Vitamin Supplements Not Necessary for Healthy Children

Usage rates are highest in groups who may benefit the least from supplementation

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 4 (HealthDay News) -- About one-third of children and adolescents use vitamin and mineral supplements, and usage is highest in those for whom supplementation may not be medically indicated, according to an article published in the February issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Ulfat Shaikh, M.D., of the University of California Davis School of Medicine in Sacramento, and colleagues analyzed data from a nationally representative sample of 10,828 children aged 2 to 17 who participated in the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Overall, the investigators found that about 34 percent of the children had used vitamin and mineral supplements in the past month. They found that supplement use was higher among children with excellent or very good health status (37.1 percent and 34.7 percent, respectively) than among those with good or fair/poor health (26.7 percent and 28.3 percent, respectively), and in underweight children (41.6 percent) compared to normal-weight, overweight or obese children (36 percent, 30.5 percent, and 28.6 percent, respectively). The researchers also found that greater use was associated with factors such as non-Hispanic white race, healthy diet and exercise behaviors, health insurance coverage, and better health care access.

"Because of greater health care access of vitamin and mineral supplement users, health care providers are well positioned to screen patients regarding nutritional quality of their diet and vitamin and mineral supplement use," the authors write. "Health care providers can then counsel parents that the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend use of vitamin and mineral supplements in children and adolescents with varied and healthy diets."

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