January 7, 2009 - Joanne White

Vitamin-Enriched Kids

A new trend? Wandering around to lots of camps, day events and parks, last summer, with my 6-year-old, I've seen lots of snacks. With that, I’ve noticed the emergence of a distrubing new snack trend. Healthy active kids being offered vitamin charged snacks, gives me pause. Sure, a few kids may have health concerns and need vitamin supplements prescribed by a physician, but these aren't the children I've seen drinking "energy water' (or "vitamin water") or eating chocolate protein or energy bars.

What's fine and what's too much? An occasional energy bar or nutrient enhanced beverage is probably fine. But look at this scenario: A full-sized bottle of vitamin charged water and a snack bar with vitamins and supplements put together. Suddenly the 100% Vitamin C becomes 200% C. Other vitamins compound to 100% or more and there's no telling the exact compounding of all the array of flavors and brands which contain different standard ingredients. Also consider that the recommended daily value given on the label is for adult bodies not kids. What conversion factor I don’t know and and I bet you don't either. Further consider that many bottles of vitamin water are labeled per serving and a bottle has 2.5 servings! So, are your kids getting 4-12 times the amount of vitamins, vitamins they probably don't need any extra of in the first place? My further concern lies with parents making the assumption that Energy Water or vitamin bars are a superior choice to juice and a cookie, or water and PBJ, or crackers, or nuts and dried fruit! (I've read that no vitamin water manufacturer recommends their water for children under 12. - Jack)

Thus said, there are kid-friendly energy bars which have okay ingredients, like the organic Z-Bar from Clif. The nutrient additives are geared for small bodies and I think in a pinch this is an okay thing to have at hand – sort of the “new” granola or snack bar.

Do kids need the extra vitamin boost? Probably not. Do adults need it, probably not. Is it potentially harmful? My understanding is that some vitamins and supplements not used or needed just get washed through your body and excreted. But others do not (such as Vitamin A - Glaceau Focus has 62.5% of an Adult's daily dose in a single bottle!). Common sense tells me you do not want to vitamin supercharging your healthy kids on a regular basis. So maybe stop reaching for bars and hydration drinks, and make a better choice.

It’s the compounding I worry about most, as I see mothers head to the checkout counter with flats of vitamin water aboard their shopping cart (they even make it in lunchbox-sized bottles). So think twice and stick to water! Lime and lemon slices (or even cucumber slices or mint leaves) make water a festive and always welcome on-the-go treat. Invest in a few non-BPA bottles like the Sigg ones and head out!

An energy bar l looked at had: Vitamin A 20%, Vitamin C 80%, Calcium 40%, Iron 25%, Vitamin E 80%, Thiamin 40%, Riboflavin 40%, Niacin 40%, Vitamin B6 40%, Folate 80%, Vitamin B12 80%, Biotin 40%, Pantothenic Acid 80%, Phosphorus 20%, Magnesium 20%, Zinc 20%, Copper 20%, Chromium 20%, Vitamin K 20%, Iodine 20%, Manganese 20%, Molybdenum 20%, and Selenium 20%.

to Parents:

Gatorade and other popular sports drinks
with electrolytes, often contain almost as much or more sweetener than a soda and often that sweetener is high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Sports drinks also use artificial colors and flavors.

On Crystalline Fructose: Drinks containing crystalline fructose look like they maybe sugarless or sweetened with friendly sugar – not so! Crystalline fructose has more fructose than HFCS and it’s more often than not made from corn starch (not fruit!), making it a very un-merry cousin of high fructose corn syrup.  If you are overseas or outside the US, watch out for glucose-fructose syrup.

A better choice? Water and maybe fruit or water mixed with real fruit juice.

Further Reading on
Crystalline Fructose:

The Cleaner Plate Club:
Pet Peeve:
Crystalline Fructose

Two nice articles from The Fit Shack on
What is crystalline fructose?”
Health Drinks that Contain Crystalline Fructose

Science Line on Vitamin Water

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