Boarding and Day · Co-ed College Prep · Grades 6–12 & Postgraduate · Hebron, Maine

When Should You Take Supplements?

When Should You Take Supplements?

Dr. Sedgwick’s article last week on nutrition for your teenage athlete was such good advice. And it is good advice for all our students- nutrition for their growth, the growth we see (time for new shoes!) and the growth we do not physically see ( the brain is not fully developed until age 25) is so very important.  What they put in their body daily has an impact today, next week and into adulthood, in some cases.

First, if you are not already, become a label reader and teach your student to read what is in a supplement they plan to use.  Vitamins and minerals are regulated by the FDA, so what is on the label is supposed to be accurate.  Here is a good site about how the FDA works dietary-supplements.  Nutritional supplements (workout supplements) are not regulated by the FDA- it is buyer beware.  Do your research and look for brands labeled as verified by an independent testing lab, such as NSF, because otherwise, no one is watching what they put in them.   

If your student feels the need to take a vitamin, or you feel like, away from your oversight on their eating habits, they may need one, take a good look at what they need and how much they need.  A professional colleague I worked with who was a nutritionist used to talk about how people over supplement - they waste money on vitamins and minerals they do not need and what happens is your body just gets rid of it (most vitamins and minerals are what we call water soluble- your body doesn't store them and you simply lose a lot of them in your urine- his term was expensive pee).

What they need- possibly nothing.  Start by asking their primary care provider if they recommend a vitamin supplement.  Talk about their level of activity and their daily diet and have your student describe their school diet.  Maybe a simple multivitamin that provides a little of everything.  Not all multivitamins are alike- in fact, they are all wildly different.  Read the label. But first, encourage them to vary their diet to add the vitamins naturally- our bodies use them more efficiently that way and you are not wasting your money.  If at any time your student has questions about what they should be eating, have them stop by the health center, speak with Mr. Vining, our athletic trainer or email us for a time to sit down and chat.

In the winter, many of us need Vitamin D supplements. When the days get shorter, this is another conversation you can have with their primary provider or they can stop in and talk to the nurses or our physicians about it.

How much they need-to determine how much of any vitamin they may need, the NIH (National Institute of Health) publishes a daily recommended dose.  You can find that information here

Two things to remember- we ask that if you do want your student to take a supplement, Hebron Academy Health Services asks that you fill out a form for us. You can find the form in the Magnus requirements or ask us for it. Your student brings the form and the supplement to us to check it in and we determine at that time if they can keep the supplement in their room.  Please only send a month’s worth at a time- that is all we allow in a student room and we have limited storage in the health center for extra.  We also cannot repackage any supplements.  When reordering the supplement please either order them through our school pharmacy or send them directly to the health center- do not send refills to your student and they may not order them for themselves. (all this will be in the Community Handbook which should be available by August 1).  And, secondly, will your student take them daily?  Are they going to sit on a shelf and not be taken?

What they need - now workout supplements.  Rarely does a student need a workout supplement?  A good diet and adequate rest and fluid is usually all they need to improve their performance.  Unfortunately, they see the pro athletes who endorse these products (for a lot of money) who in reality may not even be using the product.  They are, at the least, a waste of your money and at worst, can be dangerous.

If your student would like a supplement, read the label- many have ingredients that are not tested, proven to have any effect on improving a workout or possibly not safe.  Most have huge amounts of sugar and more caffeine than in multiple cups of coffee in one serving- something that can be very dangerous to a student. And most workouts happen in the late afternoon or evening- which means the caffeine will impact their sleep.  Ask their primary provider or ask the student to go speak with Mr. Vining about what they may need.  And be sure to read Mr. Vining’s article coming up in the July 23  newsletter.

How much they need - there is no good answer for this.  It is best to talk with a professional, such as their primary provider, Mr. Vining, or a nutritionist before allowing them to have a workout supplement.  Most are very expensive, so do the research before purchasing any. Your student must bring the supplement to the health center with the supplement form filled before they are allowed to use it.  Remind them to never share any supplement with another student.  And to use it as recommended on the packaging- not concentrated and certainly not straight from the container dry.