Almost three quarters of Australian expectant mothers (73%) purchase food supplements, according to Roy Morgan research.
Quoting that research, the Complementary Healthcare Council of Australia (CHC) executive director, Dr Wendy Morrow, said supplements were important complements to normal diets, even those of children.
But Dr Morrow emphasised that supplementation was no substitute for healthy eating, something consumers understood.
“From consumer research the CHC commissioned in 2011, we are increasingly seeing that consumers do know what complementary medicine products they are buying and why and this can also be translated into parents buying products for their children,” said Dr Morrow.
“Claims recently made in the media about vitamin supplementation being unnecessary or even dangerous for children are alarming for parents and may intimidate them into moving away from supplementing their child’s diet where they may have a genuine need for it.”
“Parents know their children and what they do and do not eat and therefore should be trusted, in conjunction with advice from a healthcare professional, to make the best decision on their child’s health, she went on to say.”
She added: “Getting a healthy diet filled with all the essential vitamins and minerals is at the cornerstone of good health, however, in reality no one eats perfectly all the time,” said Dr Morrow.
“Nutritional supplements act to fill in the gaps in a diet that is lacking in sufficient vitamins and minerals, as is often the case with fussy eaters and those with food sensitivities.”
A 2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey found while younger children aged 2-3 generally eat the recommended serves of fruit, their intake declines as they get older.
The Roy Morgan research found over one third of Australians purchased supplements in any six-month period.