Back in May 2013, Natural News posted an article most parents would be interested in reading. They revealed that Flintstones vitamins, a fond childhood memory for most and the #1 children’s vitamin in the US contained not only aspartame, a potentially dangerous sugar substitute, but also a plethora of other dangerous additives. However, the mainstream media did not pick up the story. In fact, only one well-known news outlet mentioned the story, MSN news, which referred to the suggestion as a “rumor.” Well, it isn’t a rumor.
The Flintstones vitamin website provides ingredients for Flintstones Complete as follows:
“Granulated Calcium Carbonate (Calcium Carbonate, Dextrose Monohydrate, Sugar, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Maltodextrin), Sorbitol, Sodium Ascorbate, Ferrous Fumarate, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Pregelatinized Starch, Gelatin, Vitamin E Acetate, Stearic Acid, Corn Starch; Less Than 2% Of: Aspartame†, Beta-Carotene, Biotin, Calcium Pantothenate, Cupric Oxide, FD&C Blue #2 Aluminum Lake, FD&C Red #40 Aluminum Lake, FD&C Yellow #6 Aluminum Lake, Folic Acid, Magnesium Stearate, Niacinamide, Potassium Iodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Silicon Dioxide, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol), Zinc Oxide. “
Aspartame likely jumps off that list at you, that’s because aspartame is one of the most highly controversial and studied food additives in existence. It’s an artificial sweetener known to be 200 times sweeter than sugar. Most recognized health organizations, such as the FDA and World Health Organization (WHO), have deemed aspartame safe in regulated amounts based on current research. Countless studies have suggested otherwise with side effects ranging from headache to brain tumors, but these studies have been suggested to be flawed in numerous ways and so discounted. As a parent, I place aspartame in the “questionable” pile of additives best avoided. Why is aspartame in a child’s multi-vitamin though? According to the Flinstone vitamin website:
“The aspartame masks the bitter taste of calcium found in both of these formulas. Sugar would be needed in large amounts to mask such a bitter flavor and would make the tablet too large.”
Then why do Flintstone vitamins also contain sugar and sorbitol, yet another artificial sweetener, one that has been successfully used as rocket fuel? Why is a product with two artificial sweeteners and actual sugar being marketed as a healthy nutritional supplement for children?
Even ignoring the vague “artificial flavors” which could be just about anything, artificial sweeteners aren’t the only questionable ingredients in Flintstone vitamins.
Cupric Oxide: Cupric oxide is a form of copper often used in ceramic glazes for pottery coloring. The MSDS on cupric oxide lists nervous system depression, possible circulatory system failure, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, possible vascular collapse and kidney, liver and vascular failure as possible risks of ingestion. While the human body does require copper, hence, its presence in a multivitamin, cupric oxide was shown to have extremely poor absorption rates in a study by the American Society of Nutritional Sciences. So poor, in fact, that it’s use was discontinued in animal dietary supplements as a source of dietary copper.
Food dyes: FD&C Blue #2 Aluminum Lake and FD&C Yellow #6 Aluminum Lake are both food dyes made from coal tar. FD&C Red #40 Aluminum Lake is banned in numerous European countries. In 2008, the Center for Science in the Public Interest released a report entitled, “Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks” which presented research showing that food dyes can cause hyperactivity in children, increase the risk of certain cancers, and pose a high risk for allergic reactions. This report resulted in the phasing out of all three dyes found in Flintstone vitamins throughout most of the world, except America where the FDA voted to keep the food dyes approved in the US. There are natural food dye alternatives that are not known to pose any health risks.
As a parent who has used Flintstone vitamins, both for my own children and as a child, I was dismayed to discover this information. I also would not say Flinstone vitamins are the only food or supplement aimed at children to be guilty of using such food additives. It should also be noted that with a balanced diet, a daily multi-vitamin is not necessary for most children, though in some regions certain supplementation may prove beneficial such as Vitamin D in parts of the world where sunlight can sometimes be scarce-Alaska for example. Nonetheless, that a “pediatrician recommended” nutritional supplement for kids contains potentially dangerous additives is hopefully a revelation for parents. You really should read labels and learn what additives to avoid beyond the hype.
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