Wednesday, August 12, 2009

When Kids Lack Calcium and Vitamin D...

...feed them Trix and Lucky Charms?!

The commercial begins with two cute kids in the frame. One is trying to figure out the other's height with measuring tape; they are playing in a large kitchen. Then the fact, which is something to the effect of

"Did you know: not enough kids are getting enough calcium and vitamin D in their diet."

So what does the ad suggest? Feed your kids more vegetables (dark green leafy vegetables are a good source of calcium and salmon or tuna are excellent sources of vitamin D)? Encourage your kids to play outside during the day (sunlight is the best way to help your body produce its own vitamin D reserves)? No...

It's General Mills (GM) to the rescue! The sugar laden cereals they manufacture have added calcium and vitamin D. Didn't you know? And your kids may be fussy over collard greens or baked salmon and they love video games so much that you would be interrupting their valuable screen time to take them just feed them their favorite cereals. I'm not dissing all cereals, though I do wonder how they became such a staple in the American diet. It's just that I could think of a million things to market to increase kids intake of calcium and vitamin D, and Trix (it's for kids!) is NOT one of them.

Not to mention the fact that the universal companion to cereal (i.e. milk) has 30% of the daily recommended amount of calcium and 25% of the daily amount of vitamin D.

We've heard about the benefits of calcium a million times. But why is vitamin D so important? Vitamin D has been shown to promote bone strength and muscle growth ( thought that was the calcium?). It may even protect against some common cancers.

The Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source suggests that most adults take a vitamin D supplement (especially those in colder, northern climates). I actually just bought some vitamin D3 (1,000 IU) at the health food store today. I plan on having it on those days when I just don't get to exercise outside (winter...brr...). I'm not sure that I would give that much (400 IU/day is recommended for children).

Back to the commercial...

It aired on the Food Network around 6:30pm today, at least that is when I saw it. Will the marketing tactic work? Without communicating alternative, natural sources of calcium and vitamin D it just might.

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