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Children & Vitamins

March 4, 2008, 4:18 PM by Jaine Andrews

Children & Vitamins
Some parents spend a lot of money on vitamins, trying to make sure their children get the nutrients they need. But one expert says that may not be necessary. 

According to a study in the medical journal, Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, one third of children in the United States take vitamin and mineral dietary supplements. The most commonly used supplements are multivitamins which are taken by 18 percent of kids. Another four percent of children take a single vitamin supplement, such as Vitamin C. Two percent of children take single mineral supplement such as iron and just under one percent use botanical or herbal supplements such as echinacea. And while those numbers may be lower than you'd expect, experts are quick to add that a dietary supplement can't make up for a bad diet. 

It's a morning ritual for some parents: doling out daily vitamins. 

Mother of four, Mary Beth Toole, says it makes her feel better knowing her kids are getting a nutritional supplement. 

She says, "Unfortunately, I cannot ensure that they will have a balanced meal every day and for every mealtime, and that just gives me peace of mind." 

But pediatrician Jennifer Shu claims most kids don't need them. Even the pickiest eaters, she says should get enough nutrition from the basic food groups. 

Shu says, "The bottom line is that children don't need vitamin supplements. They're going to get the vitamins they need in a good, regular balanced diet." 

But she doesn't fault parents for trying. 

Shu says, "If you want to give your child a daily vitamin there is likely to be no harm in doing so. Just make sure you follow the directions exactly." 

That means just one vitamin a day. And remember, vitamins are medicine and should never be referred to as "candy." 

That said, other experts say there are certain nutrients that cannot reliably be provided by a child's average daily diet. Those are vitamin D, which is recommended for infants who are breast fed and calcium, which is important for strong bones as children grow.

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