Given the growth of supplements specifically designed for children in Canada, this study examines the nutrient levels of these products, and evaluates them in light of the US Health and Medical Division (HMD)—formerly the Institute of Medicine—and Health Canada’s recommendations. Content analysis was used to document the nutrient levels of child-targeted vitamins, minerals and fish oils/omega-3s (n = 80) in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Products were assessed according to HMD and Health Canada dosage recommendations for children, and the percentage of Estimate Average Requirements (EAR), Adequate Intakes (AI), and Tolerable Upper Intakes Level (UL) calculated. Median EAR/AI/UL percentages and quartiles were calculated for each nutrient, and estimates for the adequate intake recommendations plotted with box plots. Sixty five percent of the products assessed were multivitamins; the median dose was higher than AI recommendations for vitamins A, B6, B12, and C, as well as thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and biotin. Substantial variation in vitamin, mineral, or fish oil dosage was found between similar supplements—with nutrients such as vitamin B12 ranging from 83% to 5557% of AI. Such findings matter because the very existence of these products suggests that children should be taking them, yet more research is needed on their potential (adverse) effects over both the short and long term. The substantial variation in dosages between products also raises questions about the (perhaps unnecessary) fortification of our children, as well as the expectations that parents know—or are even aware of—appropriate nutrient levels for their kids.
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