September 11, 2015
Are Supplements Really Necessary For Kids?
Many parents want the best nutrition for their kids, particularly when they are rushed from one activity to another. The general consensus is that food, rather than dietary supplements, is the best option for nutrition. According to the Mayo Clinic, dietary supplements such as multivitamins are not necessary, even for picky eaters.1 Many common foods such as cereal, bread, and orange juice are fortified with nutrients, meaning that most kids consume more nutrition than parents realize. In addition to not being entirely necessary, there are quality issues with dietary supplements. There is no US Agency that routinely tests for quality in dietary supplements. In fact, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia recently announced that they will no longer dispense dietary supplements because the quality of safety of any supplements cannot be guaranteed.2 Furthermore, according to data from the National Poison Control, poisoning by dietary supplements has increased by 275% from 2000 to 2010.3Given the questionable benefit, why take the risk? Never assume that a product is safe simply because it is a supplement. There are many examples of products that contain undeclared ingredients including illegal stimulants, steroids, and prescription medications. Tweens and teens might show interest in products designed to assist with muscle building or weight loss, especially if their peers are using them. Any pressure from coaches or team members to use such products should raise alarm bells. Ultimately, the answer to your child’s muscle building or weight loss goals lie in an appropriate nutrition plan rather than supplements. Muscle building, weight loss, and energy products have no place in a growing child’s diet. It is important to inform your child’s pediatrician of any supplements your child is using. Many physicians are familiar with quality problems in dietary supplements and can help prevent interactions with medications your child may be taking. In addition, by recording the use of supplements in your child’s medical record, it may be possible to more quickly identify if any subclinical issues develop over time. If you are going to add a multivitamin or any other dietary supplement to your child’s diet, make sure it has gone through a legitimate third party certification program like the US Pharmacopeia or NSF International. These programs evaluate the quality of manufacturing of products and test products to make sure the label is accurate. Additional information about supplements can be obtained from www.ConsumerLab.com. Should your child be consuming any supplements, take notice of any health issues or unexplained symptoms that arise and report them to your child’s physician. Signs of vitamin toxicity can vary widely depending on the vitamin, but unexplained nausea, diarrhea, stomach upset, fatigue, or hair loss should prompt a visit to the doctor. While it is rare that children are poisoned by multivitamins, it does happen and often the signs are attributed to something else. Recently, a few dozen people were made sick by eating multivitamins that were contaminated with methasterone, an illegal anabolic steroid. The only reason it was discovered was because the same physician happened to treat a number of the individuals, and the physician happened to inquire to his patients about the use of supplements. Most parents should focus on providing their kids a well-balanced diet rather than turning to dietary supplements. Should supplements be considered, there are several steps to take to help keep your kids safe from harm. For additional information, please visit the US Anti-Doping Agency’s www.supplement411.com. http://truesport.org/articles/parents/are-supplements-necessary-for-kids/