• Original Articles By Dr. Lavin Featuring Expert Advice & Information about Pediatric Health Issues that you Care the Most About

    Vitamins: Turns out we could be harming our children with an excess

    The chemical structure of niacin.
    The chemical structure of niacin. 

    Vitamins and Minerals:  We are overdosing our children

    A recent report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) establishes that American children are not deficient in vitamins and minerals, they are actually overdosed on them, and it could hurt some children.

    The EWG is a non-profit organization that has long been devoted to helping prevent harm coming to children in the food chain.
    In this report, information from reliable surveys offers us a new look at how many children are exposed to overdosages of particular vitamins and minerals.
    Here are the data for children of ages 2-8 years old in the United States:
    Vitamin A- 13 % of children are fed too much- 10 million 2-8 year olds a year
    Niacin (Vitamin B3)- 8% of children are fed too much- 5 million 2-8 year olds a year
    Zinc- 42% of children are fed too much- 15 million 2-8 year olds a year

    These are rates of overdosage from food, not vitamin pills.  The main source of overdosage comes from highly fortified cereals, crackers, and breads.
    If you look at the chance of  your child being overdosed on these three items, if you also give a vitamin pill, the numbers jump to:
    Vitamin A- 72%
    Niacin- 28%
    Zinc- 50-80%

    Now, why should this matter?
    It turns out that each of these compounds, when taken in excess, can cause real harm to children.
    Excess Vitamin A and niacin can cause liver damage, and excess zinc can cause harm to the immune system.
    We have reported earlier that there is no benefit to giving children vitamin supplements, except in the special and rare situation where the child has a true vitamin deficiency due to a condition, such as an abnormal gut that cannot absorb vitamins.
    Now come these data, establishing that even without vitamin pills, a great number of our children are getting overfed vitamins and minerals, and that this excess could cause harm.
    Our recommendation is to not give children vitamin supplements and to be reasonable in what crackers, breads, and cereals are used, leaning towards ones that are not so heavily fortified.
    Bottom Lines:
    1.  Our children get plenty of vitamins and minerals, the only exception being calcium.    
    2.  But in the case of Vitamin A, niacin, and zinc, many of our children are fed too much, even without vitamin pills.
    3.  We recommend that you do not give your children vitamin supplements or pills.
    4.  We recommend that the cereals, breads, and crackers you give not be too heavily fortified with vitamins.
    5.  It is still a good idea to be sure your children get enough calcium, and for girls once they start having a period, folic acid.
    Dr. Arthur Lavin

    *Disclaimer* The comments contained in this electronic source of information do not constitute and are not designed to imply that they constitute any form of individual medical advice. The information provided is purely for informational purposes only and not relevant to any person’s particular medical condition or situation. If you have any medical concerns about yourself or your family please contact your physician immediately. In order to provide our patients the best uninfluenced information that science has to offer,we do not accept samples of drugs, advertising tchotchkes, money, food, or any item from outside vendors.

    One Response to Vitamins: Turns out we could be harming our children with an excess

    1. Bryan McGowan June 26, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

      Any insight as to why Vitamin D and iron supplements are so widely recommended to infants? I exclusively breastfed my two kids and never supplemented, but I am definitely in the minority of moms that I talk to.

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