Parents hope to do something good for their little ones with special dietary supplements. Children usually don’t need supplements. They are even often too high dosed, shows a market check of the consumer centers. Also the donation goods test evaluates regularly most different food auxiliary means – usually their use is not sufficiently occupied.
Suppliers of food supplements are trying to win over parents and children for their products with colourful packaging or tablets in appealing shapes such as bears or racing cars. The products are intended to strengthen the children’s immune system or improve their performance. Consumer centres have taken a closer look at 26 products for children. Result: With 22 preparations at least one of the contained Vitamine or one of the mineral materials was over the reference value.
Possible consequences: Headache, nausea, fatigue
85 percent of the funds were therefore too high in the opinion of the consumer centres. This can have undesirable consequences. For example, high doses of fat-soluble vitamin A or D could accumulate in the body and have a negative effect on health in the form of headaches, nausea or fatigue, write the consumer protectors. In addition, the remedies are above all expensive. The preparations from the market check cost on the average with daily application nearly 200 euro in the year.
There are no maximum quantities, but there are recommendations
There are no legally stipulated maximum amounts for vitamins and minerals in food supplements. However, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment has developed corresponding recommendations and updated them at the beginning of the year (see Vitamins and minerals: When more is too much). Products that comply with these recommendations and are taken according to the manufacturer’s instructions should not pose any health problems for people aged 15 and over. However, there are often higher doses of these products on the market. This was demonstrated by an exemplary purchase of 35 vitamin preparations by Stiftung Warentest in the summer of 2017 (Vitamins: Many preparations are clearly too highly dosed).
Food supplements are poorly controlled
Even though dietary supplements often seem like drugs because of their dosage form – tablets, capsules, powders – they are legally considered to be food. They therefore do not need to be approved or tested for efficacy and safety in studies. The packages must not advertise that the products can alleviate or cure diseases. Health claims are only allowed if they have been approved by the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) (see Food supplements: less strictly regulated than medicines).
Supplementary drugs only make sense for a few people
Those who eat a healthy and balanced diet usually do not need any dietary supplements. For certain groups of people, however, some dietary supplements can be useful – such as folic acid for pregnant women, vitamin B12 for vegans or vitamin D for babies in their first year of life or people who have very little contact with the sun. Most people are sufficiently supplied with nutrients through food alone. This also applies to children: instead of colourful pills, a balanced diet, sufficient sleep and plenty of exercise in the fresh air are decisive for healthy development. Anyone taking dietary supplements on a permanent basis should consult a doctor beforehand.