all day long. Cabernet or Shiraz is a better choice than white. And for anyone who has one or has taught school, you know an eighth grader could cause you to have a second round!

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