Just when you thought it was safe to hit the cereal aisle at the grocery store, comes this report. Apparently, many of these fortified breakfast cereals contain potentially unhealthy amounts of vitamin A, niacin and zinc.
Researchers on the study are suggesting that the fortified amounts of nutrients in these cereals are calculated for adults and not children. Thus, what has been thought to be a healthy choice for our children is actually turning out to be a potentially dangerous one.
The report, conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a Washington-based health research and advocacy firm, claims, "Millions of children are ingesting potentially unhealthy amounts of vitamin A, niacin and zinc, and fortified cereals are the leading source."
The report explain that because the FDA's current Daily Values for vitamin A, zinc and niacin are so out of sync with what the Institute of Medicine considers healthy for children, a single serving of some fortified foods can overexpose them to one or more of these nutrients.
The research team at EWG analyzed the Nutrition Facts panels of 1,556 cereals and identified 23 with the highest added doses. From that data, they surmised that a child age 8 or younger eating a single serving of any them would exceed IOM's safe level.
Among the worst offenders were some of most popular brands such as Kellogg's Product 19 and General Mills Total Raisin Bran.
In all, the EWG research found that 114 cereals contain 30 percent or more of the adult Daily Value (DV) of either vitamin A, zinc or niacin in a single serving. Some of the cereals tested contained two of the three nutrients at 30 percent or more of the adult Daily Value.
"Children who eat cereals that are high in one or more of these three nutrients along with other fortified foods and/or supplements could easily be overexposed," the study added. "American children and adults often eat more than a single serving of cereal daily because many manufacturers list unrealistically small serving sizes on the Nutrition Facts label. Many cereals list a serving size of 30 grams, corresponding to ¾ cup or 1 cup, but both food industry and academic studies have found that many children eat much larger amounts in a single sitting."
In response to the EWG study's findings, Kellogg representative Kris Charles said in a released statement, "The findings disregarded a great deal of the nutrition science and consumption data showing that without fortification of foods such as ready-to-eat cereals, many children would not get enough vitamins and minerals in their diets."