Children often consume too many vitamins. Researchers warn not to underestimate the health damage caused by a vitamin C overdose.
According to a recent study by the US Environmental Working Group, children consume far too many vitamins A, C, zinc, and niacin. This is usually due to foods advertised as intended for children that have been artificially fortified with vitamins and minerals.
The researchers complain: Parents are not only guided by nutritional information that goes back to outdated daily requirement calculations, but also by consumption recommendations that were calculated for adults. Children whose daily requirement for nutrients is lower can easily overconsume certain substances.
In concrete terms, adults have a more than three times higher requirement for vitamins A and C than children, for example. The daily requirement in Germany is regulated by an EU directive from 1990.
Vitamin overdose from fortified foods
The study that has now been published shows that children consume far more vitamins and minerals than they need every day through artificially fortified foods. For example, “one serving” of cornflakes sometimes contains twice the amount of niacin a child needs for the day. Nutrition experts, therefore, advise parents not to give healthy children any additional vitamins or minerals, since a balanced diet already covers the daily requirement.
A US study also calculated that normally nourished children consume on average 45 percent too much zinc, and 8 percent too much vitamin A and niacin. If children are provided with additional vitamin preparations – such as the very common vitamin tablets – the numbers are significantly higher. These children are consuming 84 percent too much zinc, 72 percent too much vitamin A, and 28 percent too much niacin.
Underestimate the dangers of a vitamin C overdose
In their study, the scientists warn against underestimating the health consequences of a vitamin C overdose, especially in children. Studies in four to eight-year-old children have shown that gastrointestinal diseases and metabolic problems can occur after just a short time. In the long term, the health risks are far more far-reaching. Long-term overconsumption of vitamins leads to liver and skeletal damage, zinc overdose impairs the immune system and too much niacin has a long-term effect on the liver like poison.