Children’s vitamins: Too much of a good thing?

vitamins childrenDo you ever worry that your baby or toddler isn’t getting enough vitamins? Well, if you’re giving your child vitamin supplements, he or she may actually be getting too much, according to an analysis published Jan. 27 in JAMA Pediatrics.

The analysis was published as a letter authored by a person with a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences and two board-certified pharmacists.

Using a national database of dietary supplements, the authors downloaded the labels identifying the contents of 21 products intended for children younger than 12 months and 172 products intended for children ages 12 months up to 4 years.

The researchers then separated out each product’s contents vitamin by vitamin and compared those amounts with the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) recommended daily allowance (RDA) or adequate intake (AI) for the intended age group.

After looking at a range of nutrients—such as vitamins A, B and C as well as vitamins like niacin and riboflavin—the researchers found that the only vitamin that met or fell below recommended levels for both age groups was vitamin D.

Every other vitamin was present in levels higher than the RDA or AI—as much as 936 percent higher.

The IOM recommends against giving infants more than the RDA or AI of many vitamins—such as vitamins C, E, K, B6 and B12, as well as thiamin, riboflavin and a list of others. For children ages 1 through 3 years, excess vitamins K and B12, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, pantothenic acid, and biotin are not recommended.

However, the authors noted, the recommendations against excess vitamin supplements for these very young children isn’t based on hard evidence of harm. Instead, it’s because of “a lack of data of adverse effects in this age group and concern with regard to the lack of ability to handle excess amounts.”

The IOM recommends children younger than age 4 get these vitamins from food only. The authors of the letter agreed, and they questioned why the dietary supplement industry wasn’t adhering to IOM standards.

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