Posted: Mar 18, 2014 7:00 AM
 
Yet another reason to carefully read ingredient labels (and ignore marketing): America's most popular children's vitamin contains known toxins and substances listed as "hazardous" in the European Union.

At this point, it should be clear that terms like "natural," "low fat," "whole" and even "free range" or "cage free" are insufficient indicators of a food's healthfulness. But when labels announce something like "Number 1 pediatrician recommended," it's difficult to imagine a product that's not good for our kids.

And yet, one of the most popular children's vitamins in America advertises itself as exactly that and contains ingredients known or suspected to cause health problems. It even contains at least one ingredient listed as "hazardous" in the European Union. Here is a partial list of questionable ingredients found in these vitamins. (Full ingredient list can be found here.)

Aspartame

Though hotly debated around the internet, this artificial sweetener has been associated with more "40 adverse health effects in the biomedical literature, and has been shown to exhibit both neurotoxicity and carcinogenicity" (source). This is not a risk I'm willing to take with my own health or my children's.

Artificial colors

Though found in countless "foods" in the U.S., the EU has placed regulations (labeling to warn consumers) on products with synthetic colors due to the potential health risks of these substances. For a list of studies linking artificial dyes to hyperactivity and ADHD in children, click here.

Hydrogenated soybean oil

Hydrogenated oils are widely known as some of the worst types of fats for our bodies. They have been linked to "adverse health effects from coronary artery disease to cancer, violent behavior to fatty liver disease" (source). Though clearly found in small amounts in vitamins, I'm not sure I understand what they're doing in a "health" product at all.

Ferrous fumarate

"Ferrous fumarate is an industrial mineral and not found in nature as food" (source). Used as a source of iron in these vitamins, this mineral is potentially fatal if consumed in large enough doses. In fact, there is even a warning on vitamins containing this mineral: "Keep this product out reach of children. In case of accidental overdose, call a doctor or poison control center immediately" (source).

Cupric oxide

"According to the European Union's Dangerous Substance Directive, one of the main EU laws concerning chemical safety, cupric oxide is listed as a hazardous substance, classified as both 'Harmful (XN)' and 'Dangerous for the environment'" (source). What's it doing in a children's vitamin, and why does America consume so many substances banned or listed as hazardous in other countries?

While I'm sure none of these substances is occurring in doses high enough to pose a risk to my child's health, I am more interested in limiting all exposure to artificial sweeteners, colors and hydrogenated fats. To that end, I will be looking for natural vitamins without these substances. For a list of natural kid vitamin options, click here, but don't forget, the best source of vitamins is healthy food itself.

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