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TalkingNutrition

Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

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Young Children Require Vitamins to Develop

By Michael McBurney

Poor vitamin status contributes to poor growth in children 6-to 30-months of age. This is the conclusion of Strand and colleagues from a randomized, placebo controlled double-blind study providing twice the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of folic acid and/or vitamin B12 (vs placebo) daily for 6 months.

While caregivers may sometimes feel they have relinquished control of their lives to their children, the food and cultural experiences of toddlers are set by caregivers. Families living under lower SES conditions carry a disproportionately heavy disease burden and can experience periods of limited food choices and availability. Young children are most vulnerable. Indeed, 25% of children under 5y are iron deficient in many countries. Failure to consume enough vitamins and minerals can lead to blindness and stunting.

Because time doesn’t stop, there isn’t a single “right” approach to prevent nutrient deficiencies in young children. There is a sense of urgency. Toddlers need nutrients to grow and develop. Ready-to-Use-Therapeutic Food (RUTF) has “revolutionized” the treatment of severe malnutrition in children. Nutrient gaps can be met with home fortification, formulated or fortified complementary foods, and fortified foods. Multivitamin-mineral supplements are a safe and often important source of essential nutrients.

Hippocrates said it best, “I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability  and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.” He would choose a regimen based on the needs of the patient.

The greatest potential harm to children is to withhold options because of personal dietary beliefs. Children need essential nutrients – vitamins, minerals, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA – to grow and develop.

Main Citation

Strand TA, Taneja S, Kumar T, Manger MS, Refsum H, Yajnik CS, Bhandari N. Vitamin B12, folic acid, and growth in 6- to 30-month-old children: A randomized controlled trial. 2015 Pediatr doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-1848

Other Citations

Mackenbach JP, Stirbu I, roskam A-JR, Schaap MM, Menvielle G, Leinsalu M, Kunst AE. Socioeconomic inequalities in health in 22 European countries. 2008 NEJM doi: 10.1056/NEJMsa0707519

Black MM, Quigg AM, Hurley KM, Pepper MR. Iron deficiency and iron-deficiency anemia in the first two years of life: strategies to prevent loss of developmental potential. 2011 Nutr Rev doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00435.x

Fahmida U et al. Effectiveness of improving knowledge, practices, and intakes of “key problem nutrients” of a complementary feeding intervention developed by using linear programming: experience in Lombok, Indonesia”.  2015 Am J Clin Nutr  doi:10.3945/ajcn.114.092585


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