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One sees many misleading advertisements both in the print and electronic media. The marketing department is often under pressure to increase sales so they come up with gimmicks and distorted facts to push up sales. Often pharmaceutical companies advertise the intake of vitamins to make a child smarter, or to increase his appetite, or to make him put on weight and height and be healthy.

There are many vitamin facts for kids which are mostly unknown by the parents. Extra doses of vitamins will not turn a child into a genius. Intelligence depends upon many factors like genetics, nutrition and above all a stimulating environment. When a child is given nutritious food it will contain many vitamins, minerals and proteins which are needed for brain cells. So taking extra vitamins has no direct bearing on intelligence and there is no “intelligence vitamin”. These are not required in large quantities. If the requirement of these essential nutrients is not met through food, then extra vitamins may be needed.

Another thing that is much stressed upon is that thin children are so because they have a deficiency of vitamins. This is far from the truth. A child can have a particular constitution and body structure due to genes. If the child is thin, it does not mean that he is not healthy. He has to be tested on the parameters of height and weight being commensurate with age. The height and weight of the parents can serve as a guideline because the genes he gets from them will determine or influence many things.

Conversely, a fat child cannot be guaranteed to be healthy. Since he has a large body he requires more nutrition and may often be lacking in vitamins and be anaemic. When children are born, they get iron and vitamin stores from the mother. As the child grows fairly quickly, he will require extra folic acid, iron and Vitamin C. if the child is active and developing well, then these are probably the only extra things he requires.

Some children are poor eaters naturally and giving them extra vitamins will not increase their appetite. If a child who has a normal appetite suddenly starts to refuse food, then a doctor must be consulted to find out if he is suffering from any disease. Many common ailments like sore throat, teething, flu, and stomach problems cause a loss of appetite. These must be treated and not extra doses of vitamins forced on the child.

In fact, excessive intake of some vitamins causes a loss of appetite. Vitamin C is sour and excessive doses can cause a sour stomach. Even for adults, only prescribed doses of vitamins should be taken. Higher doses will not increase energy or ward off sickness.