A study published February 3 in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine found that nearly a third of U.S. children ages 2 to 17 take a multivitamin or other vitamin or mineral supplement—but many of these kids may not require supplementation and those most in need are the least likely to take supplements, the researchers reported. In response to the study—which triggered hundreds of media hits—the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) issued a statement pointing out that the researchers failed to mention that other data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the survey used for the study, show that many U.S. children and adolescents fail to consume recommended amounts of vitamins E, C and A, as well as calcium and magnesium. “A daily multivitamin could affordably and safely help fill these nutrient gaps,” said Douglas MacKay, ND, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at CRN. Interestingly, only a handful of media outlets included comment from the association or other health experts defending the intake of multivitamins by children. Most articles and news stories simply reported the study findings without providing an alternate view.
In his response to the study, CRN’s MacKay also noted that many supplement companies and others in the nutrition industry have been diligently working to bring multivitamins and other much-needed supplements to poor children and other underserved populations. “The supplement industry supports the need for vitamins to be available to all individuals, including those of a lower socioeconomic status, through a number of initiatives, including through organizations such as Nourish America and Vitamin Angels,” MacKay said. “In addition, the dietary supplement industry has long lobbied for legislation to include multivitamins with folic acid in the Food Stamp Provision of the Farm Bill, as well as passage of bills that allow purchase of supplements through flexible spending accounts or health spending accounts, to ensure that all consumers have access to vitamins that can positively impact their overall health and wellness.”
In its report, the study authors erroneously stated that dietary supplements are unregulated—a statement CRN also corrected in its response. Unfortunately, a number of media stories about the study reported the false statement, possibly adding further fuel to the common misperception that supplements remain unregulated by the U.S. government.
Nutrition Business Journal Editor Carlotta Mast will be moderating a panel on children’s nutrition at 4:30 p.m. on March 5, 2009, at the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, California. For more information about the panel or Expo West, go to www.expowest.com.
NBJ will also publish an entire issue devoted to the children’s nutrition market in April. To order a copy of the issue, subscribe to NBJ or request a 32-page sample issue of the journal, go to www.nutritionbusinessjournal.com.
If you’re an NBJ subscriber and you’re interested in reading more of NBJ’s past coverage of the children’s nutrition market, please see:
Natural & Organic Packaged Goods Companies Target Children
Thirsty Market for Kids’ Beverages
Innovation Fuels Growth in Children’s Supplements