Vitamins: Needed or not?


Chicago Parent Staff


Short stuff: Health roundup
Do your children need a daily vitamin supplement? If they’re already taking one, chances are they don’t.

A report in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that about a third of the 10,000 children studied took a vitamin each day. Yet most of these children had access to health care, ate healthy diets and got lots of physical activity—all indications that they were getting enough vitamins and minerals without needing a supplement.

Those children who did not take a daily supplement, however, tended to be from lower-income homes, had poorer diets and had more of a medical need for vitamin supplements.

Dr. Timothy Wall, a Naperville pediatrician who works with the Illinois chapter of the American Association of Pediatrics, says food—not supplements—is a much more complete way for kids to obtain their vitamins and minerals.

"There isn’t harm in taking (a supplement) if it’s in moderation," he says. "My concern is that parents who do give vitamins would be lulled into giving up trying to offer a good diet to their child."

That means parents must get back to basics: encouraging their children to eat a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables and plenty of dairy products.

The only exception, Wall says, may be vitamin D. While older children can get the AAP daily recommended amount by drinking 1 quart of milk a day, parents may want to ask their pediatrician about vitamin D supplements if their kids don’t consume enough dairy products.

Energy drinks not for kids
Ever wonder how to keep young athletes hydrated as temperatures rise? Water is always the first choice, says Children Memorial Hospital’s Dr. Rebecca Carl, but sports drinks are a reasonable alternative.

What not to hand your sweaty player? Energy drinks. Carl says giving extra caffeine to a child who already has increased their heart rate through physical activity is never a good idea.



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