ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
Acupuncture Eases Side Effects of Head, Neck Cancer Treatments
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
For All Their Plusses, Pets Pose a Risk for Falls, Too
Tequila Plant May Help Fight Bone Loss
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
CANCER
Scams and Shams That Prey on Cancer Patients
Selenium, Omega-3s May Stave Off Colorectal Cancer
Red Meat No No No But Oily Fish Yes Yes Yes
CAREGIVING
Timing May Matter in Organ Donation Decisions
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
Organ Donation Policies Vary Among Children's Hospitals
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
COSMETIC
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
DIABETES
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
24 Million Americans Had Diabetes in 2007
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
DIET, NUTRITION
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
TV Food Ads Promote Bad Diets
Asparagus May Ease Hangover
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Sunken, Unexploded Bombs Pose Cancer Risk
Stomach Germ May Protect Against Asthma
Hypertension May Hit Black Males Earlier
EYE CARE, VISION
Sports Eye Injuries Leading Cause of Blindness in Youths
Glaucoma Treatment Can Prevent Blindness
Eye Disease, Cognitive Decline Linked in Study
FITNESS
MRSA Infections Can Bug Fitness Buffs
Fliers Can Keep Blood Clots at Bay
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
A Little Chocolate May Do the Heart Good
Polyunsaturated Fats Really May Lower Heart Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Even Young Kids Can Learn CPR
Winter's Bitter Cold Poses Health Dangers
Decline of Underweight Children in U.S. Continue to Fall
MEN'S HEALTH
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
MENTAL HEALTH
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
SENIORS
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
Nighttime Urination Linked to Higher Death Rate Among Elderly
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
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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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