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Many Kids Don't Need the Vitamins They're Taking
Date:2/2/2009

But poor children who do need supplements aren't getting them, study shows

MONDAY, Feb. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Many healthy U.S. children and teenagers may be popping vitamins and mineral supplements they don't need, researchers report.

The experts note that vitamin and mineral supplements are not considered necessary when a person eats a varied diet.

On the other hand, children who actually need these supplements -- those with poorer nutrition, less physical activity, and from low-income households -- may not be getting the dosage of vitamins and minerals they require, according to researchers reporting in the February issue of the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine.

For its part, the supplements industry views the findings as a "call to action" to get vitamin and mineral supplements to this underserved population, said Duffy MacKay, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Center for Responsible Nutrition, in Washington, D.C.

The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend supplemental vitamins for most children over the age of 1. The supplements are recommended for children with chronic diseases, eating disorders and certain other conditions.

In fact, supplement overdose or poisoning can be an issue, especially in younger (2-to-4-year-olds) children; overdoses can lead to vomiting, or to more serious problems such as kidney or liver damage.

"We were curious about why certain parents may choose to use over-the-counter multivitamin supplements for children, and some might not," said study author Dr. Ulfat Shaikh, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of California Davis School of Medicine and pediatrician at UC Davis Children's Hospital. "We hypothesized that supplements might be used to reduce adverse effects if parents thought their child wasn't eating right or were wondering where their next meal was coming from."
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