Vitamin Overload in Breakfast Cereals May be Making Kids Sick

by DailyHealthPost Editorial

breakfast cereals

It is sometimes possible to have too much of a good thing.

Most water-soluble vitamins are safe in any amount, as excess that the body doesn’t use is excreted.

Fat-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, have a tendency to stick around and too much can have negative effects on the body.


For children, there is a delicate balance between what’s healthy and appropriate and what can be problematic for young, developing bodies. cereals

In a recent study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit advocacy organization, it was determined that many cereals and snack bars contain much more added vitamins and minerals than children need and, in the case of vitamin A, niacin (vitamin B3), and zinc, they can be harmful. Up to half of children under the age of 8 are consuming too much of these nutrients through fortified foods and supplements. The reason is that the fortified foods are using the adult guidelines for daily intake, not children’s. From the study:

“Food producers often fortify foods with large amounts of vitamins and minerals to make their products appear more nutritious so they will sell better. Because the Food and Drug Administration’s current dietary Daily Values for most vitamins and minerals were set in 1968 and are woefully outdated, some products may contain fortified nutrients in amounts much greater than the levels deemed safe by the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences.

“…eating fresh foods that naturally contain vitamins and minerals has significant health benefits and, with very few exceptions, has not been linked to excessive vitamin and mineral intake.”[1]

Fat-soluble, too much vitamin A can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, bone and joint pain, liver problems, coma, and death at its extreme. Excesses of niacin can cause rashes, vomiting, abdominal pain, and severe liver damage. Too much zinc compromises your immune system[2].

While it’s important to provide our children with healthy foods, we have to keep in mind that some foods contain things we may not want them to have. In addition to the added vitamins and minerals in breakfast cereal and snack bars (which are synthetic and therefore not the best source to begin with), there are loads of added sugar, preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, and genetically-modified organisms. These ingredients may outweigh any potentially healthful benefits of even whole grains and added supplements.

Many of the added nutrients in processed foods naturally occur in other foods, so supplementing them in children means they get more than we consider. Add multi-vitamin supplements (pills or liquid) that many children take, and the potential for toxicity increases.


With the current economic state, the high price of good quality food, and many people relying on public assistance, processed foods provide an attractive option. Until these conditions change, we should be demanding better from food manufacturers—it is not all about profit, it’s about food.

Given that childhood obesity has more than doubled in the last 30 years–coinciding with the increased availability and affordability of processed foods—as parents we need to take a very close look at what our children are eating. Their bodies are much more susceptible to environmental, dietary, and lifestyle adversity than adults’. They are getting plenty to eat, it seems, but the quality of what they’re eating is questionable.

EWG proposes that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should step up to address the issue of informing consumers of appropriate nutritional values of foods by updating and modifying labels to reflect child and adult guidelines. They ask that the FDA review how food manufacturers market items based on added, rather than inherent, nutrient content.

Until federal agencies and food producers respond, keep in mind that when it comes to our children’s health, we will have to take responsibility to sift through the information available and do our best for them.