Saturday, January 06, 2007

Curing Small Children with Pale Faces and Dark Circles Under the Eyes

Curing Small Children with Pale Faces and Dark Circles Under the Eyes

My experiences suggest that several grams a day of vitamin C, activated by extra B-vitamins are much more effective at addressing the health problems of little children. It makes me very sad that parents and pediatricians are afraid of this safe and simple treatment. After blogging for over a year, I still feel this way. Read more here, here, and here

Every time I go to the mall, I see small children walk by with pale faces and dark circles under their eyes. I see a sick child in need of help. No one else sees anything wrong. I have found myself powerless to help.

My recommended cure uses sunshine and three supplements that are inexpensive and easy to find. Sunshine is essential for good health. Vitamin D, one of only four vitamins that prevent named deficiency diseases, is manufactured by skin exposed to sunshine. Sunblock should only be used after your child has been exposed to 30 minutes of bright sunshine. The three supplements are 500 mg chewable vitamin C tablets, children’s chewable multivitamins, and 250 mg time-release niacin gel caps. If you have a toddler with a pale face and dark circles under the eyes, feed him or her 6 of the vitamin C tablets, one multivitamin, and 1/2 of one 250 mg time-release niacin gel cap. Follow up with 4 more vitamin C tablets before bedtime. Many toddlers are happy to take one kid’s chewable multivitamin and lots of chewable vitamin C. These taste good. The half niacin gel cap is the only toddler-unfriendly ingredient. Fortunately, niacin has a mild flavor. The gel cap is filled with tiny spheres. Break the gel cap in two and add half of the spheres to ice cream or pudding, or some other soft, sweet, toddler-friendly food. The niacin may cause the toddler to flush – a temporary reddening of the skin. Although the flushing can be unpleasant, it is harmless. Further, flushing is unusual with time-release niacin gel caps at such a low dosage. Keep going with 125 mg/day of time release niacin and the vitamin C, 4 chewable tablets every morning and every bedtime until the dark circles are gone and are replaced by rosy cheeks. Sunshine, 4 chewable vitamin C tablets and a multivitamin should be obtained every day, even when healthy.

Why are so few other people concerned with toddlers that have pale faces and dark circles under their eyes? More importantly, why are so few other parents concerned? Does anyone really believe that these toddlers are in robust good health? Is it just a feeling of helplessness? Is it because the condition doesn’t have a name?

I’m willing to go out on a limb and give the condition a name. The name is immunodeficiency. Toddlers all go through a crucial period of immune system development. These years are their first exposure to the ordinary diseases that are a natural part of our environment. The most ordinary of these ordinary diseases are viral respiratory tract infections. Because toddlers are developing immunity, the average toddler has 8 to 10 respiratory tract infections/year. A typical infection lasts a week start to finish. Therefore the average toddler is dealing with a cold for 3 months of every year. This means below average toddlers are dealing with a cold more than half the year. I believe that this can cause tremendous stress and runs the risks of permanent consequences. That’s why I’m alarmed when I see these kids.

So, in this blog I’ve given a medical name to toddlers with pale faces and dark circles under their eyes – immunodeficiency. The serious (in my opinion) nature of their condition no longer lacks for a serious sounding name. I’ve gone out on a limb and provided a remedy that is easily implemented. That takes away the excuse of helplessness.

All parents should be open to the idea that toddlers with pale faces and dark circles could be in better health. All parents should be open to the possibility that extra vitamins are especially useful for rapidly growing toddlers. I know where that leaves parents. They can try the recommended remedy and know that they are nearly on their own without the support of friends, family, or pediatricians. Or they can do nothing and risk the consequences of their inaction – asthma, obesity, chronic respiratory infections, learning disabilities, sinusitis, ear infections, etc. Most will not act.


At 9:36 PM, Blogger Alex said...

Thanks for your post. I am a firm believer in taking the natural route first whenever my son (who is 2 1/2) is sick. I've noticed that lately he has dark circles under his eyes and my google search bought me to this article. I'm going to give the Vitamin C a try. My husband and I take 1000 mg of VItamin C almost daily and feel pretty good. I imagine my son will also benefit greatly from your Vitamin C recommendations.

At 5:07 PM, Blogger NJ said...

hmmm....I USED to think exactly like you Steve....until I had a (sickly looking) child of my own. ALLERGIES...yes, to dust, mold, ragweed, trees. He is only three! It's amazing what a few simple changes at home has made and things that we have found that have deeply impacted and possibly caused the allergy in the first place (water settling in our central a/c air handler in the attic...MOLD). It's amazing how easy it is to jump to conclusions "at a glance" when you look at someone. BTW, I am a home grown/organic/natural as they get...

At 9:13 PM, Blogger .-.-.-.- said...

my son and daughter have these circles... I give them a multivitamin... good quality... I guess that may not be enough? ~ kim

At 9:42 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks for your comment. I agree that allergies are also an important root cause of pale faces and dark circles. By all means, parents should have their children checked for allergies if they are not thriving. In my opinion, the vitamins I recommend will help whatever strategy is employed to fight the allergies. I believe parents should protect their children from allergens and give them a multivitamin, extra niacin, and vitamin C.

At 1:42 AM, Blogger monica said...

If I were to walk through the mall with my 6 year old, I would be one of the people targeted in this blog. A parent that doesn't care, or seem to. And I guess that's why I am responding. Because you are making a huge assumption when you see people and don't know their story. I personally don't feel attacked by this article and feel that parents should definitely do what is necessary to keep their children in good health. Let me tell you my story, and how such comments don't always apply.

My son has been sick his entire life. I have been called everything from an "over-worried first time mother" to a "mother with Munchausens." My son has many diseases and I have always advocated for his health, even at the expense of friendships and family relations. When my son was 4, after trying elimination diets, and putting him on a gluten free diet, and using Papaya Enzymes to stabilize his gut because he had diarrhea his whole life, I finally saw a commercial about PI (or Primary Immunodeficiency). It was a 30 second commercial which has saved my sanity.

To make a long story short, I took my son 475 miles away to a Pediatric Immunologist that specialized in PI. The very first thing he did was test my son for allergies, which I knew for sure my son had. One of the reasons I was so sure was because of his pale skin and dark circles under his eyes.

When the doctor came back into the room to inform me that my son had absolutely NO allergies, my first thought was that he was crazy. Then he told me he would perform a humoral essay study. This was a 2 part test and I had to return in a month.

6 weeks later, I found out that my son has an Antibody Deficiency. He also has non-allergic rhinitis and moderate asthma.

My son takes asthma meds, prophylactic antibiotics, rhinitis med and nerve pain medicine. Because he is on all of these medicines I have been informed by all of his specialists and his pharmacist that I am under no circumstances to add ANYTHING including natural medicines to his regimen.

I don't like to have to give my son ANY medicine, especially synthetic. But I am dealing with a child who has multiple brain cysts, syringomyelia, Chiari Malformation 1, Ehlers Danlos Type 4, a cystic mass in his sacrum, among other things. At this point, 6 months after brain surgery, we are looking at another brain surgery. We are also looking at possible spine surgery. My son is in constant pain and cannot tell when he needs to go to the bathroom without medication.

So, back to the shiners. Tonight he was sent to bed with shiners. He is pale. I will take him in in the morning and they will most likely diagnose a sinus infection. I have done and am doing everything possible to keep my child healthy. But when I walk through the mall and I cross your path (theoretically), the assumption is, I'm not advocating for my child. I hope that you now realize that that's not always true. I just thought you should hear the other side of the story.

At 9:20 PM, Blogger Steve said...


I'm so sorry that you've misunderstood me! This column is written for you, not against you. You are afraid to give your son extra vitamins because your pediatricians have recommended strongly against this course of action.

Your son gets vitamins supplements every day in the food that he eats. If your son did not get any vitamins, he would die. If you choose to give your son extra vitamin C, extra niacin, and a multivitamin, you will only be increasing the daily dose of nutrients he is already eating.

If you left your son in my care, I would take the risk of feeding him vitamin supplements. I would not expect the vitamins to make much of an immediate, obvious difference. Your son has many problems, some of which could heal with time. Extra vitamin C and extra vitamins have proven, healing powers.

If you read my other columns, you'll understand that I agree with your decision to seek professional help and treat your son with prescription medication. The medications attack the illnesses. The vitamins are complementary. They help the body heal. It's a little bit over simplistic, but perhaps useful to think of prescription medications as tools that attack diseases and vitamins as tools that promote healing.

Whatever you decide, I'll keep your son in my prayers.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by the site and share your story.

At 2:33 PM, Anonymous Mommaboo said...

I am so thankful that i have found this comlumn! Just today I told my husband we had to figure out why are 2 and half yr. old daughter always looked so much more pale & sickly than other chidren!! Im running out to buy vitamins now! Thankyou!

At 7:12 PM, Blogger Steve said...


I'm glad you found the column too. Thanks so much for the encouraging comments. Progress happens one child at a time.

At 1:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How important is the niacin to be in the gel cap sphere form? I purchased (without realizing) anti-flushing niacin powder capsules.

Also- how soon would one notice a difference in the appearance of their child? Thank you so much.

At 11:36 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks for asking about the type of niacin. The niacin you purchased is probably niacin inositol, or some other ester of niacin. It will probably work fine. I used time-release niacin with my kids so that's what I recommend because I am conservative. I also prefer time-release niacin because the safety is so well understood. Go ahead and use the niacin you bought. But next time try and get the time-release niacin that I recommend.

At 6:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for this information. i was recently told that there is a vitamin deficiency connected to my sons pale skin and dark circles. he's been like this since birth, and i just assumed he's one of those people with dark circles. but recently my sister (a preschool teacher) told me that her co-worker went to some seminar where they explained that there is a link between those kid's and their attitudes and it's some type of vitamin deficieny, something since birth. i've search and thanks to you ahve found my answer. let you know if his attitude gets better.

At 3:52 AM, Anonymous vh said...


I'm glad I found your column, too. I've been worrying about my 4yr old daughter's conditions lately. She seems a bit low energy, gloomy, irritable, not sleeping well at night and most recently dark circles under the eyes. I will try your vitamin c recommendations for her dark circles under the eyes, but do you have other ideas why she might be this way? I know she doesn't eat enough (very very small portions) each meal to get the nutrients -- maybe this is the reason why. She gets full on really small portions and it's hard to get her to eat more. I'm thinking of trying vitamin B6 on her too, what do you think? I got a list of foods containing vitamin B6 and ready to hit the market tomorrow -- guess it doesn't hurt to start with the foodlist. Anyway, I've been researching the internet to trying to find out what's wrong with my daughter before I make the appointment to the pediatrition.

I'm glad to have stumbled on your column.

Thank you kindly,

At 6:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...


My recommendation is more than vitamin C. It is vitamin c, time-release niacin, and a multivitamin. The multivitamin contains a decent dose of vitamin B6. The three supplements I recommend are enough of a challenge to get into a 4 year old every day.

Here's my recommendations from the column:

6 chewable 500 mg vitamin C tablets, one multivitamin, and 1/2 of one 250 mg time-release niacin gel cap or tablet. Follow up with 4 more vitamin C tablets before bedtime.

If you can manage the entire recommendation, please post a comment letting us know how you managed to persuade your daughter to eat all the vitamins. It wasn't hard for me with my kids, but all children are different.

At 4:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve, Are you saying to give a toddler 3000mg of vitamin C? I have a two year old who has some dark circles under his eyes. I give him half of a chewable Flintstone and half of a 500mg. tablet of chewable vitamin C. He has a wonderful diet (chicken, avacado, veggies, fruits, etc). I try to buy organic when I can get it. I can't see giving him three times the amount of vitamin C that I take and I'm an adult. I'm also a nutrionist as well and feel the natural way is the only way. Thanks

At 6:39 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Anonymous Nutritionist,

As hard as it is to believe, 3000 mg/day is a conservative dose. It is only 50% higher than the UL of 2000 mg set by the Food and Nutrition board. The UL means that >95% of the population can take 2000 mg/day until they die with no harm. We're not recommending 3000 mg/day forever - just until the toddler gets well. 3000 mg/day is much lower than the highest doses reported (20,000 mg/day for toddlers) here.

I'm a scientist. I believe in what works, and try not to lose sleep trying to define a treatment as natural or un-natural. As a scientist, however, I'm comforted by the "naturalness" of this treatment. Fred Klenner reported teas made from plants contain 10,000 to 30,000 mg of vitamin C per cup and have long been used to ward off colds. See his report here.

At 2:54 PM, Anonymous Ashley said...

I will definitely try your suggestions about the vitamins. My 2 year old looks horrible..... very pale skin with very dark circles under her eyes. She has acutally been diagnosed with an immune deficiency (when she was 7 moths old) and is receiving IVIG treatments every other week and has been for over a year. She has had fever every day of her life (no lie) since she was 6 weeks old..... We have an MRI scheduled next week to rule out a hypothalamus dysfunction, but I feel that it's all related to her low IgG levels. I do appreciate your suggestion and hope it helps her weak immune system.

At 10:23 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Ashley,

I'm so sorry about your daughter. My thoughts and prayers will be with her, and you as well. I'm sure life is a struggle with a child who is so sick.

Please try the doses recommended in the column, and then come on back to the column and share your experience. If the recommended doses don't appear to be working, come on back for more advice. Your daughter is very sick and may benefit from more aggressive treatment.

Finally, make sure you get all the help you can from your pediatrician. Keep going with the testing and any recommended medications. Vitamins and pharmaceuticals often work better together than either do alone.

At 10:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


My nine year old has pale skin and dark circles under her eyes. She is being teased at school and its upsetting her. We have tried lots of water, extra sleep and an anti histamine none of which have got rid of the dark circles. What dosage should I give her of the vitamins? She is a healthy, lively girl apart from these circles.

At 7:52 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

I'm glad you found this column. Thanks for taking the time to leave a note. My working hypothesis, until disproven, is that safe vitamin doses don't change much with age. This is contrary to the situation with drugs, where toxicity is often a function of body weight. As a consequence, I recommend the same doses for 9-year-olds as for toddlers. I believe infants are best breast fed and that the mother should take extra vitamins.

So, there it is. Can your daughter swallow pills? If so, give her four 1 gm tablets of vitamin C (two pills in the morning and two in the evening), one 250 mg time-release niacin tablet or gel cap, and one multivitamin/mineral tablet. It will take longer for the dark circles to clear up in a 9-year old than in a toddler - give it a few months. You may also want to consider allergies. Doctors don't have any good way to test for food allergies - the easiest thing to try is a pseudo-fast for just 3 days. Pick a food like oatmeal or rice and have your daughter eat only oatmeal and/or rice for 3 days. This is pretty drastic and you and your daughter may not feel it's worth it. There's certainly no harm trying the vitamins first. There are a couple of other things I might recommend if this basic vitamin plan doesn't work. So - please come on back if this - the easiest solution - doesn't work.

At 10:01 PM, Anonymous wjb said...

Steve, Thank you for your Jan. '07article I just found. I know my 3.5yo daughter has food alleries and we are addressing those. As far as supplements, I'm wondering whether you think the Emergen-C product is a good one to use? The adult version has 100mg/C plus a broad B vitamins, the children's has B vitamins with 500mg/C--both are in a fizzy, tasty flavored drink mix. Or, is using a separate chewable C and multivitamin a better absorbed option for kids? Thank you!!!

At 6:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been giving my daughter the vit c and vit b for just three days and already the difference is incredible. Thank you.

At 9:50 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks for writing. Curing pale faces requires 2000 to 10,000 mg/day of vitamin C. The chewable tablets are typically 500 mg. So - your daughter should take at least 3 with breakfast and 3 more at bedtime. The Emergen-C does not have even close to enough. What it does is substitute for a multivitamin. I recommend two multivitamins/day for kids with pale faces. Time-release niacin is the final essential ingredient and it has to be purchased separately.

Good luck.

I know that this advice works. I have seen it with my own eyes many times. I also know it works because I'm not seeing negative comments from disappointed parents. For some reason, when the vitamins work, people just take their regained health for granted and go on with their lives (for some reason I do the same thing myself). This was a long prelude to commenting that I was very happy that an anonymous just dropped a comment letting us know that the vitamins were making an "incredible" difference in just three days. Great news! Keep spreading the words. There are millions more children out there who can benefit from extra vitamins too.

At 2:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally disagree with everything written on this page except for the post about the ladys son GO HER!!!! If you feel your child looks sick he or she might be ask your childs DOCTOR what to do not some nut job of the net if you want them to have more vitamins FEED them more vitamin enriched foods!!!!!! there are plenty to choose from!!! i'm here to see what ppll say my 3 year old looks pale and has the dark circles but im not gonna start popping him full of pills and vitamins it just means we need to add a little more variety of vitamin filled foods!!!! USE YOUR BRAINS!!!!!!!

At 9:11 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks for your comments. All views are welcome.

I completely agree with you that it is urgent to take sickly children to see a pediatrician, to follow up with specialists as recommended, and to take any prescribed medications. I do not recommend using vitamins as an alternative to conventional care and healthy food. I recommend vitamins as supplemental to these approaches.

I simply don't understand your passion. Why do you want to bully me into not feeding my kids extra vitamin C, extra niacin, and a multivitamin? You make it sound like I'm tormenting my children. (I'm not - don't ask me - ask them). Do you think the vitamins I recommend aren't safe? (the facts speak for themselves - these vitamins are sold without childproof caps and have the enviable lable of "generally recognized as safe" GRAS). Do you think the vitamins will neutralize the effect of conventional medications? (they don't - go to the Physicians Desk Reference - vitamins are rarely counter-indicated) Do you think vitamin makers are extorting outrageous profits by playing on the fears of parents? (they aren't - the vitamin C, niacin, and multivitamins I recommend can be purchased for just pennies a day. Generic vitamins are now a low margin, commodity product like flour or sugar with similar margins). Do you have an idea that I'm recommending an unending, undefined plan with no milestones? (I'm not. You should be happier about the health of your child within weeks of starting my recommendations) If the vitamins aren't working and your child is getting worse, or isn't getting better, by all means stop.

Please reconsider your logic. There is much to be gained and almost nothing to lose by seeing if extra vitamin C, niacin, and multivitamins can return your child to excellent health.

At 9:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Steve

I had over the years taken my daughter to my GP, Consultant and a private Consultant. All three said she has dark circles as she is part Asian and Greek and her condidtion is hereditary. I totally diagree with them as not one member in either of the families have this condition. I believe it is an allergy but am at my wits end as my daughter is now a teenager and appearance matters. I did take her to a Kineologist who gave me a strict diet for her, which I find very hard to keep to as when she is at school/parties/other relatives she is tempted to eat the 'banned' food. Also I do not give them a lot of red meat. She also has a left displastic kidney therefore I am worried about giving her or my other children with the same condition the vitamin tablets advised. If safe for them I will try.

At 7:31 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks for stopping by.

Please read my recent post about four special nutrients. In addition to the vitamin C, niacin, and multivitamin, you should consider supplementing your daughter with vitamin D and thiamine (as TTFD - preferably rubbed into the skin with cream).

I am not a physician and am not familiar with your daughter's kidney condition. I recommend checking with your pediatrician to double check the safety.

Do not ask your pediatrician if the vitamins are a good idea - just check on the safety and ask to see evidence. If your pediatrician says the vitamins are not safe, I'd recommend getting a second opinion. If you conclude they are not safe, please come back to the site and let me know why or provide me with contact information for the pediatricians. I collect all the information I can get on vitamin safety, and would like any new information for my files.

I'll be keeping you and your daughter in my thoughts. Good luck.

At 3:20 AM, Anonymous Tamsin said...

Hi to the Anonymous person that decided to hit a full on frontal assault against Steves "SUGGESTIONS". Perhaps not all of us are so lucky as to have a child that will eat enough vitamin enriched foods!!! My 3 year old son refuses to eat meats, vegetables or fruits. The only thing he will eat without arguement and hysterics is Yoghurts, cheese sticks and drink Milk. which although good sources of vitamins and minerals they are not enough. He has dark cirlces under his eyes and looks like he has been 10 rounds with Mike Tyson, but although I have my reservations about what Steve is saying (sorry Steve) I'm not about to be so close minded and pig headed. I'll give the vitamin C a try. I give my son a multivitamin already and I remember those yummy chewable Vitamin C tablets that do absolutely no harm to anybody.

At 9:48 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Tamsin,

Thanks so much for your comments.

I'm glad that you're going to add vitamin C to your child's diet. Please also consider adding the time-release niacin. Like the vitamin C, you can also say to yourself that the niacin will "do absolutely no harm to anyone". Please don't think too much about it - just give it a try. Then come back in six months and update us on the dark circles.

I hope that all readers have reservations about what I'm saying. My recommendations are far from the mainstream. I'm claiming that the RDA's for children are inadequate, and I'm accusing pediatricians of not providing good care for the children that count on them. I had a very uncomfortable relationship with my children's pediatrician. She refused to recommend that I take my children off the vitamins (their improved health spoke for itself), and she also refused to recommend vitamins to other children. So - it is what it is.

At 4:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Steve,

I am here today because my son has always been a bit pale, and ALWAYS has the dark circles under his eyes like I have always had too. He has had them since birth. I just always assumed they were hereditary? I will definitley try the vitamins you recommended and see what happens, as his skin is looking even more pale despite being outside this summer. Can you tell me EXACTLY what causes this condition, what's happening in our bodies that makes us this way? Also, should I been on the same protocol/dosage for mine as well?

At 9:44 AM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for your post - you've come to the right place.

Yes. You should also be supplementing with a similar strategy. Please see my post titled "Four Special Nutrients" (just type these words into Google and the post is the first hit).

No. I can not explain exactly what causes you and your son to have pale faces and dark circles. Many different failures in metabolism and disease conditions will lead to these generic symptoms. I can't explain much because I don't have any information about your son. What's extraordinary about this situation, is that I know that your son will respond positively to the recommended doses of vitamins because these vitamins are involved in almost every instance of poor health in a child (this is not true for adults).

Your pediatrician can do a great deal of blood testing. This is a good way to look for clues as to what may be the trouble. Your son may have some conditions that would respond to pharmaceuticals (e.g. allergies, sub-optimal lung function....). Please make sure your pediatrician fully understands your concerns, and please try any recommended medications.

On behalf of your son, thank you for trying the vitamins. Working together, vitamins and modern pharmaceuticals will work miracles and promise to bring most of the population into excellent health.

At 12:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve, I found this information: "Your vitamin C requirement depends on your age, your gender, and whether you are lactating or pregnant.

The recommended intakes are :

Women: 75 mg per day
Pregnant women: 80-85 mg
Lactating women: 115-120 mg
Men: 90 mg for men.
Children 1-3 years: 15 mg
Children 4-8 years: 25 mg
Children 9-13 years: 45 mg
Children 14-18: 75 mg for boys and 65 mg for girls

However, your body's need for vitamin C can go up if you have certain diseases or medical conditions. Also, other conditions like smoking make you more likely to be deficient. In any case, your daily requirement will never be more than say, 200 mg.

And you are wrong, there is harm in taking too much vitamin C, though it takes a lot, and the problems aren't life-threatening, mostly stomach and hormonal problems. The chronic toxic dose for adults is 2000 milligrams, and much less for younger people." at this website: ""

I was just wondering if he was right about taking too much Vitamin C? He says 2000mg/day should never be exceeded for an 3,000 mg per day plus the other stuff really OK for my 3.5 year old?

I just know overdoses with other vitamins happen...just wondering.

Thankyou for your suggestion. After your response, I might try it.

At 8:07 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments.

Please start by seeing my column titled "Four Special Nutrients". Just type these words into Google. This column discusses the basics of the side effects of the four most important vitamins. Please consider reading through my other columns. Each one is meant to have information that may help you decide on the wisdom of my recommendations for your child (children).

3.5 year old children are typically extraverted about their health. They will notice and complain about the discomforts vitamin C universally causes at sufficiently high dosage. You can start right in at the 3 g recommended and listen/observe. Alternatively, you can start at 1 g/day (1000 mg/day) for two weeks followed by 2 g/day for two weeks followed by 3 g/day. As long as you see no evidence of side effects, you have no reason to be concerned.

My clinical experience suggests that the very young and the very old have greater tolerance for vitamins than healthy adults. The fact is, however, that there aren't any controlled studies proving an age dependence of side effect thresholds for vitamin C. The author whose work you quoted had no scientific basis to claim that side effect thresholds are "much lower for younger people". The 2000 mg UL (upper safe dosage) comes from the US RDA committee. It is extremely conservative. This threshold was set because some small fraction of the population will experience chronic discomforts if they take 2000 mg vitamin C per day every day. So what? These people should stop taking vitamin C. If your child is one of these unusual people, he/she will complain about the harmless discomforts, you will stop the vitamin C, and you'll be right back where you started with no harm done beyond the experience of some temporary discomfort.

The claim that high doses of vitamin C (>200 mg) have no benefits is not factual. Vitamin C has proven antiviral properties. It does reduce the duration and severity of colds, and the benefit increases with dose out to maximum bearable doses (some people choose to suffer side effects in order to get incremental benefit). For some reason, the double-blind trials on vitamin C and colds remain controversial. The benefits of vitamin C for skin are less controversial. Please read my column on vitamin C and wound healing titled "Kill Cancer with Chemotherapy. Heal the wounds with vitamin C..." High potency vitamin C skin creams are becoming more and more popular.

FYI I have been taking at least 5000 mg/day of vitamin C for 14 years. Just weeks ago I was bitten by an insect and came down with a sudden/severe illness. I took 100 g vitamin C during a 24 hour period followed by almost a week at between 20 and 30 g/day. I missed one day of work. The point here is not to debate the effectiveness of the treatment. The point is to demonstrate the ability of at least one individual - me - to tolerate astonishingly high doses of vitamin C when ill.

Please consider providing your child with the doses of vitamin C and niacin that I recommend, and a multivitamin. Your child has much to gain and little to lose by giving my recommendations a try.

At 9:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wanted to know if anyone has tried these vitamins and had success, or not? How long does it take until you see results?
My 3.5yo has dark circles under her eyes on and off for a couple of months, and she tells me they hurt. My 2yo has the same diet, but no such signs. Most articles online say it could be allergies or asthma. Now sure what to do.

At 9:32 PM, Blogger Steve said...


I'm sorry it took so long for me to reply. This comment string has been quiet for the last several weeks.

Yes. I have heard from many parents who have succeeded by following the recommendations in this blog. Please also see my most recent posts and get your children out in the sunshine without sun block to ensure plenty of vitamin D. Of course, don't let them burn either.

The vitamins work slowly. It takes months, or even years, to achieve the full effect. If it was easy to see the vitamins working, doses for children would have been optimized long ago.

With that said, I've seen children respond almost immediately. Lots of extra vitamin C and niacin can dry up noses oozing rivers of green in just hours and have the condition clear up (no more green) in days.

The dark circles will slowly fade away over the course of weeks (not hours).

I hope you decide to try the vitamins. Your daughter has much to gain and nothing to lose.

At 3:25 PM, Blogger kimberly said...

Im glad to see that somebody else has noticed the dark circle epidemic that nobody is addressing.
In my opinion, I think that yes vitamins will help, however, I have lived, traveled, studied, and/or worked in over 17 countries (many undeveloped) and I have not see the dark circles anywhere like here in the US. I think that its quality issues and lazy ignorant parents that rather get their kids a TV and cell phone and throw their dinner in a microwave than spend a little extra time cooking and paying a little extra for a egg that is large, and with a nice orange healthy yolk rather a a tiny white egg with a sick off yellow looking yolk. Its common sense really. My 5 year old son does not have them and I barely give him vitamins. However, I breast fed him for 11 months, made homemade organic baby food, feed him whole organic foods that are not full of nitrites and other preservatives, as well as give him a healthy lifestyle that includes many outdoor activities. As with most societies around the world, I make his food home made and fresh without a microwave.
When I go to stores I observe what people buy to eat. CRAP!!!!!!!!!! chips, sodas, microwave foods, canned foods, frozen foods, veggies covered in wax and smelling like plastic, eggs and meat from sick diseased animals, hot dogs, high fructose syrup with 1% concentrated juice from a pesticide covered fruit, BBQ (straight carbon..yum,yum!), GMO's, drink water with traces of uranium (look at you local water quality chemical reports) etc...
When people from Europe travel here there are warned about are food.
All the above, in my opinion, is much of the problem. Taking vitamins will help but your just waisting money when you can eat better (with a little higher cost) and just take vitamins when needed. Supplements are just that. They are to make up for the difference. But the problem is that the diffence is WAY to big. Our society is imbedded in instant fix. Well just take a pill and that will solve the problem instead of working on the problem by taking away the problem. And its really easy too. The rest of the world does it! Hec, even so called poverty stricken areas of the world with feces running down the sides of the street, (India and Mexico) for example have healthier kids!!!! they are always eating fresh fruits and veggies from their parents/grandparents gardens, organic free range meats, coconut juice, eggs from free range, and all cooked on a stove! Imagine that! Imagine not feeding your child something that you cannot even pronounce or have no idea what it is and need to take a chemistry class to know what your eating! You are what you eat!!!!!!!!

Also, people, sunlight is affecting our health in that Vitamin D is being blocked and causing rickets in children. Another reason to start looking at the bigger pictures instead of just popping a pill.

At 3:40 PM, Blogger kimberly said...

Its just like this society to just pop a pill to make it all better! The dark circle epidemic is a result of the bad quality of food and lack of breastfed infants and parents being lazy, ignorant, and selfish. Parents will spend alot money on material stuff(nice cars, cell phones, flat screened tv, tcs for the kids, video games for he kids, nice desert toys, boob jobs and monthly trips to the hairdresser, but they buy their kids crap food and cook it in a microwave. Hot Dogs, eating diseased animals chemical induced with chemicals, GMO's, wax and pesticide covered fruits and veggies, chips, high fructose syrup with 1% concentrated juice, coco puffs, etc...that is the problem. Lack of Vit D from the sun because the sunlight is being blocked because people need to drive their Hummer or F850 Ford down to Wallmart to get a frozen dinner for the kids instead of picking the fresh veggies from their garden and steaming them on their stove.
Third world countries children do not look as unhealthy as American children. In the 17 countries that Ive been to, I observe kids eating fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, meats, and mostly from local or family farmers and their mothers breastfeed their children for more than 6 weeks. Kids need to be eating fresh roasted corn instead of cotton candy and then pop a Flynstone vitamin made from chemicals and horse hooves for dessert...oh and then go play video games until 10 at night!!

At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of these children should be tested for Celiac Disease. Although there could be additional allergies, dark circles and pale skin is one of the top symptoms for Celiac. For those unaware of this disease, it prevents your body from absorbing ANY nutrients. It's worth the simple blood test.

At 2:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about adults with pale skin and circles under the eyes. I am 27 and this seems to describe me. I know I have issues with iron and absorption. Any help would be appreciated.

At 5:17 PM, Anonymous Melissa said...


Very interesting thread... I have 4 year old daughter who eats very well, veggies, organic, no refined sugar, etc and still suffers from dark circles under her eyes and somber mood a lot of the time. She has had the ige tests for food allergies and we have since obmitted eggs and dairy from her diet. I would like to try the niacin- my question is the longevity of the treatment. How long do you dose daily and when should you change to 1-2 times per week? And then how long do you continue the weekly regimen? When she is feeling better, I'd like to transfer to just a multivitamin and niacin rich foods. thank you.

At 11:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello. I feel that although there is nothing wrong with vitamins, too much focus/concentration in this area can be not very healthy. First of all, I feel that parents need to take better care of children in different ways - not only by giving them vitamins. Parents need to dress their children appropriately when they take them outside, especially in cold weather. This will definitely reduce the frequency of colds. My heart breaks when I see infants or toddlers taken to the mall or grocery stores almost as if they were being prepared to go to bed - almost wearing nothing. Parents, on the other hand, are always dressed acoording to the weather. I feel that there is more damage int such careful attitude towards dressing children than to deficiency in their diets or not giving them vitamins. At first, make sure your baby or child is warm and then feed them or cure them. Secondly, when children get sick, usually they are given antibiotick and sent to school on the second day, if that. This is wrong approach as well, I believe. THey need rest at home (if possible) and more than one day to get bettter. I could write more and more on this topic. I am a counselor and I have more experience in treating mental health issues but I can tell everyone that taking care of children is more than just giving them correct food/nutrition and vitamins. What about nourishing their soul? If they do not get enough vitamins, there is very little chance that they will suffer physically, but if their souls will become cold and empty, then they are in real trouble. Then we have children's depression, suicide etc. A lot of vitamins do not make child feel necessarily happy or content with himself and the world around him/her. I truly believe that there is a crisis of parenting in this country which leads to children's psychological problems when they get older. THen, those kids who were used to get medication or vitamins in their childhood run to the psychiatrists with the request to prescribe them "a correct pill" that will cure them immediately....but it does not work that way....Person needs to look inside his soul (and not inside the pharmacy) to work our his problems...

At 8:05 AM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

Vitamins can be helpful for adults with pale faces and dark circles under their eyes. Generally, adults take longer to heal and are more prone to side effects. This is why I'm more passionate about children. With optimized nutritional support, children sometime quickly grow out of their problems.

In addition to taking vitamin C, niacin, and multivitamins, adults should make sure they get more vitamin D (supplements or sunshine), and thiamine (vitamin B1). Please read my entry on four special nutrients. Just type "four special nutrients" into Google and it pops up first. To help with side effects, I just wrote two entries - one on vitamin D side effects and one on niacin side effects.

Please try the vitamins in addition to your regular routine of medications and treatments. You've got much to gain and almost nothing to lose by trying the vitamins.

At 8:26 AM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks for your question.

A four year old child is changing fast. 6 months of daily dosing is long enough for the high dose to do the job. Then switch to twice a week.

As hard as it is to believe, I'm a very cautious person, especially when it comes to children. If your child is doing well with the extra vitamins (vitamin C, niacin, and multivitamins), why would you discontinue? I continuously study the vitamin literature and continue to conclude that the doses of vitamins in food are below the optimum for growing children. I supplemented my children based on fear. I was afraid to give them more and afraid to give them less. Whenever the children felt unwell for more than a day, I'd stop the vitamins to make sure they weren't the cause.

Thanks again for your question - feel free to come back and ask more questions anytime.

At 8:29 AM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

Your point about Celiac's disease is a good one. All children with pale faces should be tested for allergies and unusual diseases and treated with the best possible medications. At the same time, these kids should get extra vitamins too. Vitamins and medication work together. With luck, over the course of a few years the vitamins will heal the underlying metabolic problem and the need for medication will disappear. If your child has Celiac's disease, allergies, or any other chronic health condition, she/he has much to gain and little to lose by giving the vitamins a try.

At 9:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you sooo much Steve.You wouldnt belive how much this helps me!!Iam glad I found your column too.As a mother of a 6 year old boy I have been worrying about his pale skin and dark circles under the eyes.I give him flintstone vitamin each day,but do you think i should give him just a vitamin c tablet or both?please let me know..
oh by the way thanks a bunch.

At 6:42 PM, Blogger Steve said...

V Pruett,

Thanks for your comment. Please use all three recommended supplements - 500 mg chewable vitamin C tablets, multivitamin tablets, and time-release niacin gelcaps.

Please try the doses recommended in the column. Your son has much to gain and little to lose by giving the extra vitamins a try.

Additional questions/comments are welcome.

Thanks again for visiting the site.

At 7:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was not impressed with this article. My son has pale skin and dark circles under the eyes and looks "sickly" most of the time. He's actually one of the healthiest kids around and eats more fruits and vegetables faster than we can get them. He's never sick and misses very few days from school. He does not need vitamins because he eats great and is growing like a weed.

The pale skin and dark circles under the eyes are caused by severe nasal allergies such as dust, mold, changes in weather, etc...He's not getting enough air through his system so he looks tired and pale (lack of ciculating oxygen). The remedy is: Saline nasal spray THREE times a day, Nasonex, and Zyrtec every once in awhile. The pale skin and dark circles have vitually disapeared.

Wow, your amount recommendation of vitamin c is obsene. Moderation and varity is the key to good health. If you are not an expert, watch what you say. It could be dangerous.

At 8:29 AM, Blogger Rusty Hoge said...

"Wow, your amount recommendation of vitamin c is obsene [sic]. Moderation and varity [sic] is the key to good health."

No toxic amount of vitamin C has been shown. The dose may seem obscene, but that is because proper amounts to support optimum health are hugely more than conventional wisdom.

Your comment about moderation and variety sounds sensible but what constitutes the proper variety and proper amounts is the rub.


At 12:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip. I just thought maybe my kid wasn't going outside enough...I will try this.

At 1:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a three year old with pale skin and dark circles. I get the vitamin C & niacin, but what do you do about vitamin D when you live in a state that is virtually sunless for 8 out of 12 months?

At 1:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention he is allegic to mile.

At 3:48 PM, Blogger Gypsy Aurora said...

Hello everyone. The search for my sons condition has led me here. I have an 8yr old who has sickly dark circles under his eyes. The good thing is that I am a stay at home mom who provides a very healthy organic and balanced meals for him. He loves healthy food and will rather go to have sushi than McDonalds. I also give him a wide range of vitamin and mineral suppliments every day. I have also taken him to the Pediatrician and to our Naturopath with a healthy response. So why does he still look sickly? I don't understand what those dark circles are trying to tell me. Any advice? Thanks. ~Aurora~

At 4:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a firm believer in feeding kids lots of "good for you" foods and also taking a daily supplement because when kids first start school they will pick up most every germ flying around! My child started kindergarten this year and was sick every other week and brought it home to share with my other two kids! So basically my kids were sick for 10 months. The point is, it's normal, the doctors have all told me that they will "grow out of it." No amount of vitamins will prevent you from catching viruses. As much as we'd all like, there is NO magic bullet! I also believe that there is such of a thing as Too Much Of A Good Thing! If this really high amount of vitamins has worked for you and your kids then that is awesome but for myself and my children, no thanks, I would rather suffer a cold for a week than have burning nausea and diarrhea! Also, the facial flushing he mentioned is a sign of vitamin c overdose! But best wishes to everyone with sick kids because I can definately relate. To the scientist, keep working on that Magic Bullet and keep us all posted!

At 9:45 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for stopping by and letting us know how you feel.

I agree with you that it is possible to get too much of a good thing. The doses I recommend are conservative. The FDA'd upper recommended dosage for vitamin C is 2000 mg. I am recommending sticking with this dose - no more than 2000 mg at a time. Vitamin C is flushed rapidly from the body. It is completely safe to take it twice a day - once at breakfast and once after dinner or at bedtime. The only vitamin I'm recommending above the FDA's safe limits is niacin at 125 mg/day vs. 35 mg/day for the UL. Once a child is back in good health, I recommend two 125 mg time release niacin tablets per week - just below the FDA's UL.

Before you conclude that this regimen isn't a magic bullet, you should give it a try. My daughter would disagree with you. She and her friends are stopping colds in their tracks regularly.

At 9:47 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks for stopping by. If your child is eating alot of sushi and other fish, you need to be concerned about mercury. Have his hair tested.

Your son's condition is common and is often resolved using the simple supplement formula I recommend: vitamin C, vitamin D (from the sun), niacin, and thiamine. Please give it a try. Your son has much to gain and little to lose.

At 5:41 PM, Blogger Loranne said...

I have heard that large dosages of Vitamin C can cause diarrhea, should the dosage recommended of Vitamin C be given gradually until they reach the dosage you recommend? Also any suggestions for a toddler who won't take the tablets I give her? I have tried mixing it in food and she spits it out!

At 9:57 PM, Anonymous Michelle said...


Thanks for this post. Quick question - do you know of supplements that are easily mixed with puree'd food - both for the C and the naicin? My son only eats puree's, and I'm interested in testing out this C and niacin possibility for helping with the paleness and dark circles under his eyes. It seems to come and go for Nathan. I'm guessing that maybe it comes when he's a bit under the weather but not enough for any doctor to take notice (ugh).



At 2:53 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Michelle and Loranne,

Time release niacin is sold as gelcaps filled with tiny spheres. It is easy to break these open and add them to soft foods. Not surprisingly, soft foods like ice cream and pudding work best. If your children will take it added to healthier soft foods, so much the better.

If your toddler doesn't like the taste of citrus-flavored chewable vitamin C tablets, I'm not sure what to say. The required dosage of several thousand milligrams is large and not easily masked.

Are there really toddlers out there who won't drink any kind of fruit juice? If they will, they almost always can learn to like the chewable orange-flavored tablets. If not, and they will drink some kind of fruit juice, vitamin C powder can be added to any fruit juice without changing the flavor very much.

If these suggestions don't work, please let me know and I'll work with you to figure something out. I like to cook and I'm sure that together we can come up with something.

At 5:19 PM, Blogger Jen said...

what are your creditials? how did you come to this conclusion?

At 2:37 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks so much for writing.

Thanks for your question. I am a doctor. I got both my undergraduate and graduate education at Yale. I'm not an M.D. - I'm a Ph.D. in chemistry. I work as a research scientist at a major corporation. For my company, I spend alot of time studying how process equipment that produces petrochemicals breaks down with time. We literally call this aging. I know better than most physicians how small deficiencies maintained over time can accelerate aging processes.

More importantly, I am not as healthy as I would like. I have poor resistance to the common cold. Since my children entered daycare in 1993, I have been sick frequently. There is no pharmaceutical cure to the common cold so I had to look elsewhere. I believe if I had not looked elsewhere, I'd be dead just like Jim Henson. I'm not saying that to be dramatic. I'm saying it because few people realize that the common cold can literally be deadly to the tiny fraction of the population with poor immunity to the common cold. I knew that vitamins had known anti-viral properties so I started to use them while researching them. I have access to the best scientific literature search engines money can buy and have learned how to make the most of them.

Between reading (I have read the abstracts - these are the results summaries - from thousands of papers) and my clinical practice with vitamins based on my reading I have learned alot. In fact, I believe I have made a breakthrough and found a simple vitamin formula that will prevent cavities and anorexia (and therefore dramatically reduce cancer, heart disease, sleep disorders, mood disorders, and obesity). This formula is basically what I'm recommending for the children in this column. I recognize that this is too good to be true. Sometimes, however, too good to be true things are indeed true. I hope this is one of them.

Despite my excellent credentials, I'm hoping they aren't necessary for you to make the decision to give your children supplements. I'm recommending doses that are declared safe by the medical establishment. The Food and Nutrition Board changes doses with age one or more times before the age of 10 and my doses are probably higher than the lowest UL's. (the upper safe limits or UL's) If you're concerned, use lower doses. There is almost nothing to lose, and much to gain, by giving the vitamins a try.

Please don't hesitate to ask for further clarification. Please read any of my recent columns on preventing cavities.

At 3:36 PM, Blogger Steve said...


I forgot an important credential. I've been researching vitamins for over 15 years. When I got started, my children were 1.5 and 3.5. Despite far less knowledge, I raised my kids on vitamins. They are now 16 and 18 and in excellent health. I am one of very few professionals to have supplemented their own children at the doses they recommend for others. In fact, I supplemented my children at higher doses. The lower doses I recommend now will reduce incidents of side effects to those expected by the Food and Nutrition Board. Again, what I recommend is safe and effective. I don't just recommend this to others, but acted on my own children - my most precious asset. I am also grateful that my children believe that the vitamins benefited them and plan to supplement their own children.

At 5:05 PM, Blogger Marian said...

This is an interesting thread. I would like to point out that there are conditions that cause paleness and also prevent one from being able to absorb vitamins. Food allergies as mentioned many times, but also something like celiac disease. These should be ruled out or addressed before ading supplements to your child's diet. Lastly, MANY children are allergic to niacin - be careful!

At 7:56 AM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks for your comment. I agree with your observations. I would add that many cases of allergy and celiac disease are caused by deficiency of the vitamins I recommend -vitamin C, vitamin D, niacin, and thiamine. So - by this logic the vitamins cure the allergy/intestinal disease which cures the pale face and dark circles. This a more complex version of the simpler assertion that vitamins can cure pale faces and dark circles under the eyes.

No one is allergic to niacin. Niacin is an essential nutrient. Straight release niacin reliably causes a flushing response which is easily confused with an allergic response. So - Marian is wisely warning parents to watch out for the niaciin's flushing side effect. I found that my children didn't mind (don't mind) minor flushing once they know what causes it and that it will go away quickly. None the less, I strongly recommend time release niacin which reduces the frequency of flushing to near zero. Flushing and other niacin side effects are a strong function of dose. I've picked a dose that minimizes flushing.

Pale faces, dark circles under the eyes, allergies, and celiac's disease are serious problems that interfere with healthy growth and development. Flushing and other vitamin side effects, if anything, improve the growth and development process. The discomfort from typical side effects is no more than a minor nuisance. If your child has a pale face and/or dark circles under the eyes, there is much to gain and as close as possible to nothing to lose by giving the vitamins at the recommended doses a try.

At 10:02 PM, Blogger chris said...

You describe the physical appearence of my daughter. It has been driving me crazy that she looks pale w/ dark circles under her eyes for years.She has been tested for allergies,anemia,ect.& nothing has come up abnormal.I want to try your solution,but she is 8 years old. What would the dosage be?

At 6:43 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks for stopping by. Provide your 8 year old with exactly the doses in the column above. Here is the text again:

My recommended cure uses sunshine and three supplements that are inexpensive and easy to find. Sunshine is essential for good health. Vitamin D, one of only four vitamins that prevent named deficiency diseases, is manufactured by skin exposed to sunshine. Sunblock should only be used after your child has been exposed to 30 minutes of bright sunshine. The three supplements are 500 mg chewable vitamin C tablets, children’s chewable multivitamins, and 250 mg time-release niacin gel caps. If you have a child with a pale face and dark circles under the eyes, feed him or her 6 of the vitamin C tablets, one multivitamin, and 1/2 of one 250 mg time-release niacin gel cap. Follow up with 4 more vitamin C tablets before bedtime. Many children are happy to take one kid’s chewable multivitamin and lots of chewable vitamin C. These taste good. The half niacin gel cap is the only child-unfriendly ingredient. Fortunately, niacin has a mild flavor. The gel cap is filled with tiny spheres. Break the gel cap in two and add half of the spheres to ice cream or pudding, or some other soft, sweet, child-friendly food. The niacin may cause the toddler to flush – a temporary reddening of the skin. Although the flushing can be unpleasant, it is harmless. Further, flushing is unusual with time-release niacin gel caps at such a low dosage. Keep going with 125 mg/day of time release niacin and the vitamin C, 4 chewable tablets every morning and every bedtime until the dark circles are gone and are replaced by rosy cheeks. Sunshine, 4 chewable vitamin C tablets and a multivitamin should be obtained every day, even when healthy.

Don't hesitate to ask further questions. Good luck with your eight year old.


At 6:30 AM, Anonymous Ameara said...

thanks for your post. i liked so much. i would like to ask you about the dose that i can give to my daughter who is 18 months now but she was born premature(25 weeker). i would be very happy if you would help me with that. because my baby's face is very pale and i want to make something about it.


At 9:23 PM, Blogger Steve said...


The doses I recommend are independent of age and weight. The younger children are growing faster and tolerate higher doses without side effects. Here's the text from a more recent post on this topic:

I recommend three supplements that are inexpensive and easy to find. These are 500 mg chewable vitamin C tablets, children’s chewable multivitamins, and 250 mg time-release niacin gel caps or tablets. If you have a toddler with a pale face and dark circles under the eyes, feed him or her 6 of the vitamin C tablets, one multivitamin, and 1/2 of one 250 mg time-release niacin gel cap or tablet. Follow up with 4 more vitamin C tablets before bedtime. Many toddlers are happy to take one kid’s chewable multivitamin and lots of chewable vitamin C. These taste good. The half niacin gel cap or tablet is the only toddler-unfriendly ingredient. Fortunately, niacin has a mild flavor. Add half the contents of the gel cap (or a half tablet crushed into chunks) to ice cream or pudding, or some other soft, toddler-friendly food. The niacin may cause the toddler to flush – a temporary reddening of the skin. Although the flushing can be unpleasant, it is harmless. Further, flushing is unusual with time-release niacin gel caps at such a low dosage. Keep going with 125 mg/day of time release niacin and the vitamin C, 4 chewable tablets every morning and every bedtime until the dark circles are gone and are replaced by rosy cheeks. 4 chewable vitamin C tablets and a multivitamin should be taken every day, even when healthy. I recommend 1/2 of one 250 mg time-release niacin supplement once or twice per week for healthy kids. The final important vitamin is vitamin D. Your 18 month old daughter should get regular sunshine in minimal clothing during the months when it is comfortable to be outside. Sunscreen blocks vitamin D formation and should not be used until after the baby has been exposed to 10 to 30 minutes of sun.

If you have more questions, don't hesitate to ask.


At 11:28 AM, Anonymous Rachel said...

I agree with the cynics on here. There are plenty of other plausible medical explanations for dark circles under the eyes. While the original poster's blog article has some merits, it is hardly a big bundle of undiscovered absolute truth. I agree with many others that the tone in which it is written is accusatory and judgmental and it detracts from the valid points within. I nearly laughed myself out of my desk chair when I saw someone managed to get a nod to breastfeeding in the stream of comments.

Your child with dark circles under the eyes may be something serious or something minor. Allergies can be outgrown, more rest can be added, diet changes can be tried before jumping to any conclusions or taking any one person's advice, whether they be an M.D. or a Ph.D. or an ANYTHING.D.

The best thing you can do as parent is to use your common sense, and seek out the advice of multiple "gurus" on the subject, but not to put all your eggs in one basket.

We are too quick to seek medical help in general. While cosmetically the dark circles under your child's eyes are frustrating, they are not necessarily indicative of some serious underlying problem, or allergy, or immunodeficiency.

My son is fair and has dark circles. He like most toddlers doesn't eat the greatest. He does take a multivitamin, which is healthy. But wasting money on extra supplementation is silly. The basic chemistry is there, but the body does a poor job absorbing these supplements.

Your best bet is to get these extra vitamins in your children in ways they can absorb. This can be difficult depending on what your child is willing to eat.

Mandarin oranges and citrus fruits in general are a great way to get extra C. Fish and Potatoes are great sources of niacin. Google around for more. There is probably something your kid will eat that can help improve the amount of ABSORBABLE nutrients they get. When someone takes vitamins, whatever isn't absorbed gets filtered by the kidneys. The French actually make fun of Americans for taking so many supplements. We are known as a country for having "the most expensive urine."

Allergies should be checked, but I hesitate to put small children on long term allergy medication while they are still developing. If it is not absolutely necessary, there is a chance your child will just outgrow the allergy on their own.

I definitely agree with the original poster that children do not get outside enough. Sunlight is both physically and mentally healthy for adults and children and something modern society doesn't bask in for a duration that helps us process out vitamin D correctly.

To those of you reading this article, it is good you are online seeking info to assess the state of your child. Keep your grains of salt handy, though, and consult some real life practitioners of whatever variety of medicine floats your boat. Just talk to more than one. Second opinions are great in any venue.

If your child's dark circles don't go away despite your efforts, remember that it may just be the way they are going to look for now, and they might be more amenable to dietary and lifestyle changes to correct them when they are old enough to be concerned about their appearance themselves.

At 8:41 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Rachel,

Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

I apologize for your accurate observation that my original post indeed sounds accusatory and judgemental.

Well - Rachel - here we are at an impasse. You admit that your own son has dark circles and you are sufficiently unconcerned that you refuse to try a safe, convenient, and inexpensive potential remedy. Why is that? I don't want your thoughts about the vitamin doses I recommend. I want you to try them. If they don't help, write me and tell me they didn't work. I'll respect that. When I hear from enough parents that the extra vitamins didn't help, I know that I'm wrong and they don't help and I'll be the first to admit it.

Instead of trying my advice, you write the following:

"But wasting money on extra supplementation is silly. The basic chemistry is there, but the body does a poor job absorbing these supplements."

Extra supplementation is not a waste of money because it costs almost nothing - just a few pennies a day. Cost simply is not an issue. Your comment about absorption is also plain wrong. Vitamin D - freely obtained from the sun - is strongly retained. In fact it is troublesome to remove it from the body and as a result side effects from vitamin D overdoses can take weeks to subside. Vitamin C and niacin are readily absorbed. Although they are also readily excreted, when taken in the doses I recommend, the steady state concentration of vitamin C and niacin in the body is well above what is achieved with and ordinary diet.

What I have to say is either the truth or it isn't. The merits of my assertions will be tested with data, not opinions. Parents will be persuaded to try the combination of vitamins I recommend and they will be happy with the results or they won't.

I'm not recommending one basket - I'm recommending a combination of four baskets. These are sunshine (for the vitamin D), vitamin C, niacin, and a multivitamin. There is already a consensus that parents must see to it that their children get regular doses of vitamins. Without vitamins, children develop deficiency diseases. I'm saying that parents must do more than just pay attention to the food their children eat. They must also train them to get plenty of sunshine and provide them with vitamin C, niacin, and multivitamin supplements.

You and I arguing changes nothing.


At 4:34 PM, Blogger Ana said...

As a first-time parent, I appreciate all the advice I can get, especially when my observations of my kid are taken lightly by doctors and pharmacists. I have a 15 month old daughter who has had circles under her eyes for about four months now. I have ruled out allergies, sinus issues, sleep deficency, as well as poor dieting (I steam cook all her meals and pay extra as one person wrote for her fresh eggs with hard shells - though those are getting harder to find, no pun intended). And yes, I agree that kids should play outside more, spend more quality time with parents, etc.... So, my glowing, beautiful healthy daughter started showing dark circles and I kept hearing it was not serious and not to worry, to keep observing. This cannot be more frustrating. What, exactly, should I keep looking for? I am sick of the approach used to treat illnesses instead of caring for health. We have to wait until our health is so bad that it can then be treated. More attention needs to be placed on prevention and actually caring for our health, instead of waiting for it to dwindle. Of course you need second opinions and to inform yourself as much as possible, but I wanted to thank Steve for at least providing an alternative. We can all research to assess if indeed these vitamins are safe at these dosages. I do not want to wait around for my daughter's circles to get worse and for her body to find another way to tell me there is something wrong. As a side note to the needed exposure to vitamin D: I have read that for the winter months, giving a young child cod liver oil is a great way for the body to absorb it, as not only is the oil very rich in Vitamin D, but also in Vitamin A, which helps the body naturally absorb Vitamin D. My source:

At 8:30 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks so much!

In case it wasn't already evident from my previous comment, I've been in need of supporting words like yours.

Thanks also for directly addressing the issue of safety. Vitamin C and niacin can cause discomfort - even extreme discomfort, but they are not known to do any real harm no matter how badly abused. When niacin is sufficiently abused it causes the most horrible nausea and vomiting imaginable putting an end to any reasonable possibility of further abuse. Vitamin C, when abused, causes terrible abdominal cramping and worse again putting an end to any reasonable possibility of further abuse. Even from abuse, complete recovery is typically achieved within two days at most.

Vitamin D is a different story. I don't recommend supplements - not even cod liver oil - because the sun is 100% safe and the supplements are not. Generations of kids have been brought up on cod liver oil without this supplement gaining much of a reputation for toxicity. So, I think it's sensible. I use vitamin D supplements myself and I manage the side effects.

I wrote blog columns dedicated specifically to vitamin D and niacin side effects. I highly recommend the vitamin D side effects column.

The vitamins I recommend can cause a bewildering variety of side effects that can be difficult to recognize. If you have any concerns that vitamin supplements are causing your daughter discomfort, please come back to the blog and ask questions. I'm as obsessive about vitamin side effects as I am about vitamin benefits.

Thanks again for your support,


At 5:21 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for venting. More venting is needed.

It is remarkable that doctors are not trained about the safety and effectiveness of vitamins and therefore are not able to help the many struggling children in the world. You son is not alone by any means. I'm sorry that the best society can do today is fringe bloggers on the internet.

The good news is that I'm as mainstream as it gets. Exeter Academy, then Yale University for both a B.S. and Ph.D. in Chemistry. I work in corporate research for a major company and have been working in the lab doing experiments my entire career. I know how to find what works and what doesn't using science.

I hope you are taking action and trying sunshine, vitamin C, thiamine, and niacin at the recommended doses. A multivitamin will not get the job done. If you can't get your child out into the sunshine enough with minimal clothing, come on back and we'll discuss how to use vitamin D supplements as safely as possible.

Please don't hesitate to come back and ask any questions you like.


At 3:29 AM, Anonymous Bianca naturally said...

I found this blog post very interesting and I hope to see from the responses whether it does work. Hopefully it does

At 11:23 AM, Blogger Brandee said...

Hi Steve.
Thank you for the informaion and confidence you shared on this blog you posted a few years ago. I just came accross it now in my seach for answers on my 6 years olds pale face, dark eye, and linked behavior trouble. I am certainly intrigued by your insight because all of her syptoms in this area did get worse a about 6 or 7 months ago which would be around the same time I took her off of her regualr Vitamin C supliments. My reason for taking her off was that even one chewable of 500mg would give her terrible diarreha. After having her off for a few months I tried giving it to her again just because I belive there are a lot of bennefits to it. However the Diarreha retured with it. So my question for you is: Do you have any suggestions or knowldeget that might help me impliment the regime you suggest without causing her intestinal upset?
Looking forward to your input

At 6:32 AM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks for writing.

I want to stress that the vitamins I recommend work together. Results are typically achieved slowly over the course of months. Immediate, dramatic responses happen but are rare and mistrusted - even by scientists.

Second, I want to stress that intestinal problems in kids are serious. The intestinal tract plays an important role in regulating vitamin intakes and also provides a first line of defense against overdose (the intestines frequently get sick first). So - you need to proceed both with caution and with urgency.

One of the four special vitamins is not meant to be eaten. This is vitamin D. It is a no-brainer to get your daughter into the noontime sun in a bikini bathing suit. The objective is to achieve a slight, even tan over much of her body. Just 10 minutes a day - 5 minutes on each side - is enough in the noon time sun for most light-skinned children. I say this to point out that even children can focus for 10 minutes without having their whole day ruined - this is not impractical. If you are dark skinned, the bad news is that you have to stay out longer. The good news is that you don't have to worry so much about sunburn. I can't overemphasize the importance of each of these four vitamins. Vitamin D is the only one that can be delivered in optimal doses with no risk. Just get in the sun. There are no side effect risks from vitamin D from the sun.

Vitamin C is sold in a form well tolerated by the intestines. It is called Ester-C. See if your daughter can take 2000 mg/day of vitamin C as Ester-C. I noticed recently that Costco has started selling this form of the vitamin - a sign that your daughter is in good company. When your daughter is back in robust health, she may regain a normal bowel tolerance for vitamin C. If she does, I recommend switching back to regular vitamin C tablets just because I'm a safety fanatic, and I also like the feedback from vitamin C. When I'm not feeling well I usually take extra vitamin C. My intestines quietly and politely tell me exactly how much is just right. When I'm sick this amount is often alot more. When I'm attacked by a serious cold once every couple of years I'll often take as much as 20,000 mg vitamin C in a day instead of my normal 2000 to 4000.

Please try the time release niacin as recommend (half of a 250 mg time release niacin every day, or a whole 250 mg time release niacin 2 or 3 times per week).

Finally, don't forget the multivitamin.

At 6:36 AM, Blogger Steve said...


I also wanted you to know that one of the really awesome things about these blog posts is that they are ever-green. As I learn and get feedback from colleagues and readers, I adjust my advice to make sure it stays the best it can be.

Nothing will change the fact that vitamins above the RDA are needed for optimal growth and development of children. The details of how to go about this safely and with minimal fuss on the part of the children change with experience. I'm rewriting parts of this column at least once per year - so keep it bookmarked.



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