February 6, 2009

Vitamins Go to Kids Who Don’t Need Them

Vitamins do a body good, but healthy kids who eat a balanced diet don't really need them.

A new study, however, finds those are exactly the kind of kids who receive these supplements.

Researchers from the University of California Davis Children's Hospital looked at vitamin use, dietary habits, and other factors in more than 10,800 children between the ages of 2 and 17 who were included in a government health survey conducted between 1999 and 2004. Among children considered in excellent health -- those who regularly ate vegetables and drank milk -- about 37 percent were vitamin users. Only about 28 percent of children considered in only fair or poor health received the supplements.

As expected, costs appeared to be a driving factor in determining which kids did and did not take vitamins. Among families not considered poor, 43 percent of children were taking the supplements. That number dropped to 22 percent among those in households falling below the poverty line. Among households using food stamps, just 18 percent of kids were taking vitamins, and in those deemed to suffer from food insecurity and hunger, only 15 percent of children were receiving vitamin supplements.

The researchers note vitamin use is not recommended for healthy children over the age of one. Their next step will be to survey parents about why they choose to give their kids vitamins even when they may not need them.

SOURCE: Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, published online February 2, 2009


On the Net: