Young children who dig into a bowl of fortified breakfast cereal may be getting too much of a good thing when it comes to certain vitamins and minerals, a new report says.
A new report says that “millions of children are ingesting potentially unhealthy amounts” of vitamin A, zinc and niacin, with fortified breakfast cereals the leading source of the excessive intake because all three nutrients are added in amounts calculated for adults.
Outdated nutritional labeling rules and misleading marketing by food manufacturers who use high fortification levels to make their products appear more nutritious fuel this potential risk, according to the report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a Washington, D.C.-based health research and advocacy organization.
Although the Food and Drug Administration is currently updating nutrition facts labels that appear on most food packages, none of its proposed changes address the issue of over-consumption of fortified micronutrients, or that the recommended percent daily values for nutrition content that appear on the labels are based on adults,, says Renée Sharp, EWG’s director of research.
Only “a tiny, tiny percentage” of cereal packages carry nutrition labels that list age-specific daily values, Sharp says. “That’s misleading to parents and is contributing to the problem.”
The daily values for most vitamins and minerals that appear on nutrition facts labels were set by the FDA in 1968 and haven’t updated, she says, making them “wildly out-of-sync” with currently recommended levels deemed safe by the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences.
Getting adequate amounts of all three nutrients is needed to maintain health and prevent disease, but the report says that routinely ingesting too much vitamin A can, over time, lead to health issues such as liver damage and skeletal abnormalities. . High zinc intakes can impair copper absorption and negatively affect red and white blood cells and immune function, and consuming too much niacin can cause short-term symptoms such as rash, nausea and vomiting, the report says.
When combining food intake and vitamin supplements, the report calculates that more than 10 million American children are getting too much vitamin A; more than 13 million get excessive too much zinc; and nearly 5 million get too much niacin.
•23 cereals with added fortification of one or more of the nutrients in amounts “much greater” than the levels deemed safe for children age 8 and younger by the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences.
Most processed foods we buy are enriched. Bakery items are, for the most part, enriched. Here are three links that explain how vitamin A, B3, and zinc are absorbed, and their toxicity:
Vitamin B3 on WebMD
Vitamin A on American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Zinc on National Health Institutes (NIH)
Curated from www.wusa9.com