Two industry organizations that provide vitamins to children in the United States and around the world reported on their progress in March at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, Calif. The Healthy Foundation, based in Murrieta, Calif., reported that school children given daily multivitamins showed developmental, emotional and physical improvements. Santa Barbara, Calif.-based The Vitamin Angel Alliance said generous donations will enable them to continue serving at-risk communities around the world.
Survey Results Spur Further Research
A daily multivitamin may improve the academic performance, health and behavior of at-risk elementary school children, according to a recent survey that has prompted congressional funding for further research. The survey was conducted by THF, a nonprofit agency that created the Vitamin Relief USA-Children First vitamin supplementation program in September 2001, which gives more than 5,000 needy children a daily chewable multivitamin.
The improvements were observed in 961 children represented in a survey sent out in January to parents and staff to gauge the program's impact. "The comments were way beyond what I expected," said Michael Morton, THF executive director. "It's very exciting and rewarding for us."
One quarter of the parents surveyed reported that their children were able to concentrate better, and 23 percent said their children were doing better in school. This was confirmed by 23 percent of the teachers and staff who said that the participating children received higher grades.
Forty-six percent of staff and teachers reported that the children had more energy; 52 percent said the children were eating better. Thirty percent of parents reported that their children were sleeping better, and 29 percent said their children were more physically active.
About one quarter of the parents, teachers and staff said they found emotional improvements in the children. Children taking the supplements reported feeling better about themselves. Twenty-two percent of parents surveyed said their children have a better self-image, and 30 percent of teachers and staff agreed.
"While the informational survey is not data, it's a really good indicator," Morton said. "But we need to follow it up with more research, which is what we are going to do." Congress has appropriated $500,000 to THF to conduct a definitive study to measure academic improvement and behavior in several thousand participating students.
The U.S. Pharmacopoeia also recently pledged its support by agreeing to test the children's chewable multivitamin used in the THF research program—a move that will save the organization money it would have spent on third-party testing. "This is a real boon for us; it frees up cash dollars that allow for us to do better research," Morton said.
"If [vitamin supplementation] does affect grades and attendance the way we think it does, it could have a big impact on both health care and education policy," Morton said. He expects the research findings to be available next spring.
For more information, visit the THF Web site at www.thehealthyfoundation.org.
Halos And Kudos For Vitamin Angel Donors
The Vitamin Angel Alliance will treat millions of children around the world for malnutrition and disease this year thanks to generous donations, according to Howard Schiffer, president of the nonprofit organization.
Among this year's donations were 5,000 albendazole deworming tablets from the Franconia Mennonite Conference that will enable VAA to treat 2,500 children for parasitic worms for one year. "The worms can eat up to one third of a child's daily food intake," Schiffer said. The deworming tablets will be administered twice a year in conjunction with Campaign Vitamin A, a supplementation program that helps prevent childhood blindness.
Recent contributions by Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Boericke and Tafel and Hyland's Standard Homeopathics of Los Angeles provided VAA with enough homeopathic medicine to stock the Honduran Health Exchange for one year.
Rainbow Light of Santa Cruz, Calif., will continue to give VAA 10 prenatal vitamins for each bottle of prenatal vitamins it sells. "Last year they gave over 1 million [prenatal vitamins] to us, so their program has had tremendous worldwide impact," Schiffer said.
At Natural Products Expo West, VAA requested more children's chewable supplements be donated for distribution in Ghana. "The children's multivitamins are what often keep the children alive," Schiffer said. "Six kids died last year from anemia; we can prevent that pretty easily but we didn't have enough vitamins for that region." The agency is still seeking children's chewable multivitamin donations.
For more information, visit the VAA Web site at www.vitaminangelalliance.com.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIII/number 4/p. 7