The Best Vitamins for Kids

best vitamins for kids

As a parent, it is difficult to really know if your children are getting the vitamins and nutrients they need to grow and thrive. These days, there are articles plastered all over Facebook about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables…especially during childhood when the brain is growing and developing. I don’t know about you, but some evenings I look at the lack of color and variety on my children’s dinner plates and think that there is no way I am winning in this realm of parenting! #tellmeimnotalone

So, even though I am very aware that the best way to get fruits and vegetables into your children is to hide them in baked goods, I mean, always offer them these foods when they demand you get them a snack, there are just some circumstances where a child’s diet is just not sufficient.

best vitamins for kids

My four-year-old daughter is a perfect example. Due to the tumor located just below her vocal cords at birth (called a post-cricoid hemangioma for anyone Google-ing that term), she has developed severe anxiety towards food, especially new food. Currently, she does not eat ANY fruits or vegetables. Not.a.single.one. #winning

After taking her to the doctor and getting blood work for nutritional deficiencies, we found that she was low on iron and started her on a multi-vitamin with added iron. The change was immediate. Her energy levels improved and her hair and nails began to grow. Now, she is a rather extreme case. What about a toddler that is a picky-eater? Or a school-aged child that is just defiant about eating fruits and vegetables? In these scenarios, what vitamins do kids really need to grow and thrive? Well, I’ve done some research, and I am happy to share my results!

  • Vitamin D3 – Vitamin D is actually a hormone that is made naturally by our bodies and can also be absorbed from the sun. We need vitamin D in order to promote bone growth and to properly absorb calcium. For those that live in rainy climates or for the long, dreary winter months when the sun is not always shining, supplementing our children with vitamin D is important!
  • Omega 3 fatty acids – Omega 3 fatty acids have a wide variety of benefits including cognitive function. During the first three years of life, a child’s brain is growing and developing more than it is any other time. Studies show that omega-3s aid in concentration, hand-eye coordination, memory, and the ability to socialize. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids aid in vision and eye development. Since my eight-year-old struggles with ADHD, we have been supplementing his diet with omega-3 fatty acids for the past 4 years and have seen great improvement in his ability to concentrate at school!
  • Probiotic – Our kid’s gut flora develops slowly and each time their exposed to an antibiotic (for say, an ear infection that won’t clear up on its own), it can be easily disrupted. Therefore, there is great benefit to adding probiotics! There are many studies that have proven the link between gut health and overall health. Studies have also shown a direct link between gut health and skin health! If you have a teenager that is dealing with acne or a young child with eczema, try a good probiotic!
  • Calcium – Calcium is not only important for bone growth, but it also helps nerves and muscles function properly. The recommended daily dose of calcium can easily be achieved through dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. But, for kids that are dairy-free or don’t consumed much dairy, a calcium supplement can help them meet their daily needs.

You’ll notice that I am not making any brand recommendations in this blog post. That is because I believe that us moms should do the research on brands and quality ourselves to determine what works best for our budget and needs. There are sites out there, like ConsumerLab, that rate products and can help you decide. Just know – whether you choose to supplement your child’s diet or not, just caring about their nutritional needs makes you a great mom!

If you have any questions about finding the best vitamins for kids, please leave a comment! I am happy to help.

You might also like: Intentional Healthy Living Kids: Safe Bath Products

All about kid's supplements and vitamins

The Safest Bath Products for Kids

safest bath products for kidsOne of the catalysts for starting my healthy living journey was the birth of my son. Almost 9 years ago he came crashing into this world, on fire, and he hasn’t slowed down since. Even as a baby, he seemed to only be happy when he was stimulated by sights or sounds. I didn’t know what was going on with him at the time, but I knew he was different. Fast forward a few years and we had received a diagnoses of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), specifically a “sensory seeker”. This meant that my son intentionally sought out stimulation. Like slamming into walls. (It was an awesome couple of years!)

These days, we have a happy, healthy 9-year-old who occasionally struggles with ADHD and impulsiveness. I fully believe that his struggles are few and far between only because we cleaned up our lifestyle. I know that is such a broad statement. But, here is what I mean by that – limited sugar in his foods, toxin-free household products, essential oils for pretty much everything, and the safest products we can find (shampoo, toothpaste, mouthwash, body wash, etc.). When my son goes out of town or is gone from the house, he very quickly starts to have issues with his attention, focusing, and impulse control (hello laying under the hotel bed watching the iPad at 4AM while everyone else is sleeping!!). As soon as he is back in his home environment and normal routine, these issues subside. #notjoking

Our journey to clean up our lifestyle has been long and is constantly improving. Somewhere along the way I had an “AH-HA!” moment where I realized that the products I put on my children are just as important as the food they eat. I started researching and purchasing products that didn’t contain the top toxic chemicals: harsh sulfates, parabens, PEGs, formaldehyde-releasers, and fragrance. (Sign up on the sidebar or click here to receive my FREE Guide to Toxic Ingredients if you would like to learn all about these chemicals and why you should stay away!)

Prior to this though, I frequently used a few mainstream products that many of you might be using such as:

Aveeno Baby Calming Comfort Bath – Lavender and Vanilla – At the time, I believed this to be a “gentle” option that would help him calm down prior to bedtime (because there were always LOTS of tears in the evening hours!). The Environmental Working Group (EWG) gives this product a 4 out of 10 for the following reasons:

  • Fragrance – this is a “bucket” used to describe the ingredients that make up a scent of a product. Anything can be in this bucket and companies do not need to disclose the ingredient because they are considered to be trade secrets.
  • PEGs – independent studies have shown possible organ toxicity from PEGs. There are also contamination concerns with known carcinogens.
  • Sodium Hydroxide – Although deemed safe for use in products in the US, it must be less than 2% and at a pH level less than 11%. It is restricted in Canada.

Another product I used regularly on my son was Johnson’s Bedtime Baby Lotion (to be fair: I’m linking to the old formula – the one used back then). EWG gives this product a 6 out of 10 for the following reasons:

  • Fragrance – this is a “bucket” used to describe the ingredients that make up a scent of a product. Anything can be in this bucket and companies do not need to disclose the ingredient because they are considered to be trade secrets.
  • Parabens (propyl, ethyl, and methyl) – parabens are known human endocrine disruptors that can cause tumors, birth defects, and developmental disorders
  • Sodium Hydroxide – Although deemed safe for use in products in the US, it must be less than 2% and at a pH level less than 11%. It is restricted in Canada.
  • Phenoxyethanol – possible organ toxicity and the European Union cautions use around the mouth and eyes.

These days, we rotate between these following bath products and have found them all to be good choices.

safest bath products for kids

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

If you would like more information on the safest bath products for kids, leave me a comment. I have done a TON of research!

You might also like: Make the Switch to Clean Face Wash, Are Your Skincare and Beauty Products Toxic?, Is Sunscreen Bad For You?

Creating a Good Skincare Routine

Did you mom teach you how to properly take care of your skin as you age? Yeah, mine either. #sorrymom

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that for many years while my kids were little, I used makeup removing wipes morning and night and that’s it. Seriously, that was all the energy I could muster up. But after a few years, my face was showing signs of age. Ruddy complexion, acne on the chin, fine lines, wrinkles…you know the game. Lucky me, I had hit my 30’s! It was about time to start a skincare routine that ensured that I aged gracefully!

Don’t let the term “skincare routine” scare you. I’m still a tired mom and I don’t spend hours in the bathroom each day fussing over my face. There are actually four very simple steps to a healthy skincare routine: cleanse, prep, treat, and protect.

Step 1: Cleanse Your Skin

Cleansing your skin morning and night removes the dirt and grime from the day and helps slough off dead skin cells. There are many different types of cleansers on the market that are geared toward different skin types, but for most people, a gentle, cream cleanser is all that is needed.

Step 2: Prep Your Skin

Prepping your skin for treatment with an alcohol free toner is a vital step that many people miss! For example, prior to adding a toner to my routine, I had a shiny forehead each afternoon and occasional acne in my t-zone. Prepping your skin with toner restores the pH level of your skin after cleansing and can add an extra layer of protection by closing up your pores.

Step 3: Treat Your Skin

The treatment step is where you should use a product that is geared towards your specific skin type/issues. Typically, you would only treat your skin in the evening before bed. There are many different types of treatments including masks, oils, peels, and beauty creams. Personally, I love facial oils and my latest obsession is the Beautycounter Overnight Resurfacing Peel (so amazing! Its like going to get a professional peel except you can wear your PJs while you do it!)

Step 4: Protect Your Skin

Protecting your skin is how you ensure that all the hard work and money you’ve put into your skincare routine, is beneficial. In the morning, you should play defense by protecting your skin from the sun with a mineral sunscreen. In the evening, you want to play offense and lock in your treatment/moisture with a high performing moisturizer.

I hope this post is helpful! I love helping people learn how to properly care for their skin, especially using safer options. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you would like more help!

You might also like: Skincare Changes in Your Thirties, Make the Switch to Clean Face Wash, Are Your Skincare and Beauty Products Toxic? 

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Why You Should Use Natural Deodorant

natural

Today is a good time to talk about deodorant since I’ve been in Florida for a week where it is already brutally HOT! Switching from traditional deodorant to natural deodorant has been on my mind for the past few years due to research that has shown possible health concerns (more about this later). But, I was a little worried about the transition and whether natural deodorant would stand up to my sweat sessions in the gym. I’m really glad I took the leap though, because now I am stink-free and harmful chemical-free!

So, what exactly is the deal with natural deodorant versus the traditional deodorant found in retail stores? First, I want to point out the difference between antiperspirant and deodorant. An antiperspirant keeps you from sweating by blocking your pores. Deodorants simply neutralize the smell of your sweat. The concerns that have popped up over the past decade concern both antiperspirants and deodorants and are mainly focused on two ingredients – aluminum and parabens.

Aluminum is only found in antiperspirants and acts as a temporary plug for your pores. Around 2001, rumors started circulating on the Internet that there was a connection between shaving and then using antiperspirant and breast cancer. The theory states that the aluminum in antiperspirants gets into a woman’s bloodstream through small nicks in the skin made from shaving. There have been three studies performed to prove/disprove this theory, one in 2002, one in 2003, and one in 2006. Although none of the studies were able to prove that there was a link between antiperspirants and breast cancer, one study did find that women who shaved “aggressively” and then used antiperspirant were diagnosed with breast cancer 22 years earlier than others.

The second concern that has popped up has been over the use of parabens in deodorants. Parabens are preservatives that mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. According to the American Cancer Society, estrogen can promote the growth of both cancer and non-cancer cells. A 2004 study found parabens in tissue samples taken from breast tumors. Although this finding doesn’t prove that the parabens came from deodorant (as opposed to cosmetics, food or pharmaceutical products), it was enough evidence for me to take a look into natural deodorant!

After reading through reviews over many different natural deodorants found in stores such as Whole Foods or even online retailers such as Amazon, I finally settled on a small, woman-owned company called Primally Pure. What I liked about this company (other than the fabulous reviews) is their belief that “fewer is better when it comes to ingredients”.  My first purchase was a geranium scented deodorant that glided on smooth and kept me smelling fresh all day long – even when working out. After loving that product, I decided to try out the charcoal-based deodorant. I have super sensitive skin, which means that every time I shave, I get little red bumps in my underarms. My hopes were that the charcoal in the deodorant would draw out the skin and dirt clogging my pores and give me a smooth, flawless look under my arms. And, it actually does! I have got to say that this one is the best natural deodorant I have ever tried.

natural deodorant

I’ve been obsessed with this deodorant ever since I started using it and have been telling everyone I know to check it out. Primally Pure even has a deodorant subscription service so you don’t have to think about it and it gets you free shipping! How cool is that?

You might also like: Is Sunscreen Bad For You?, Are Your Skincare and Beauty Products Toxic?

Things I Love: Himalayan Salt Crystal Light

This Mother’s Day, I opted to go for something a little less traditional than the typical jewelry, gift cards, or flowers and decided to get my mom and my mother-in-law a Himalayan salt crystal light. I’ve heard such great things about the benefits of these lights – air purification, reduction in humidity, deeper, more restful sleep, even electromagnetic radiation (EMR) reduction from electronics! Himalayan salt lights are hygroscopic, which means that they attract moisture humidity, and airborne water molecules. If you live in the south like me where humidity levels are sky high a majority of the year, this is extremely helpful!

himalayan salt crystal light

Of course, I had to buy myself one to try out as well!

I’m happy to report that these beautiful little lights really do work wonders for your sleep. I placed mine in the bedroom across from our bed and after just a few nights, I felt that I was sleeping much deeper than usual. So deep in fact, that I was having a hard time waking up in the morning (#cantwin). I even tested my theory out by removing the light for a few nights and found that my sleep was definitely not as good!

The company I choose to purchase the lights from is called So Well. Their products are imported, fair trade, straight from the foothills of the Himalayan mountains where they are hand excavated and hand-selected. Not only that, but they are just plain beautiful! In fact, they are so beautiful that my preschooler has started coming into my room in the middle of the night to stare at the pink glow and not-so-gently remind me that she wants a “pretty pink nightlight” too!!

You might also like: Simple Ways to Create a Healthy Lifestyle, Why Intentional Healthy Living

A Healthy Smoothie That Tastes Amazing!

For many years, smoothies have been my go-to method for getting fruits, vegetable, and protein into my diet. When I was younger, I had no idea that vegetables such as spinach and avocados could be added to a smoothie without compromising the sweet taste! Today, I thought it would be fun to share my favorite healthy smoothie recipe. Especially since it is the day after Easter and I ate way too many Starburst Favorite Reds Jelly Beans yesterday (tell me I am not the only one?!?).

healthy smoothie

Here are the ingredients I typically use and why:

  • Milk – gives you protein and is the “base” for the smoothie
  • Berries – contain antioxidants that improve brain function and reduce inflammation, vitamin C to boost immunity, and fiber to support digestion. My favorites are strawberries and blueberries.
  • Banana – provides a natural sweetness to the smoothie and is full of nutrients such as potassium.
  • Avocado – makes the smoothie incredibly creamy and provides you with healthy fats.
  • Spinach – full of minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients. And, you can’t even taste it!
  • Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides – did you know that collagen is the most abundant protein in your body? It can help heal your GI tract, improve the elasticity of your skin, get rid of joint pain, and so much more.
  • Tera’s Whey Protein Powder – I’ve been using this protein powder for many years to add protein to my diet. It tastes delicious in a smoothie or even mixed into a glass of milk.

What is your favorite smoothie recipe? Do you add ingredients not on my list?

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Are Your Skincare and Beauty Products Toxic?

“Your skin absorbs 60% of what you put on it.” 

You have probably heard this quote before, as its been floating around on the Internet for quite some time. And, for a good reason. Your skin is a protective barrier to your body and for decades we have been putting products on our skin. Its normal to wonder if these products are making it past the outer protective layers of our skin and into our bloodstream as this popular quote claims.

The short answer is yes. But, it might not be as bad as you think.

Some products such as nicotine or birth control patches actually depend on skin absorption to deliver doses of chemicals into your bloodstream. But others such as lotion, wrinkle cream, or BB cream are for the outer most surface of skin.

So, what is really going on?

First, there is an importance difference between skin penetration and skin absorption. In skin penetration, chemicals penetrate into the deep layers of skin. In skin absorption, chemicals penetrate so deep that they are absorbed into our bloodstream. Some of the quotes floating around on the Internet could actually be referring to the penetration rate of chemicals, not absorption (hello fearmongering!)

skin absorption

In addition, there are a few factors that affect the rate of absorption of a chemical into your body’s bloodstream. First, some layers of your skin are thicker than others. For example, the skin around your eye is thinner and therefore absorbs chemicals faster. Also, some chemicals can actually raise the absorption rate of other chemicals. These chemicals are referred to as absorption enhancers. Finally, every chemical has a different rate of absorption due to its chemical composition.

A lot of skincare and beauty products, such as under eye concealer and BB cream, are meant to provide benefits to the outer layer of your skin. It wouldn’t be beneficial for a company to include ingredients in these products that can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Therefore, some of these products contain a chemical called Dimethicone, which is a silicone oil that forms a protective layer on the skin and doesn’t allow chemicals to penetrate into the skin’s deeper layers. Unfortunately, although this sounds like a perfect solution, it comes at a cost. If a layer of silicone is sitting on the top of your skin, it is also trapping in moisture and bacteria, which can cause breakouts.

Although it would be almost impossible to research the absorption rate for every chemical in a product or to know how all the chemicals interact with each other, you can research ingredients on the EWG app to find out the safety rating (and why). Then, you can decide if you are comfortable using the product on your skin. And, now that you know a little background about skin absorption, you can laugh when you see those outrageous claims on the Internet.

For me, I try to stay away from chemicals such as parabens (possible carcinogen), phthalates (hormone disruptors), oxybenzone (in sunscreen), and fragrances (bucket for just about anything!). It’s up to you to decide your comfort level. If the idea of researching products seems overwhelming, contact me! We can work together to find safer alternatives.

You may also like: Make the Switch to Clean Face Wash, Make the Switch to Clean Lip Balm

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Simple Ways to Create a Healthy Lifestyle

No matter what your motivation, living a healthy lifestyle can seem overwhelming. Words like organic, natural, non-toxic (and maybe even Crossfit or Whole30?) can cause some people to feel anxious. It doesn’t have to be that way. There are lots of small simple steps you can take to live a healthy lifestyle!

Use Safe Products

healthy lifestyle

If you read the ingredient list on most of the name brand skincare, hair care, and beauty products, you will most likely find ingredients ending with -one, -ine, and -ate. Some of these ingredients are chemical additives that are linked to allergies, hormone disruption, and even cancer. Unfortunately, America falls way behind on banning the use of toxins in consumer products. Luckily, there are resources available to help you understand which ingredients to look out for such as the Think Dirty app and the EWG app.

After I scanned my products with the Think Dirty app, I realized that more than 75% of my products contained toxic ingredients! From that moment on, I made the commitment to switch to safer products. Since our skin is our largest organ, I started swapping out my skincare products with brands such as Beautycounter, Acure, Pacifica, and Honest Company. I encourage you to investigate your products as well!

Schedule in Fitness

healthy lifestyle

The funny thing I’ve noticed about fitness is that the more you do it, the more you want to do it. Even a short walk around the block during your lunch time can get your blood flowing and help you concentrate for the remainder of the workday. When I worked in an office cubicle environment, I would block out 30 minutes on my Outlook calendar each day to walk around outside or walk around inside the building. Now that I am at home with my children most days, I make sure that I go to the gym or take a walk first thing in the morning. I also wear a Fitbit on my wrist in order to gauge my activity level. Make fitness a part of your day and you will feel better, I guarantee!

Clean Up Your Cleaning Products

Did you know that there is currently no federal regulation of harmful chemical in household cleaning products? None. And, just like skincare, haircare, and beauty products, household cleaning products can contain toxins such as phthalates, perchloroethylene, and triclosan. You may not be putting these chemicals on your body, but you are coming in contact with them! Luckily, it is actually easy to make your own cleaning products with common household items such as white vinegar and baking soda. There are also great companies such as Branch Basics that sell concentrates that clean everything from your toilets to your floors without harmful chemicals.

Eat a Well-Balanced Diet

I know you have heard it before, but what exactly is a well-balanced diet? A well-balanced diet is one that is full of vegetables, fruits, and meats with complex carbs for quick energy. An easy way to be mindful of your diet is to watch your macros. For many years now, I have made it a daily practice to journal my food with the MyFitnessPal app. This free app allows you to view your nutrition for each day (at the bottom of each daily screen is a Nutrition button) in a pie chart. As food is imported into the app, you can look at your pie chart to see how well-balanced your day is. For me, a well-balanced day is 33% carbs, 33% fat, and 33% protein.

healthy lifestyle

Finally, know that you are unique and wonderful and committing to a healthy lifestyle is a process that can’t happen overnight. If the thought of overhauling your skincare products or diet is overwhelming, start with baby steps. It might also be beneficial to find a friend who is committed to the same goal. Lifestyle changes are always easier and more fun with a friend!

Would you like to learn more about any of these topics? Leave me a comment and let me know which topics you are interested in! 

German Chocolate Pancakes

german chocolate pancakes

German chocolate pancakes are an excellent way to fill you up and get you started for your day! Packed with protein from egg whites and Kodiak Power Cake mix, they taste delicious and efficiently fuel your body. I like this recipe because it is fairly balanced in terms of macros. For those interested, the macros for this recipe are: 27% carbs, 35% fat, and 38% protein (without toppings or additions).

There are lots of different ways to mix this up as well. Some of our favorite additions are: nuts, Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips, or natural peanut butter. We like to top them with syrup, natural peanut butter, or a combination of both!

German Chocolate Pancakes

Adapted from: MomStrong
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon coconut oil (melted)
2 eggs
3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Kodiak Cakes Dark Chocolate Power Cake Mix

Directions

  1. Grease an 8 x 8 baking pan with 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil.
  2. Blend remaining ingredients in a blender until smooth.
  3. Pour into baking pan and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

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Skincare Changes in Your Thirties

skincare changes

No one told me that your skincare changes dramatically when you reach your 30s! Well, that isn’t entirely true. I’m sure I read all about it in Self magazine when I was in my 20s. But, most likely I skimmed over the 30’s section and thought to myself “I wear sunscreen, I’ll be okay!”. And then, BAM! 30 hit and all the sudden my face was shiny each morning and no matter how much moisturizer I applied, it was never enough. So, what exactly happens in your 30s that causes these skincare changes?

Essentially, hormones happen. When you reach your 30s, your estrogen levels go down causing a decrease in skin-tightening collagen and elastin as well as skin-plumping hyaluronic acid. Also, skin turnover slows causing you to get clogged pores (hello adult acne!) and your moisture levels decrease. All this causes you to begin to see fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, and acne.

So, what can you do about all of this?

Sleep

Get as much sleep as possible so that your skin has time to repair itself. I know. I have two young kids, too! Just do the best you can to ensure that the sleep you DO get is quality sleep.This might mean putting away electronics before bed and creating a sleep sanctuary in your bedroom. For me, this means that my bedroom is dark, slightly cold, and a sound machine is on to muffle the sounds of my neighbors, dog, or kids. Oh! And electronics aren’t allowed in my bedroom. Crazy, I know!

Water

Drink as much water as you can each day without making yourself crazy. Just carry a water bottle around with you and make a conscious effort to drink. I recommend this water bottle. It’s fantastic and keeps your water cold all day long.

Skincare Routine

Adopting a solid skincare routine is one of the best things you can do in your 30s to combat changes. This routine should include the following steps:

  • Cleanse – Wash your face each morning and night with a gentle, sulfate-free cleanser. My favorite is Acure Brightening Gel Cleanser. It does a great job cleaning my face and it doesn’t dry out my skin.
  • Toner – What does a toner do exactly? Toner shrinks your pores, removes impurities that your cleanser didn’t get, and protects your skin from the environment. Look for toners that include antioxidants, like this one.
  • Serum – Your serum should include ingredients such as vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. Vitamin C protects your skin and hyaluronic acid plumps the skin and helps it retain moisture.
  • Eye Cream – The skin around your eyes is very thin and is the first to show signs of aging. A good eye cream contains caffeine to reduce puffiness and peptides to stimulate collagen.
  • Moisturize – Choose moisturizers based on your skin type (oily, dry, combo). Your day cream should include SPF to protect your skin from the sun and your night cream should include antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E, hyaluronic acid, or retinol.

Want to know more? I post helpful tips and share great products on my Instagram. Come follow me!

You might also like: Make the Switch to Clean Face Wash, Are Your Skincare and Beauty Products Toxic?