Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size

Kids Who Take Vitamins May Not Need Them

Study Shows Active Kids on Healthy Diets Are More Likely to Take Vitamins
By Caroline Wilbert
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 2, 2009 -- About one-third of American children and teens have taken supplemental vitamins in the past month, and most don't need them, according to a new study. And the children who need the vitamins the least -- those with varied diets, active lifestyles, and better access to health care -- are the most likely to take them.

The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn't recommend supplemental vitamins for healthy children over the age of 1 who have a varied diet.

The study was published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Researchers from the University of California Davis School of Medicine and University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry analyzed data on more than 10,000 children and teens 2-17 who participated in the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

As part of the study, parents filled out questionnaires and participated in interviews. Children and teens received medical examinations. About 34% of the kids had taken vitamins in the past month.

Although the researchers found that the greatest use of vitamin supplements was in underweight children, the study also shows that children who were more active, ate a healthier diet, and had better access to health care were more likely to be taking vitamins.

Children who received health care from a community health center or emergency room were less likely to use vitamin supplements compared to those who received health care from a doctor's office.

"Our study indicates that children and adolescents who may face the greatest risks for VM [vitamin and mineral] deficiencies, such as those with less healthy nutrition and activity patterns, greater obesity, lower income, lower food security, poorer health, and lower health care access, use VM supplements the least," Ulfat Shaikh, MD, MPH, and colleagues conclude.

The researchers recommend that health care providers screen children and make recommendations about whether or not vitamins are needed on an individual basis. Supplemental vitamins are often recommended for children with specific needs, such as children who have chronic diseases, eating disorders, difficulty absorbing nutrients, liver disease, or are obese and on a weight loss program.

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.

worried kid
jennifer aniston
Measles virus
sick child

Child with adhd
rl with friends
Syringes and graph illustration