Fiber is an essential component of the diet. It promotes gut health by improving satiety from food and affecting the easy passage of stools. Additionally, it benefits the heart by lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL or bad cholesterol) levels, reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by lowering glucose levels, and helps in body weight control (1).
Metamucil is a dietary fiber supplement containing 100% natural psyllium husk, which comes from the psyllium plant (2). It is available over the counter (OTC) for relief from occasional constipation (3). This post talks about the safe use of Metamucil for kids, its side effects, and precautions.
Can Children Take Metamucil?
Yes, Metamucil is available OTC for both adults and children as fiber therapy for bowel regularity in constipation, which is two or fewer episodes of motion per week with the passing of hard stools with pain or straining (3).
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should have a fiber intake in the range equivalent to a child’s age plus five grams per day to a child’s age plus ten grams per day. Lesser amounts of fiber may cause constipation in children (4). The psyllium in Metamucil is a bulk-forming laxative that helps in bowel movement. It helps stool hold water, making it softer and easier to pass (5).
Who Should Not Take Metamucil?
Metamucil may be used as a fiber supplement for most children. Nevertheless, you should talk to a doctor before administering psyllium-containing preparations for your child. Your child may need to avoid it in the following cases (6).
- Your child has food or drug allergies.
- The product contains phenylalanine. Therefore, it may not be suitable for children with phenylketonuria (PKU).
What Is The Metamucil Dosage For Children?
Each teaspoonful of Metamucil contains approximately 3.4 grams of fiber (psyllium husk). Other ingredients include aspartame, citric acid, maltodextrin, natural and artificial orange flavor, and color.
You should start with one dose a day with or without food. It usually acts in 12 to 72 hours if given in doses as per the following table (3).
|6-11||Half a teaspoon in 8 ounces (240ml) of liquid up to three times daily|
|12 and older||One rounded teaspoon in 8 ounces (240ml) of liquid up to three times daily|
Consult a doctor if your child is below six years of age or if symptoms persist. You may pick any liquid of your choice, such as cool milk or fruit juice, although water might be an appropriate choice considering Metamucil has some added flavors. Stir and serve it to the child immediately.
Metamucil is also available as capsules, flavored wafers (crunchy fiber snacks), and gummies, containing four to five grams of psyllium per serving as claimed by the product label (7). You may consult a doctor if you wish to serve Metamucil in other forms since the dosage may vary.
What Are The Side Effects Of Metamucil In Children?
Serious adverse effects are rare with Metamucil. Common side effects due to psyllium include (8):
- Stomach pain
- Stomach cramps
- Changes in bowel habits
Talk to a pediatrician if these cause discomfort to your child or do not go away. Immediate medical attention is necessary if symptoms of allergic reactions are seen, such as (6):
- Redness or itching
- Swelling of face, lips, or tongue
- Difficulty in breathing or swallowing
What Precautions To Take When Using Metamucil For Children?
Most children can have Metamucil safely. However, you should consult a doctor before starting Metamucil if your child has symptoms such as (6):
- Rectal bleeding
- Severe stomach pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Fecal impaction (stool stuck in colon or rectum)
- Two weeks or more of a sudden change in bowel habits
- Inform your child’s healthcare provider if your child is on any other medication before starting Metamucil. Psyllium interferes with the absorption of certain drugs taken by mouth, and they should be spaced from psyllium dosage by at least two hours.
- You must also first take the doctor’s opinion if your child is already on any nutritional or herbal supplement.
- Make your child drink lots of water or fluids if not advised otherwise by a doctor. Taking Metamucil (especially the powder forms) without adequate liquids may cause it to swell before reaching the stomach and partially block the food pipe, causing discomfort.
- Make sure your child does not inhale Metamucil powder as it may lead to respiratory discomfort and allergy.
- Metamucil products may contain varying amounts of sodium and potassium (the exact amount will be mentioned on the product label). Consult a healthcare provider if your child has high blood pressure or is on a low sodium diet.
- Discontinue Metamucil use if constipation lasts beyond seven days or rectal bleeding occurs.
- Refer to the product label and package inserts for dosage instruction for different Metamucil products (powder, capsule, wafers, or gummies). You may also seek advice from a general physician.
- Store the powder at room temperature in a tightly-closed container to avoid contact with moisture.
- Keep it out of children’s reach and seek immediate medical attention in case of overdose.
If the food your child takes lacks adequate fiber, it may affect metabolism, digestive health, and regular bowel habits, causing constipation or other chronic disorders. Metamucil is an OTC remedy for constipation, and some products may be used as a dietary supplement to provide your child with the recommended levels of fiber. However, it is always advisable to consult a healthcare provider if symptoms are not resolved within a few days or if you wish to continue giving your child fiber supplements in the long run.
- Joanne Slavin Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits.
- A.F.G. Cicero Metamucil as an additional source of dietary fiber: impact of the quality of healthcare professionals\’ recommendations on users\’ experience.
- Metamucil therapy for regularity- psyllium husk powder.
- Christine L. Williams et al. A New Recommendation for Dietary Fiber in Childhood.
- Fiber Supplements.