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The Tragedy of Vitamins : Often a Source of Poisoning in Children

January 24, 1985

Habitually rewarding your children with sweet, chewable vitamins may set the stage for accidental tragedy, according to the California Dietetic Assn.

"Given as rewards or treats, it's easy to understand how taking vitamins--even in large amounts--can be misinterpreted as harmless by young children," said Rita Storey, president of CDA. "Unfortunately, that misunderstanding often results in accidental poisoning."

Chewable vitamins and baby aspirin are the most frequently mentioned source of accidental poisonings in children under age 5, according to the federal Food and Drug Administration.

Need Questioned "You probably don't even need children's vitamins or mineral supplements around the house if you're feeding children the recommended number of servings from the four food groups--milk, meat, vegetables and fruits, breads and cereals," Storey said.

Three daily servings from the milk group, two from the meat group and four each from the vegetable/fruit and bread/cereal groups should provide all the nutrients your children need to be healthy and active.

If your child's pediatrician prescribes a vitamin supplement, accidental overdosing can be avoided by treating the vitamins as medicine instead of treats.

So before you reach for the vitamins at the grocery store, try thinking about the foods in your basket. Can they give your child the balanced diet she or he needs? If the answer is yes, your child probably doesn't need vitamins. By passing them up, you could be avoiding a potential mishap.

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