33% of Children In The U.S. Take Dietary Supplements

According to a report, one third of children and adolescents (aged 0-19 years) in the United States take dietary supplements like omega-3 fatty acids, multivitamins and melatonin regularly, Alexandra Sifferlin writes on TIME.

This finding is concerning since there is no proven benefit for healthy children and adolescents taking supplements.

The report, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, looked at national survey data on supplement use among 4,404 children and adolescents from 2003 to 2014.  

A parent or caregiver provided information for survey participants who were younger than 16 and for those who could not answer for themselves. 

Participants were asked if they had “used or taken any vitamins, minerals, herbals, or other dietary supplements in the past 30 days.” Those who answered yes were asked to show the interviewer the containers for all the dietary supplements used.

The report discovered that 33.2% of children and adolescents in the United States use dietary supplements.

The report states that: "Many of the most commonly used supplements, including multivitamins, are implicated in preventable adverse drug events among this population. ...commonly used nutritional products and alternative medicines, are also increasingly associated with adverse cardiovascular effects,"

Report author Dima M. Qato, an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Systems, Outcomes and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, says parents should avoid giving their kids supplements if they do not have any nutritional deficiencies.

“Dietary supplements have no proven benefits in healthy kids and have some known risks,” says Qato.

“They are not strictly regulated and the quality of products is questionable.”

From 2013 to 2014, multivitamins were the most commonly used dietary supplement.

Iron, calcium, multivitamins, and single vitamins were more commonly used among adolescent girls.

Adolescent boys were more likely to use omega-3 fatty acid supplements and bodybuilding supplements.

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