Many Preschoolers Are Short on Key Vitamins

While kids learn all the letters,
parents should focuse on C and E,
linked to vitamins; © Hemera

The study conducted by University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers of preschool-age children living in Lincoln, Nebraska, found two-thirds of them deficient in vitamin E. Surprisingly, one-third of the children also were not getting enough vitamin C, commonly found in such kid-friendly foods as orange juice.

Nutrition scientist Judy Driskell and her Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources colleagues tested 2- to 5-year-olds at four Lincoln day care centres. They drew blood samples from 22 ethnically diverse boys and girls to determine their vitamin E and C levels. Their parents also were interviewed to obtain dietary intakes for their children on two non-consecutive days. She found that a majority of the children were vitamin E deficient.

"Parents are eating a lot of low-fat and non-fat products, and we're finding they also give their children such things as skim milk," Driskell said. "The low-fat diet is probably associated with their being low in vitamin E." It's likely the parents' vitamin E consumption also is inadequate.

To get the vitamin E they need, she recommends that children regularly consume whole milk, nuts and seeds, regular salad dressings, and whole-grain cereals fortified with vitamins. They also need to consume plenty of citrus fruits and juices for vitamin C.

"We found one-third of our children didn't consume adequate amounts of vitamin C, which is quite unusual. Usually we don't see very much vitamin C deficiency in the United States," Driskell said.

A severe vitamin C deficiency can cause scurvy, though the children in this College of Education and Human Sciences study showed no physical signs of the disease that can cause hemorrhaging, weakness, joint pain and tooth loss.

The study also found that the children deficient in either vitamin came equally from all ethnicities, genders and ages.; Source: University of Nebraska-Lincoln