Kiddie Vitamins: Too Good for Kids' Health?

Catherine Crawford
11

I’ve always had my doubts about children’s vitamins. In particular, I had the sneaking suspicion that they’re completely ineffective. However, as my children have grown so fond of them (and what little kid wouldn’t love two gummy bears dusted with sugar before 8 a.m.?), I try not to dwell on this hunch too much. What harm could they do?

Umm, according to this article out of Australia, there’s evidence that's going to make me have to reassess my laissez faire attitude.

Apparently, on top of a balanced diet, these adorable little vitamins can tip the scale on iron intake, which is the main worry. Bummer. The article states that “several studies … suggested too much iron could affect a child’s growth, make them more susceptible to infections, and prompt behavioral issues.” This kind of talk makes me feel like I’d be better off just giving my vitamin-addicted kids regular gummy bears with breakfast.  

I know, I know. Just scrap the whole ritual. And I probably will.

But the debacle has me feeling, again, like I can never get a break when it comes to nutrition for my kids. Ironically, the problem with the vitamins seems not to be that they are useless but rather they are too effective. How I wish I lived in an era (or a country) where there were no hidden mines in the endeavor to healthily (or at least not disgustingly) feed children.

Right now, I’m away from home with my kids (school starts next Wednesday), which means I’m also away from our trusted grocery store. If I have to take my kids with me to buy groceries at home (something I like to avoid if at all possible), I know how to navigate the aisles of our usual market with skill, bypassing items that will tempt my kids into begging. However, in an unfamiliar store, all bets are off. Today, as I shopped with my girls, it felt like I was speaking in a loop: “No. Too much sugar.” “No. That’s disgusting.” “No. That will make you sick.”  

My daughter asked me why the store would sell food that makes kids sick. Good question, and I’m still not sure how to phrase my answer for a 6-year-old.

Growing up, the only food I was taught to fear was “sugary” cereal, and even that was tempered as my mom allowed us to pick any cereal we wanted on our birthdays. But, these days, my kids know that danger could lurk in anything from pasta sauce to lemonade. On the one hand, I want to keep them innocent, but on the other, we are told to educate our kids about healthy eating. So I do, and it kind of breaks my heart. Sigh …

What are you biggest fears when it comes to kids' nutrition?

 

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