ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
Meditation May Boost Short-Term Visual Memory
Indigo Ointment Benefits Psoriasis Patients
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Gene Plays Key Role in Clubfoot
Vitamin K Doesn't Slow Bone Loss
Varicose, Spider Veins May Be Inevitable for Some
CANCER
Family History Key Player in Brain Cancer Risk
Herb May Counter Liver Damage From Chemo
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
CAREGIVING
UV Lights, Fans May Curb TB Spread in Hospitals
Study of Everest Climbers Questions Oxygen Use
Undoing the 'Big Baby' Trend
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
Obesity Linked to Heart Failure Risk
COSMETIC
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
DIABETES
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
The Food Irradiation Story
Caffeine May Offer Some Skin Cancer Protection
Adults Need To Get Thier Food Facts Straight
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Agent Orange Exposure Tied to Prostate Cancer Return
Radiation Exposure Linked to Aggressive Thyroid Cancers
Chemical in Plastics May Cause Fertility Problems
EYE CARE, VISION
Drinking Green Tea May Protect Eyes
Eye Care Checkups Tied to Insurance Status
Glaucoma Associated With Reading Impairments in Elderly
FITNESS
Exercise Keeps the Brain Young
Diet, Exercise May Slow Kidney Disease Progression
Moderate Aerobic Exercise Lowers Diabetics' Liver Fat
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
Hoping for a Happy Family Holiday? Here's How
Want Sun Protection? Wear Red or Blue
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
How Weight Loss Can Help the Heart
Too Much Red Meat May Shorten Life Span
Shedding Light on Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Gene Variation Found in Boys With Delinquent Peers
Protect Your Kids From Swine Flu While at Camp
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
MENTAL HEALTH
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Chocolate a Sweet Pick-Me-Up for the Depressed
How to Attack Holiday Stress Head-On
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
SENIORS
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Most Women With Osteoporosis Unaware of Raised Fracture Risk
Add your Article

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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