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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Diet, Multivitamin-Mineral Supplements and Childhood Development

By Michael McBurney

Children depend upon caregivers for love, housing, and clothing. Last week, I wrote about nutrition vulnerability associated with low socioeconomic status. A new study emphasizes the risks of being born without privilege.

Drewnowski and Rehm examined whole fruit intake and 100% fruit juice intake in the United States using nationally representative data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES, 2007-2010). Children (4-13y) consume only 1.2 servings of total fruit daily with ~40% being consumed as fruit juice. This falls short of recommended daily amounts. Even more disheartening; oung children ate more fruit than adults. Differences in income/education were most pronounced for whole fruit. Children from families with less education and income ate less whole fruit.

Approximately 29% of children 9-13y reported using dietary supplements in the US between 2003-2006 with the most prevalent form being a multivitamin-mineral supplement (20%).  Supplement use among children drops dramatically as annual family income falls: 22% in families earning <$24,000 versus 42% in those ≥$65,000. Children who aren’t using multivitamin-mineral supplements are more likely to come from poorer families with less education, to not have private health insurance or a place where they receive conventional medical care, and less likely to report having better health.

In other words, children who are not using dietary supplements need them the most. Why? Because their diets are more likely to be missing essential vitamins and minerals. Children need nutrients to develop, to grow, and to achieve their potential. Effective interventions are needed to improve diet quality and increase fruit intake, especially among minorities and low-income families.

Time doesn’t stand still. Encourage children to eat more fruit and fortified foods. In addition, multivitamin-mineral supplements can help fill micronutrient gaps and improve nutritional status.

Main Citation

Drewnowski A, Rehm CD. Socioeconomic gradient in consumption of whole fruit and 100% fruit juice among US children and adults. 2015 Nutr J doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-14-3

Other Citations

Bailey RL, Gahche JJ, Lentino CV, Dwyer JT, Engel JS, Thomas PR, Betz JM, Sempos CT, Picciano MF. Dietary supplement use in the United States, 2003-2006. 2010 J Nutr doi: 10.3945/jn.110.133025

Picciano MF, Dwyer JT, Radimer KL, Wilson DH, Fisher KD, Thomas PR, Yetley EA, Moshfegh AJ, Levy PS, Nielsen SJ, Marriott BM. Dietary supplement use among infants, children, and adolescents in the United States, 1999-2002. 2007 JAMA Ped doi: 10.1001/archpedi.161.10.978

Dwyer J, Nahin RL, Rogers GT, Barnes PM, Jacques PM, Sempos CT, Bailey R. Prevalence and predictors of children’s dietary supplement use: the 2007 National Health Interview Survey. 2013 Am J Clin Nutr doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.052373

Wallace TC, McBurney M, Fulgoni VL. Multivitamin/mineral supplement contribution to micronutrient intakes in the United States, 2007-2010. 2014 J Am Coll Nutr doi: 10.1080/07315724.2013.846806