Hands off gummy bears with melatonin for children

Three questions for Angela Clausen, consultant for food in the health market at the NRW consumer advice center

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Hands off gummy bears with melatonin for children

A recent trend on social media has prompted pediatricians to issue a warning: Parents should not give their children food supplements containing the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, especially not in the form of gummy bears. Angela Clausen, expert for food in the health market at the NRW consumer advice center, explains why food supplements are problematic and what children should be aware of.

Why are melatonin gummy bears risky?

Melatonin is a hormone and is only used as a prescription drug for very specific sleep disorders. As a dietary supplement, it can possibly minimally shorten the time it takes to fall asleep, but in children in particular it can completely disrupt the circadian rhythm - i.e. the internal clock. Before Christmas, the German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine (DGSM) warned against the thoughtless intake of melatonin, especially in the form of sweets such as jelly babies. Melatonin is also available as tablets, sprays, teas or drops. In the USA, there have been reports of infant deaths possibly linked to melatonin overdoses. A fruit gum form in particular can lead to overdoses, as the bears are perceived and eaten as sweets. And unlike medicines, manufacturers of food supplements do not have to provide information about contraindications, side effects and interactions on the package leaflet.

What should generally be considered with food supplements for children?

Food supplements are intended to supplement food as needed, nothing more. You should be very careful, especially with children, so as not to upset the fine control cycles of the metabolism. This is particularly important because many children's food supplements contain very high doses. They should therefore not be given on their own, but only after an examination and consultation with a pediatrician. This also applies when influencers report that they can get their own children to sleep in less than five minutes thanks to melatonin or that they finally sleep through the night and that the little bears can be finely chopped and given to even the youngest children.

Why shouldn't adults take food supplements just like that?

Metabolism can also be disturbed in adults. It has recently been reported that people have developed a copper deficiency because they have taken too high a dose of zinc. There are also increasing reports of cases of vitamin D poisoning. If you want to take food supplements, you should be aware of what they can and cannot do and make sure that the dosage is not higher than recommended by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment. Food supplements are the wrong choice for treating ailments or even illnesses.

Note: This article has been translated using a computer system without human intervention. LUMITOS offers these automatic translations to present a wider range of current news. Since this article has been translated with automatic translation, it is possible that it contains errors in vocabulary, syntax or grammar. The original article in German can be found here.

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