New report on kids and vitamin supplements

October 12, 2011 1:55:40 PM PDT
New studies are revealing that taking vitamin supplements is not always beneficial and potentially dangerous. But many of us feed them to our children. Is that risky?

"Supplemental vitamins are expensive and probably unnecessary for the healthy child older than 1 year who consumes a varied diet," according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The problem is, many children do not consume a healthy and varied diet. Many families don't have the time or the means to cook fresh and varied foods, and many children wouldn't eat them anyway.

Although there's no general agreement, many pediatricians do recommend a multivitamin for children over age one particularly for picky eaters in order to prevent deficiencies, particularly in vitamin D.

"If a child has a good diet, they probably don't need a vitamin," said Dr. Deb Lonzer of the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital. "But now it turns out, particularly for things like vitamin D, many of us are vitamin D deficient, especially if you live up north, especially if you use sunscreen like we tell you to, you're going to be vitamin D deficient."

Certain groups are more likely to need a vitamin supplement to make up for lacking vitamin D intake. Babies who breast feed are also supplemented with vitamin D drops as there is none of that nutrient in breast milk.

Adolescent girls are sometimes prescribed supplements to make sure they get adquate amounts of folate, vitamin D and iron.

So before you run to get your child a multivitamin,consult with your doctor as megadoses of some vitamins can be toxic. Also remember sodas are an anti-vitamin. they leech nutrients from the body so make sure to remove them from your child's diet.

"We don't really look for other vitamin deficiencies, but if you have a kid who is a little run-down, is a picky eater, who gets more colds than the average bear, you ought to probably go ahead and start a multivitamin," Lonzer said.