Nutrients Too Nutritious?

Popular Children's Breakfast Foods Over-Stocked with Vitamins, Minerals

Generally, consumers believe that the more vitamins and minerals they eat, the healthier and stronger they will be. But when it comes to certain nutrients, more is not always better.

Cereal bars and big bowls of cereal are common breakfasts for children. However, many typically eat more than one serving of these foods in addition to taking vitamin supplements. Within these cereals and snack bars are nutrients that can help our bodies grow big and strong but, if over-consumed, may be dangerous.

Food companies advertise their products that are rich in nutrients. They give the illusion that the more vitamins a product has, the healthier it is. Yet while vitamin A helps night vision, for example, too much of it can cause liver damage. Similarly, while Zinc can help the body fight off infections, too much of it can disrupt the immune system.

A recent study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit group that promotes public health, confirmed that foods packed with large amounts of vitamins and minerals can be harmful. In this study, the EWG found large amounts of vitamin A, niacin, and zinc in the 1,556 breakfast cereals and 1,025 snack bars tested. 114 of the cereals tested contained 30% more of the three nutrients than what is recommended by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 27 of the snack bars had 50% more than the recommended amount.

The FDA requires that all food products have nutrition facts on their packages. However, these labels only indicate recommended nutrition amounts for adults, not children. Based on this information, researchers concluded that many children are likely consuming harmful amounts of nutrients. Therefore, the EWG wants the FDA to change its guidelines for nutrition intake and to revise daily recommended values to reflect children's diets more appropriately.

This study also indicates that the best way to get nutrients is to eat fresh, unprocessed foods. Additionally, to maintain proper health, it is crucial not only to read and but also to understand the implications of nutrition labels.

[Source: Time for Kids]