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‘Eye-opening’ data reveals reformulation opportunities for dietary supplements for children

By Stephen Daniells , 06-Nov-2012
Last updated on 06-Nov-2012 at 14:56 GMT

Over one-third of American children are not meeting calcium and vitamin D recommendations, even with the use of supplements, says new data from the Office of Dietary Supplements.

The data, published in The Journal of Pediatrics , “may have implications for reformulating dietary supplements for children”, wrote the researchers, led by the ODS’ Regan Bailey, PhD, RD.

Commenting on the results, Taylor Wallace, PhD, senior director, scientific and regulatory affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), told us that the data presented should be “eye-opening because calcium and vitamin D deficiency is not only important in elderly women but a large segment of children are not getting enough”.

On the implications for dietary supplement manufacturers, Dr Wallace added that the industry “is getting there.

“I think the solution is modest fortification and personalized supplementation. Industry takes this data seriously.

“CRN is really concerned with calcium and vitamin D not being listed as nutrients of concern in the 2015 dietary guidelines. These data should send a strong message to the dietary guidelines advisory committee in 2015.”

Key findings

Dr Bailey and her co-workers analyzed data from 7,250 children aged between 2 and 18. Results showed that 21% of under two-year olds received supplements, rising to 42% to children aged between 2 and 8.

Supplement use for the age groups 9 to 13, and 14 to 18 was 29 and 26%, respectively, they added.

Worryingly, the intakes of calcium and vitamin D were low for all children, and more than a one-third of children failed to meet calcium and vitamin D recommendations.

In addition, non-supplement user children had a significantly higher prevalence of inadequate intakes of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamins A and C, compared with supplement users.

However, supplements use was associated with an increased prevalence of usual intakes above the UL (upper limit) for iron, zinc, folic acid, and vitamins A and C, they added.

“Dietary supplement use in children remains a controversial strategy to improve nutrient intakes because, even though their use is associated with lower prevalence of inadequate intakes, it is also associated with an increased risk of excessive intakes (ie, above the UL),” they wrote.

“For this reason, [it has been] previously suggested that dietary supplement manufacturers better tailor the levels of micronutrients in supplements to help achieve a balance between nutrient adequacy and excess.”

Source: The Journal of Pediatrics
November 2012, Volume 161, Issue 5, Pages 837–842.e3
“Do dietary supplements improve micronutrient sufficiency in children and adolescents?”
Authors: R.L. Bailey, V.L. Fulgoni 3rd, D.R. Keast, C.V. Lentino, J.T. Dwyer 

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