Oh Baby: ABC's on Children's Vitamins - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Oh Baby: ABC's on Children's Vitamins

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by Sunny Layne

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Parents giving their children vitamins is nothing new. But these days, they're reaching for more than just the multi! individual supplements for kids are being scooped up, too. When is it time to reach for the pills and drops? are they necessary?

For Natasha Solis Ramos, mealtime can be a food fight. There are certain dishes her 1-year-old loves.

"I can give her chicken nuggets or quesadillas and fruit," she said.

And those she loves to leave on her plate.

"She doesn't like her vegetables too much," she said.  "She doesn't really eat any type of red meat."

To ensure Eivissa gets her ABC's, Ramos gives her a multi-vitamin, and was considering cod liver oil, too.

Carlotta Mast with the Nutrition Business Journal says sales of children's formulas are on the rise.

"[In 2009] sales of children's vitamins and mineral products grew 25 percent at grocery stores, drug stores, and other mass market stores, and grew 10 percent in natural health food stores and vitamin specialty stores," Mast said.

We're not just talking multi-vitamins. Separate supplements, like omega-3's and vitamin D, are also experiencing healthy growth.

"I think a lot of Americans view the multi-vitamin, or a vitamin D supplement, or omega-3 supplement as a good insurance policy," she said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says it's a policy parents don't need. Spokesperson Dr. Michael Cabana says vitamins and other supplements are only necessary when a child isn't eating a healthy, well-balanced diet.  And even then, there are questions.

"Vitamins, by definition, are only needed in small amounts. So even the pickiest of eaters probably have enough of all the vitamins that they need," Cabana said.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade association for vitamin and supplement makers, points to government data that shows many children may not be getting what they need in some areas.

"In fact, data from the USDA shows that kids fall short in some very important nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D," Dr. Duffy MacKay said.

Dr. Cabana agrees that vitamin D is an exception, but only in certain circumstances. For example, he says kids who are exclusively breastfed, along with African American and Hispanic children tend to be at risk for deficiency. As for omega-3 supplements, he's hesitant to put on the green light.

"I'm not aware of any evidence suggesting that omega-3's are beneficial for kids specifically," Cabana said.

While taking the recommended doses of these supplements won't hurt your child, the AAP says they may not help in the long run.

No matter what you decide, Dr. Cabana and the CRN agree: keep your pediatrician in the know.

"Consider vitamins and supplements in the same category as medicines, because there can be interactions," he said.

"When a parent is choosing a dietary supplement they need to do some research," MacKay said.

Ramos did her homework.  After chatting with her doctor, she's decided to shelf the cod liver oil for now, but she is sticking with the multi-vitamin.

"I don't think that in my case that, you know, she's getting everything she needs," the mother said.

Online Anchor: Sunny Layne

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