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Baby Nutrition Study finds One-third of Kids Take Vitamins

Posted Feb 13 2009 4:53pm
By Colleen Hurley, RD, Certified Kids Nutrition Specialist A walk through the supplement department of any health food store or pharmacy can be a bit overwhelming. While the majority of the vitamins we need come from the foods we eat, over the past year doctors and health experts alike have suggested supplementing certain nutrients that vulnerable populations like expecting women and children might not get enough of from diet alone like vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids. Utilizing a survey of parents of nearly 11,000 children aged 2-17; a new study found that approximately one-third of US children are taking vitamins. The study, conducted from 1999-2004, attempted to answer a question pediatricians often hear: Does my child need to take vitamins? Although the amount of children taking vitamins may seem high, it has decreased since the 1970s when almost 50% of American children took vitamins. Ironically, as the study points out, the children who are taking vitamins or supplements are healthy active kids who probably dont need them. Conversely, picky eaters or those with limited food intake that would benefit the most from a multivitamin do not take them. The study authors explain that giving a child the recommended dosage of an age appropriate vitamin is probably not harmful just not truly necessary for a child with a well-balanced diet including one with adequate fiber and lower in saturated fat and cholesterol. Published in the February issue of the Journal of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the study found that vitamin/mineral use was highest for 2-4 year olds and lowest for adolescents aged 12-17. It is a common misconception that a multivitamin can make up for a nutrient deficient diet, and experts agree this is not the case. The best way to get vitamins is from food directly like fresh fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains. Many pediatricians, however, concur the increased daily requirements of certain nutrients can be difficult to obtain from diet alone as in the case of vitamin D. While the majority of the children taking vitamins in the study were the healthiest, researchers are at a loss as to whether the vitamins were the source of the improved health or if they take vitamins because they are part of a health conscious family.
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