Over-Fortified Cereals Risky to Kids — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
June 26, 2014

Over-Fortified Cereals Risky to Kids

By Amy Orciari Herman

Edited by Susan Sadoughi, MD, and Lorenzo Di Francesco, MD, FACP, FHM

Children who eat fortified cereals and snack bars are at risk for consuming potentially dangerous levels of niacin, vitamin A, and zinc, according to a report from the Environmental Working Group.

Upon reviewing nutrition information for over 1500 breakfast cereals and 1000 snack bars, the EWG found that nearly 115 cereals were fortified with 30% or more of the adult recommended Daily Value for niacin, vitamin A, or zinc, and about 30 snack bars were fortified with 50% or more. Such products include General Mills Total Raisin Bran, Kellogg's Cocoa Krispies, and Balance Bars.

When children eat these products, they put themselves at risk for overexposure. Among the potential side effects: excessive niacin can cause skin reactions, too much vitamin A can lead to liver damage, and excessive zinc can inhibit immune function.

The EWG calls for the FDA to mandate age-specific Daily Value information on nutrition labels. In the meantime, the group says children should consume foods with no more than 20%-25% of the adult Daily Value for these nutrients per serving.

Reader Comments (1)

William DeMedio MD Physician, Family Medicine/General Practice, Office

Please report when this "excessive overfortification" causes a problem. Food products have been fortified with vitamins and minerals for over 50 years for children, and the only problems I have been seeing are those associated with excess calories and not enough physical activity. I have not seen scurvy, beri beri, or ricketts recently in the US.

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