Beware of Supplements for Kids

By Purpura, Gail

Dietary supplements and herbal mixtures aimed at your children may be a waste of your money -- and a threat to their health.

Dietary supplement makers advertise herbs and supplements as remedies for everything from colds and asthma to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Many of these products have not been proven to provide any benefit and, in some cases, may even present safety risks, the FTC says.

Althea Zanecosky, R.D., a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, says such supplements can be particularly harmful to children. That's because no one knows what dosage may be appropriate or how the supplements could affect growing bodies.

The FTC says consumers should never rely on just one source for information about supplements. If the information is legitimate, your pediatrician or family doctor will know about it.

Pointers for parents

  • Don’t give herbal remedies or dietary supplements other than a simple child-sized multiple vitamin to your child. 

  • Don't buy "miracle drugs" or "cure-alls."

  • Beware of money-back guarantees.

  • Avoid products available from just one source who must be paid upfront.

  • Learn about herbs or supplements from reputable sources.

  • Consult your doctor before you change your child's diet.

  • Check on supplements' side effects and potential food and drug interactions.

Medical Reviewer: [Fiveash, Laura DrPH, MPH, RD, Godsey, Cynthia M.S., M.S.N., APRN, Harrell, Jennifer MA, RD, LD, Lambert, J.G. M.D., Lesperance, Leann MD] Last Annual Review Date: 2009-10-27T00:00:00-06:00 Copyright: © Health Ink & Vitality Communications

Your Guide to Dietary Supplements