Many children don’t need vitamin supplements

By Tom Nordlie • Published: May 14th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Children’s vitamins sound like a great idea, right?

If the little ones eat more cookies than kale, supplements can ensure they get the micronutrients they need.

But according to one study, the children who typically take vitamins are least likely to need them.

What’s worse, some kids who need supplements aren’t getting them.

Writing in the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, researchers presented data from a nationally representative study of almost eleven-thousand children ages two to seventeen.

Overall, thirty-four percent had taken vitamins during the previous month.

The researchers expected most users to be underweight, inactive, eating unhealthy food and getting less access to health care.

It turned out those assumptions were wrong, except one… underweight children were indeed more likely to take supplements.

Otherwise, the typical vitamin user was active, well-nourished, and came from a home where a full pantry and regular doctors’ visits were the norm.

So, it seems pediatricians might have some extra work to do.

First, they should ask parents from low-income households if their children eat regularly and get well-balanced meals. That’s especially important if the child is obese or otherwise in poor health.

Second, they should counsel parents of healthy kids that vitamins probably aren’t needed.

Incidentally, the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend supplements for healthy children over age one.

So if your child is getting a reasonably good diet, you might want to save a few dollars and forego the vitamins.

You can always spend that money on more kale.