ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Acupuncture Eases Side Effects of Head, Neck Cancer Treatments
Music Therapy For Prehistoric Man?
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Varicose, Spider Veins May Be Inevitable for Some
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
CANCER
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Exercise Cuts Lung Cancer Risk in Ex-Smokers by 45%
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
CAREGIVING
Children's Bath Products Contain Contaminants
Early Exercise Boosts Outcomes for ICU Patients
TV Watching Doesn't Fast-Track Baby's Skills
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
DIABETES
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Polyunsaturated Fats Really May Lower Heart Risk
Coffee Drinking Lowers Women's Stroke Risk
Mediterranean Diet Helps Protect Aging Brain
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Restaurant Sushi May Have More Mercury Than Store-Bought Fare
1976 Italian Dioxin Release Damaged Babies' Thyroids
Smog Tougher on the Obese
EYE CARE, VISION
Glaucoma Associated With Reading Impairments in Elderly
Eye Disease, Cognitive Decline Linked in Study
Ordinary Chores Cause Half of All Eye Injuries
FITNESS
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Diet, Exercise May Slow Kidney Disease Progression
Vigorous Exercise Can Cut Breast Cancer Risk
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
U.S. Prepares for Possible Return of Swine Flu in Fall
Time to Remind Teens About Sun Protection
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Stomach Germ May Protect Against Asthma
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Countdown to Hair Loss
MENTAL HEALTH
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
A Simple 'Thank You' Brings Rewards to All
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
SENIORS
Laughter Can Stimulate a Dull Appetite
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
Rapid Weight Loss in Seniors Signals Higher Dementia Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Natural Therapies for Menopause
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Many Kids Don't Need the Vitamins They're Taking

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

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.

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."

The authors reviewed data on vitamin and mineral supplementation as well as diet, exercise and health insurance factors on almost 11,000 children and adolescents aged 2 to 17 from the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

About a third (34 percent) of young people had used vitamin and mineral supplements in the month before being interviewed.

As expected, underweight children used vitamins and minerals the most.

Surprisingly, however, these supplements were more likely to be consumed by children who did not need them as much, i.e. white children from families with higher incomes, more food security and, overall, better nutrition and physical activity levels. Thirty-seven percent of these children (who were also less likely to be obese) took vitamins, compared to 28 percent of those in less privileged situations.

Cost seems to be the biggest obstacle to lower-income households adding supplements to their children's diet, the team found.

"One of the things that we thought was responsible for this was the possibility that income and parental education status might override other factors," Shaikh said.

And, indeed, the data showed that 22 percent of children in households below the federal poverty line used vitamins, compared with 43 percent in households above the poverty line.

Thirty-eight percent of children in households without food stamps used vitamins, compared with 18 percent of youngsters in households that did use food stamps.

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 center has been lobbying to get vitamins and mineral supplementation covered by the food stamp program and WIC (Women Infants Children), Duffy said.

An outside expert added another thought to the process.

"The problem is people who can afford vitamin supplements can also afford a lot of different varieties of food -- not that I think people on limited budgets can't afford to eat healthy," said Kris Rudolph, a pediatric dietitian at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. "But . . . you definitely need to sit down and think about it, and you have to have somebody who's helpful."

Low-income families can get vitamins on prescription if they have documented deficiencies, but that documentation is also hard to come by, Rudolph added.

On the other hand, Rudolph noted, a 50-cent can of canned fruit or a bag of frozen vegetables can provide good nutrition.

More information

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has more on vitamins and minerals.



SOURCES: Ulfat Shaikh, M.D., assistant professor, pediatrics, University of California Davis School of Medicine and pediatrician, UC Davis Children's Hospital; Duffy MacKay, vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, Center for Responsible Nutrition, Washington, D.C.; Kris Rudolph, R.D., L.D., pediatric nutritionist, Cincinnati Children's Hospital; February 2009 Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine

Last Updated: Feb. 02, 2009

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