Eating Fortified Foods & Multivitamin Supplements is Good, not Harmful
Based on headlines, one would assume that it isn’t beneficial, may even be detrimental, to choose multivitamin supplements for your child (or yourself). The pundits would have you believe that choosing a healthy diet, preferably one consisting of naturally-grown, local vegetables, grains and fruit and meats (if you are so inclined) from animals fed organically-grown feeds is the best way to go. This could be true if you live close to a one of the few farms (lowest number reported since 2006) found in America or you follow MyPyramid. However, the fact is that few are eating the recommended number of servings.
The reality is that American children face increased risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses because of not consuming recommended amounts of vitamin A (Thornton et al, 2014). Consumption of dairy products, an important source of vitamins A, D, B12, B2, and calcium, is also decreasing (Dror & Allen, 2013). This compounds the likelihood of nutrient gaps.
Enriched and fortified foods contribute a large proportion of the intakes of vitamins A, C and D, as well as thiamin, iron, and folate for a large proportion of the population (Dwyer et al, 2014). Many people would not achieve micronutrient intakes recommended in dietary reference intakes (DRIs) if they did not eat processed foods which have been fortified or enriched. For many, the likelihood of nutrient shortfalls is further decreased by using a multivitamin supplement (Dwyer et al, 2014).
The primary reason that parents choose supplements for their children is “to improve overall health” (Bailey et al, 2013). Supplement use improves nutritional intakes, of both children and adults. Children using dietary supplements have a lower risk of inadequate intakes of vitamins D, A, C, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus (Bailey et al, 2012). The data is convincing. Parents who buy enriched/fortified foods for their families are providing more nutrient-rich foods for their children. Children who regularly use multivitamin supplements are better nourished.
What parent doesn’t want to give their child every advantage? Nutrition is part of that preparation; an advantage that persists for a lifetime.
Thornton KA, Mora-Plazas M, Marin C, Villamor E. Vitamin A deficiency is associated with gastrointestinal and respiratory morbidity in school-age children. 2014 J Nutr doi: 10.3945/jn.113.185876
Dror DK, Allen LH. Dairy product intake in children and adolescents in developed countries: trends, nutritional contribution, and a review of association with health outcomes. 2013 Nutr Rev doi: 10.1111/nure.12078
Dwyer JT, Woteki C, Bailey R, Britten P, Carriquiry A, Gaine CP, Miller D, Moshfegh A, Murphy MM, Smith Edge M. Fortification: new findings and implications. 2014 Nutr Rev doi: 10.1111.nure.12086
Bailey RL, Fulgoni III, VL, Keast DR, Lentino CV,Dwyer JT. Do dietary supplements improve micronutrient sufficiency in children and adolescents? 2012 J Pediatr doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.05.009