Are U.S. kids consuming too many vitamins?
The addition of vitamins and minerals to everyday foods, particularly breakfast cereals, was meant to boost children’s health. But now, researchers are concerned that American children may be consuming too many vitamins and minerals.
A report from the Environmental Working Group says that the explosion in fortified foods, coupled with poor government regulation, means that U.S. children are now consuming too many vitamins and minerals. For the most part, they say this won’t cause harm, but for some, there is a fine line between an optimum level that benefits health, and an excess level that causes harm. Children are more vulnerable to overdosing because they have smaller bodies.
Particularly, the report cites several academic and government sources that say millions of American children under the age of 8 are getting too much vitamin A, zinc and niacin from fortified foods and supplements.
Too much vitamin A can cause brittle nails and hair loss, liver damage, skeletal abnormalities, as well as development abnormalities in the fetus of pregnant women. Hip fractures can also be a problem in older adults.
Excess zinc can stop the body from absorbing copper and result in anemia, changes in red and white blood cells and impaired immune function. Too much niacin or vitamin can cause rashes, nausea and liver toxicity.
The report also lists the top 23 cereals that contain the highest added doses of these vitamins and minerals, and another list with snacks. Researchers recommend that parents limit their children’s intake of fortified foods to no more than 20 to 25 percent of the adult Daily Value for vitamin A, zinc and niacin.