June 24, 2014 6:06 pm

Children might get too many vitamins from fortified cereals: report

Watch above: Dr. Samir Gupta talks about fortified cereals and gives some tips to keep a healthy diet. 

TORONTO – A new report suggests everyday breakfast cereal may be giving kids unhealthy amounts of some vitamins and minerals.

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The report by the Environmental Working Group in Washington, D.C. notes the nutritional breakdown on cereal boxes often times contains the suggested levels for adults – kids on the other hand, require far less.

The group’s director of research Renee Sharp told USA Today that only a “tiny, tiny percentage” of cereal boxes carry nutrition labels that list age-appropriate levels.

“That’s misleading to parents and is contributing to the problem,” she told the newspaper.

The report notes the fortified cereals could lead to over consumption of Vitamin A, Niacin and Zinc in children. Dr. Samir Gupta says excessive levels of Vitamin A in children can cause liver damage, but that excessive levels of Niacin and Zinc are “less of a concern.”

Gupta says children would have to eat approximately 10 times their daily intake over a sustained period of time to have side effects.

All foods must contain nutritional information on the packaging but that can sometimes be “outdated” and “inaccurate” Gupta says, because “daily recommended amounts date back several decades and since then haven’t been updated.”

Gupta has four tips for parents who are concerned about their children’s vitamin intake:

1.  Don’t buy cereals just because of the fortified vitamins

“It’s often just a marketing gimmick. We don’t have deficiencies in these vitamins and minerals in north American diets.”

2. Do you need supplements?

There are risks associated with supplements and these may lead to side effects if combined with fortified foods.

3. Remember portion control

If you exceed suggested portions then it might be easier to exceed suggested guidelines of vitamins and minerals.

4. Go to the “original source”

The nutrient amounts and types found in the original whole foods provide optimal nutrition and less risk than those in processed foods that have been fortified.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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