9 Healthier Halloween Treats

October 29 2013 | Children's Health | General

What may scare parents more than anything on Halloween is having their kids gorge on sugar and high fructose corn syrup. While it may not be possible to avoid the sugar high entirely, there are plenty of other options for healthy (or at least, healthier) treats on Halloween.

Here are a few more ideas:

Oranges carved into Jack-o-Lanterns

Oranges by themselves will never disappoint. But to be more creative, do as Nikki does and make some Snack-o-Lantern Fruit Cups.


This might be a fantastic idea, unless some kid has a nut allergy. Nuts pack on the nutrition. They are loaded with healthy fats, Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Plus, they're tasty raw and have little or no additives or preservatives. See the Ultimate Guide to Nuts here: http://www.naturessunshine.com/Blog/post/Guide-to-Nuts.aspx

Pumpkin seeds

Some toasted pumpkin seeds with some sea salt? Delicious. Plus, pumpkin seeds are loaded with magnesium, copper, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, healthy fats, antioxidants and fiber. Also, pumpkin seeds are a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid (protein building block) that your body converts into serotonin, which in turn is converted into melatonin, the "sleep hormone." Go here to see a recipe on toasting pumpkin seeds

Granola and cereal bars

Just make sure you're not buying store-bought granola bars with high fructose corn syrup. Some healthier brands include Clif, Odwalla, Kashi and Luna, which are made without excess sugars and starch derivatives like high-fructose corn syrup. Also, granola is easy and delicious to make at home. You can add things like organic oats, chia seeds, almonds, flax seeds, raw honey and coconut oil. Here's one recipe http://www.katheats.com/favorite-foods/coconut-almond-granola


Carrots in factory-sealed snack packs make for fresh and healthy Halloween treats. A 2-ounce portion of carrots provides 8 percent of the fiber and 220 percent of the recommended daily serving of vitamin A.

Peanut Butter Pumpkins

With peanut butter, raw honey, rolled oats, ground flax, and a couple squares of dark chocolate, this recipe can look and taste like a treat, but is packed with nutrition too. See the entire recipe at Mouth Watering Foods here

String Cheese

String cheese is a low-calorie treat that's high in protein and calcium. One stick contains about 80 calories and 20 percent of the daily recommended serving of calcium for a 2,000-calorie diet.


Make a batch of popcorn and put them in small paper bags. That's it. The kids will get fiber instead of sugar.

Trail Mix

Raisins, almonds, peanuts, cashews, coconut, sunflower seeds: there are unlimited choices in a bag of trail mix with a wide variety of nutrition. Throw some dark chocolate chips in there to make sure the kids don't think you're robbing them of candy.

Beyond Children's Multivitamins: 3 Other Supplements to Protect Kids' Health

September 30 2013 | Children's Health

Children need good food and excellent supplemental nutrition to achieve their full potential. Nature’s Sunshine Products provides high potency supplements that are safe and effective for children. Sunshine Heroes ensure maximum nutrition in a chewable product line formulated specifically for children.

Omega-3 with DHA

Since 2004, the FDA has allowed qualified health claims for omega-3 fatty acids in food supplements. These health claims are based on the ability of omega-3 fatty acids to promote cardiovascular health. Prior to the FDA approval of these claims, the omega-3 fatty acids DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) had already been added to infant formulas.

Since DHA is poorly synthesized in the body, it must be obtained from the diet or from mother’s milk. Even then it is only found in breast milk when a nursing mother consumes a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids. There is no current recommended daily intake (RDI) for these fats, so the savvy consumer must find them in the diet or in supplements.

So why are EPA and DHA being discussed in children’s health? These essential fatty acids are highly valued for their support of nervous tissues. DHA is the most abundant polyunsaturated fatty acid in the brain and is required for normal growth and development of the nervous system:

  • (1) DHA is also found in the eye and in nerve synapses, which suggests that it may play a role in nerve transmission.
  • (1) In summary, EPA and DHA are beneficial to children as well as adults who want to promote proper nervous system development and function.

Nature’s Sunshine Products has valued these essential fatty acids for years knowing that they support both the nervous system and cardiovascular health.

Sunshine Heroes Omega-3 with DHA makes ingesting omega-3 fatty acids easy and fun. Each serving of Omega-3 with DHA provides 140 mg of omega-3 fatty acids (100 mg DHA and 20 mg EPA). This product gives children the benefit of these healthy fats in addition to the amounts found naturally in their diet.

Probiotic Power

Probiotic supplements are commonly known as “friendly flora.” These microbes live naturally in our intestinal tract and perform three main functions. They metabolize foods, aid in the absorption of nutrients and help maintain intestinal flora. This translates to better digestive performance and improved immune and intestinal health.

Probiotics have been researched extensively with regard to addressing gastro-intestinal issues. Bifidobacterium infantis (found in Probiotic Power) is the most common bacteria found in breast-fed infants. It is believed that this specific strain of bacteria helps provide immune support to infants as they enter a world surrounded by microbes. Much like DHA (mentioned above), it is another gift from mother to child that can be added to the diet in supplement form.

Probiotics should be supplemented regularly, because over time healthy bacteria populations can dwindle. Nature’s Sunshine Probiotic Power provides 11 different strains of bacteria (1 billion organisms per tablet) in an appealing chewable tablet for children. Astute users may note that the tablet is chewable and not enteric coated.

While enteric coating helps protect the probiotic bacteria as they pass through the acidic environment of the stomach, it is not required. These bacteria are extremely hearty and will survive the acidity of the stomach and continue on to thrive in the intestines. Probiotics should be stored in a freezer or refrigerator to ensure potency. Shipping probiotics in heat and humidity does not destroy the bacteria. But to maintain a long shelf life they should be refrigerated.

Calcium Plus D3

Growing children need calcium to form healthy teeth and bones. Calcium is also required for nerve transmissions, muscle contractions, and hormone secretion. Calcium is readily available in the diet from dairy foods and to a lesser extent, green leafy vegetables. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for calcium in children has slowly increased over the years. This helps demonstrate the importance of calcium in the diet of children.

The current RDA for calcium is as follows: Age 1-3 years, 700 mg; 4-8 years, 1,000 mg; 9-18 years, 1,300 mg.(2) The body is limited in the amount of calcium it can absorb during a meal. To insure maximum absorption of calcium, it is best to take supplements periodically throughout the day with meals and with vitamin D. Chewable calcium supplements are not new, they have been on the market for years to address stomach discomfort and bone mineral density.

But now calcium supplements have added vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is the active form of vitamin D. The body makes vitamin D from cholesterol and requires exposure to sunlight. Sunlight is important in this conversion, which is why children need extra vitamin D3 supplements throughout the winter months when daylight is short and skin exposure is brief.(3) Vitamin D3 promotes the absorption of it from the diet and deposits calcium into the bones. It makes good sense to add vitamin D3 to all calcium supplements.

Vitamin D3 supplements have been hot in the supplement market for several years now due to a large body of evidence that suggests higher levels of vitamin D3 offers immune system support not observed with other forms of vitamin D. While larger doses of vitamin D3 may be beneficial, we recommend following the RDA for the specific age group.

Sunshine Heroes Calcium Plus D3 contains 300 mg of calcium and 300 IU of vitamin D3 per serving. This is a safe and effective dose of both vitamin D and calcium for children.

Urashima M, Segawa T, Okazaki M, et al.
Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr 2010;91:1255-60.

Why Exercise Makes You Smarter [infographic]

February 19 2013 | Brain Health | Children's Health | Exercise | Infographic

Exercise might be as crucial for your brain as diet is. In fact, studies show a lack of exercise doesn't just affect the body. It also has significant affects on growing brain cells. Mice that ran 3 miles each night doubled their hippocampus size over time.

OnlineCollegCourses put together a nice graphic to show how exercise increases the performance of the brain, especially in youth. Some of the stats below include:

  • In elementary kids, 40 minutes of daily exercise caused an average IQ increase of 3.8 points.
  • The fittest students scored 30% higher on tests than average students (less-fit students scored 20% lower)
  • Those who regularly play sports show a 20% improvement in math, science, english and social studies
  • Fit 18 year olds were more likely to go onto higher education
  • Students who worked out before class improved test scores 17% on average
  • Employees who exercise regularly are 15% more efficient

How Working Out Can Make You Smarter Infographic

How Our CEO Uses Nature's Sunshine Products to Support His Health

October 18 2012 | Children's Health | Immune Health | Product Quality

By Michael Dean, CEO of Nature's Sunshine Products

I cannot count the number of personal testimonials I’ve heard from colleagues and distributors from around the world, attesting to the power of our people and our quality products.

After 40 years, I can only imagine how many millions of people Nature's Sunshine has helped in their lives and with their health. It is staggering to me, and it humbles me to think of the impact that we had as a company, as a family and as individuals.

I’d like to share my own testimonial. While my story is not amazing or overwhelming, it is personal and true.

Nature's Harvest green drink was a hit at Dallas Leaders Conference.

When I joined Nature's Sunshine, I was new to the business of helping people with their health, as I had come from industries that were not related to health and wellness. I also did not have a full appreciation of the value of dietary supplementation. I have very rarely taken pharmaceuticals, including virtually no use of pain killers or aspirin. I did not take vitamins or herbs either, nor did I see much reason to (mistakenly!).

How Nature's Sunshine Has Supported Health in Michael's Family


I have enjoyed excellent health my whole life, without a single serious illness, and I have never stayed a night in a hospital or even broken a bone. I am not a good customer for doctors, having provided them little to prescribe. The joke among my buddies is that I’m the healthiest man alive (they somehow meant it as an insult, but I still don’t get the joke).

However, I now have three kids that are 11 years and under. And for the last decade, I seem to have contracted almost every cold and flu that they had. I don’t get too sick and I recover quickly, but I contract the sickness nonetheless. As long as you don’t ask me at the time of sickness, I will tell you that it is a reasonable cost of being close to my children. This has happened several times every single year without fail.

When I became the CEO of Nature's Sunshine, it was important for me to begin using our products so that I could have firsthand familiarity and understanding of them. I have used a regimen of products (Super Trio®, SmartMealNature’s Harvest, Nutri-Calm® and many more) almost every day now for nearly three years.

And I think I’ve had only one stuffy nose during this entire time. Nature’s Sunshine products clearly provides my immune system with the support it needs. My kids continued to get the typical seasonal colds and illnesses, so of course, I now have them taking our products, too. The only thing left is to get their entire schools on Nature's Sunshine products, and then we’ll have all of our bases covered! And maybe a few future distributors? Okay, I’ve gone too far.

So you see, my story is not miraculous, and perhaps many of you have similar ones. But then, we impact lives in ways both big and small. All that matters is that we help. I am clearly healthier now that I use Nature's Sunshine products daily.

This is my small story, but it is a part of why I have such belief in what we do and such optimism for our future.


About Michael Dean

Michael D. Dean is the President and CEO of Nature’s Sunshine and serves as a member of the Board of Nature’s Sunshine Products. Prior, Mr. Dean served as Chief Executive Officer of Mediaur Technologies Inc., responsible for all aspects of the privately-owned satellite technology company that provides proprietary antenna system solutions for both private industries and governments. Before joining Mediaur, Mr. Dean worked at The Walt Disney Company from 1997 to 2003. He was Executive Vice President of ABC Cable Networks, a multi-billion dollar global division of Disney, where he was responsible for the non-creative, day-to-day business, including Affiliate Sales and Marketing, Finance, Legal, Broadcasting Operations, IT, Human Resources, and Business Development. Earlier at Disney, he was Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategic Planning and Development, responsible for all corporate strategy, development and deal work in Disney’s broadcasting, cable, and film studio businesses. Before Disney, Mr. Dean was a strategy consultant with Bain & Company and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Why School Lunch is Now a Threat to National Security

September 25 2012 | Children's Health | Family Health | General | News | Nutrition

Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and now ... School Lunch.

That's the story in a new report, "Still Too Fat to Fight," from a group of about 300 retired military leaders. They say all the extra calories consumed by young people are making them "too fat to fight." And with too many fat kids, there won't be enough able bodies to protect the United States. 

"Three-quarters of those ages 17 to 24, or about 26 million young people, cannot serve in the military, a quarter of them because they are overweight or obese, says retired Air Force lieutenant general Norman Seip, a spokesman for Mission: Readiness, which advocates policies that would help young Americans get ready to serve."

"We look at childhood obesity not only as a health crisis but a national security issue," Seip said. "When 25% of young people can't join the military simply because they are overweight, that's an issue that needs to be dealt with."

In 1946, the military came out with something similar to change eating habits in schools. But back then, it wasn't that there were too many empty calories -- it was because there wasn't enough nurishment. They helped pass the original National School Lunch program to make sure kids got enough to eat. 

Main Points From "Still Too Fat to Fight"


While the debate may roll on about whether or not a fat kid can launch rockets as well as throwing down potato chips, the report does bring up some serious issues. Some of those include:

  • 40% of students who buy high-calorie, low-nutrient junk food from school vending machines and cafeteria a la carte lines consume an average of 130 calories a day from those types of foods (candy, chips, cookies, pastries). That's roughly 5% to 10% of the calories kids and teens should eat in a day.

  • Junk food adds up to 400 billion "empty" calories in a year or the calories in almost 2 billion candy bars, which would weigh almost 90,000 tons, more than the weight of the aircraft carrier Midway (70,000 tons).

  • Three-quarters of those ages 17 to 24, or about 26 million young people, cannot serve in the military, a quarter of them because they are overweight or obese.

  • About a third of children and teens are obese or overweight, putting kids at a greater risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other health problems.

  • Obesity is still climbing among boys ages 12 to 19.

  • Male rates of being overweight or obese (73%) in the U.S. are already higher than those of any other major country.

  • Many accepted recruits are diverted to special training to address inadequate physical fitness before they can even begin basic training.

  • About 40% of elementary, middle and high school students -- 16 million school kids -- bought and consumed junk food and sugar-sweetened drinks on any given day.
This report is just part of a trend of people wanting the government to step in to control obesity. Last week, after New York passsed a bill to limit soft drinks, the New York Health Chief said governments should regulate food companies on unhealthy ingredients in products that contribute to obesity, an epidemic that now affects 1-in-3 Americans and costs the U.S. $150 billion a year. 

"This is a team effort. This is not a spectator sport," Seip said in a USAToday article. "There's a role for everyone to play -- whether it be parents, government, schools, the medical community, food and beverage industry -- to turn the childhood obesity epidemic around."

But what do you think?

While there are serious issues around our children's diet, is it school lunch that should be regulated? And do you think it's really a national security issue? What are some ways to help children -- and everyone else for that matter -- get proper nutrition? Comment on our Facebook discussion about this topic


With New Regulations, Will Schools Be Full of 'Healthy Trash Cans?'

August 20 2012 | Children's Health | Nutrition

Kids can say goodbye to simple sugars, corndogs, trans fats, whitebreads, and other foods bulging with calories and sodium at school lunch rooms.

The Department of Agriculture has put its proverbial foot down. The young population of this country will now be eating whole grains, fruits and veggies.

At least, the USDA hopes they will.

But if you’ve ever had to PERSUADE kids to eat healthy food, you’ve probably also raised your white flag a time or two, and given in to pizza, chicken fingers and french fries.

That’s the concern many have over the USDA’s new guidelines (the biggest update to school-food guidelines in 15 years) that will be in effect this Fall.

“We don’t want healthy trash cans. We want kids who are eating this stuff,” said Kern Halls in a recent Washington Post article. She’s a former Disney World restaurant manager who now works in school nutrition at Orange County Public Schools in Florida. 

Here are some more of those guidelines. Schools must:

  • Set calorie and sodium limits
  • Dark green, orange or red veggies once/week
  • Legumes once a week
  • Students required to select one vegetable per meal
  • Students required to select one fruit per meal
  • Flavored milk must be nonfat
  • Ban on artificial, artery-clogging trans fats

It’s one thing to require kids to select veggies. It’s another thing to make sure those same kids put that food into their mouths. School cafeterias are being trained on marketing healthy foods, positioning them on colorful plates in the service line, motivating kids to be healthy, and are recruiting parents to be “food coaches. They’re even giving away iPads to students who eat healthy.

Your Turn

Because food is arguably the most important influence on your brain cells, on your energy levels and your overall mood, this is a worthy goal. But will it work? How would you motivate kids to eat healthy? We're talking about this on Facebook and our new Google+ page if you want to chime in. 

Top Five Tips for Raising Healthy Children

September 9 2010 | Children's Health | Family Health

As parents, we know that doing what’s best for our child includes more than giving them a house to live in and food to eat.  But still, it’s hard to know exactly what to do so a child stays smart, active and happy.  With all of life’s responsibilities sitting on our shoulders, it’s crucial that we make a conscious effort to help our children learn and grow.  Here are five parenting tips you can follow to encourage your child to reach his or her full potential:


Children's Health

Providing your child with a healthy diet is critical when it comes to developing a strong, able body.  Because vitamin deficiencies cause many health problems that could last a lifetime, it’s important to limit your child’s consumption of junk food.  The first 18 years of a person’s life are most crucial when it comes to developing healthy bodies—so help your child make those years count! Consider vitamin supplements to better ensure that your child stays nourished with the nutrients they need.

The importance of physical activity in a child’s life cannot be stressed enough.  This can be accomplished by going to the playground, riding a bike, dancing, or playing tag.  Activities such as these will help your child develop strong bones and muscles as well as avoid the ever-increasing problem of childhood obesity.

While adults are bombarded with reality, children are blessed with boundless imaginations.  In a child’s mind, fairies exist, reindeer can fly and your living room floor is a pool of hot lava.  This magic only lasts for a short time, so don’t discourage them from playing pretend. Your child could even exercise creativity with supplies like empty paper towel rolls, string and glue.  Encourage them to use their imaginations and let their creative minds run!  Creativity is what makes people good innovative problem solvers.

In the first few years of life, children most rapidly learn from observation. So the best way to teach the essentials of life is by example.  Since the majority of a child’s life is spent in the home, some of the most important steps in a child’s education happen there. Encourage them to ask questions.  And when these questions come, be patient and help them understand.

Childproof your house to the age of your child.  If you have a baby, frequently get on your hands and knees to check the floor and any other place they might find small, swallowable items.  And while you’re down there, cover all open electrical outlets. When it comes to preventing drowning, remember to never leave your baby near water, even if it’s only an inch deep.  One inch of water is all it takes for a baby to drown. 

Before you strap your child into a car seat, make sure you know the proper weight requirements.  And don’t install a car seat without thoroughly reading the instructions.  Even if it’s for a short time, avoid leaving your baby alone in hot places.  Your child’s body heat can increase five times more quickly than the average adult.  Extreme heat can injure your baby or even result in death.  As your child becomes more independent, make sure you teach him/her the safe way to cross the street.  And don’t forget to require helmets whenever they are on bikes and scooters.

Fight Picky Eater Syndrome with Vitamin Supplements

September 8 2010 | Children's Health | Family Health

Is your child a picky eater? The body develops most rapidly in the first 18 years of life, so it’s vital for children to receive all of the vitamins and minerals they need to grow into healthy adults.  And because children solely rely on their parents to nourish their bodies, the burden of supplying kids with essential nutrients falls on adults.

Children are picky eaters

Some children are good eaters, but more likely than not, your child gets picky when meal time rolls around.  If your child consistently rejects nutritious foods (or even if he/she doesn’t), it never hurts to give them a vitamin supplement.  Doing so will only boost your confidence that your child has the nourishment required to grow up “big and strong.”

Without some of the most fundamental vitamins, the body cannot properly perform tasks that regulate normal development.  For example, insufficient amounts of calcium, vitamin C and vitamin D can greatly increase the potential risk of osteoporosis and bone brittleness.  More severe deficiencies of these vitamins may even result in stunted growth or skeletal deformities. Vitamins A and C make children far less susceptible to the common cold or winter flu.  And necessary amounts of vitamins and nutrients like omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D can even help prevent some of the deadliest types of cancer.  

Even if it seems inconvenient to make the extra effort, giving your children these essential nutrients, whether through a well-balanced diet, vitamin supplements or both, will benefit their health for the rest of their lives.  To learn more about essential vitamins for children, browse top vitamins at naturessunshine.com.

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