The study’s lead author, Dr. Ulfat Shaikh, a pediatrician at the University of California-Davis Children’s Hospital in Sacramento, says taking daily multivitamins in the dose recommended on the label probably is harmless. However, they often aren’t needed for healthy children with a varied diet, she said.
Shaikh said kids in the study “who had the ideal profile — higher dietary fiber intake, higher milk intake, lower total fat and cholesterol intake, lower computer use, greater physical activity, lower obesity, kids that had insurance coverage, had good health care access, whose parents said that they were in good health — these kinds of kids were the highest users.”
Still, there’s mounting evidence about important potential benefits from a vitamin that can be hard to get enough of from food, particularly for kids who don’t drink much milk. That’s vitamin D.
The study is based on data from 10,828 kids whose parents took part in a national health survey that included interviews about diet and supplement use. Overall, 34 percent of the children had recently taken vitamin/mineral supplements and almost half of users took them daily.
Vitamin/mineral use was highest among 2- to 4-year-olds — 43 percent, and lowest in 12- to 17-year-olds — 27 percent.
Among children in excellent health, 37 percent used the supplements, versus 28 percent of those in fair or poor health. The breakdown was similar when comparing frequent milk drinkers to those who generally avoided dairy products.