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</P> You feed your children a vegetarian diet, but are their vitamin supplements vegetarian based as well? It's easy to pick up a bottle of popular cartoon character vitamins, thinking that it doesn't contain any animal products.

Children's vitamins

You feed your children a vegetarian diet, but are their vitamin supplements vegetarian based as well? It's easy to pick up a bottle of popular cartoon character vitamins, thinking that it doesn't contain any animal products. After all, the label should tell you everything you need to know, right?

The list of ingredients on a vitamin bottle doesn't give you the whole story, so you need to know your stuff. The problem with commercial vitamins is that they may contain animal products like pork or beef fat, used to make the gelatin that binds the ingredients in the pills Also, vitamin D3 is derived from lanolin, or sheep's wool, so look for other sources, like D2 which are more likely to be vegan in nature.

You can find true vegetarian children's multivitamins at specialty health food stores. Make sure that the vitamin and mineral mix doesn't contain iron (unless recommended by your doctor) and that the bottle has a childproof cap. Young children can sometimes mistake the vitamins for candy and suffer a fatal iron overdose if too many of the pills are consumed. Remember to keep all medication safely out of reach.

DBPs and birth defects

The smell of perfume and nail polish can sometimes be so overwhelming, you've probably wondered if some of the ingredients are harmful to your health. If you're pregnant or planning to conceive, they may be particularly harmful.

According to a report by the Environmental Working Group, a long list of beauty products contain a chemical called dibutyl phthalate (DBP), an additive that makes scents last longer, allows body lotion to be more deeply absorbed, and makes nail polish flexible and resistant to chipping. A study by the Centers for Disease Control showed that DBPs were present in all 289 adults tested. Women of childbearing age were found to have DBP levels up to 20 times higher, possibly because they use more beauty products. That could spell trouble if you're pregnant. Laboratory tests have shown that the offspring of animals exposed to DBP in utero had more birth defects, particularly of the male reproductive system.

Environmental groups are calling for the elimination of DBPs in all products since safer alternatives are available. However, you may not find dibutyl phthalate listed on labels because it's not required. For brand names of phthalate and phthalate-free cosmetics, visit nottoopretty.org.

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