Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pill-Popping Kids and Teens?

It's a question that is on many parents' minds - do kids and teens really need to be taking vitamin and mineral supplements? According to a U.S. study, one third of kids and teens are indeed supplementing their diets and they probably don't need to be. Healthy, active youngsters who eat a variety of foods are likely getting all of the nutrients they need from their diets alone. Hey, someone did once say that 'Variety is the spice of life'.

Even Canada's food guide reminds us to "choose a variety" of fruits, veggies and grains, and mix up meats and alternatives as well as milk and alternatives from day to day. This way, we can hope to cover all of our bases and not get stuck in a nutritional rut (or get bored for that matter!). They go on to say that "By eating the right amount and type of food recommended in Canada's Food Guide, children can get the nutrients they need to grow and thrive". They also recommend being active every day.

Supplementing diets with additional vitamins and minerals may not be harmful if they are taken correctly, however an excess of certain micronutrients can, in fact, be harmful if they reach toxic levels. And another thing - supplements aren't cheap! Families that can afford to purchase supplements are more likely to already be consuming a range of foods including dairy products, foods high in fibre and low in fat - over all healthy!

The researchers were sure to remind parents and their kids that taking a supplement will not make up for a lousy diet. Just remember - a vitamin or mineral supplement is not a band-aid solution; it is, well, just a supplement - an addition, a complement to a diet that might need a little help.