If you are one of many parents who bought Disney or Marvel
Heroes vitamins or mineral gummy products for your kids, you may be owed a
Charged by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for making false and
unsupported claims about the amount of DHA in their products, the manufacturers have
agreed to dole out over two million dollars in refunds. Announced Tuesday, the refund stems from a settlement made in December
The FTC charged NBTY, Inc. and
subsidiary companies NatureSmart LLC and Rexall Sundown, Inc. with making
“false and unsupported claims that the Disney and Marvel Heroes line of
multivitamins contained a significant amount of DHA” and “promoted healthy
brain and eye development in children.”
DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is an omega-3 fatty acid found
in fish such as salmon, halibut, tuna, herring and mackerel. Although your kid may not like eating it, the
American Heart Association recommends two servings of fish--preferably fatty
While omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to have a myriad
of health benefits, according
to the Mayo Clinic, “well designed research is necessary before a clear
conclusion can be reached” about its effects on infant eye and brain
The packaging implied that the vitamins had a significant
amount of DHA and would promote healthy brain and eye development in kids, but
the health benefits described were for 100 milligrams of DHA, and the vitamins
for children 4 years and older only had about 100 micrograms, only one-thousandth of the amount which would produce the described benefits.
vitamins designed for 2 to 4 year olds only had 50 micrograms, or five
ten-thousands of the amount referred to on the packaging and product
advertising. The FTC further stated that the brain and eye health benefits promoted on the prodcuts' packaging were not supported by scientific evidence.
The vitamins and mineral gummy products, which featured
characters such as Spiderman, Nemo, Wall-e, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and the
Disney Princesses, were sold for $4 to $8 at drugstore.com and other online
vendors and in stores including CVS Pharmacy, Walmart, Target, Walgreens,
Kroger, Kmart, Meijer, and Rite Aid.
If you bought these vitamins between May 1, 2008 and September 30, 2010, you can file a claim online, or call 866-224-4336 to request a paper claim form, which will be mailed to you. The claim must be filed by October 12, 2012.
What can parents do
to help brain and eye development?
Simply being outside has a significant effect on vision.
Kids who play outdoors have better vision than those who spend most of their
time indoors staring at a screen. As I’ve reported
previously, a study published in Optometry
and Vision Science found that nearsighted American kids averaged 4.3 fewer
hours outside each week than children with normal eyesight and watched much
As for brain development, a 2009
study shows that kids with the highest level of cardiovascular fitness have
a tendency to have higher IQs, so make sure they’re running, swimming, or
playing sports such as basketball or soccer.
And, as always, a balanced diet with adequate levels of
vitamin Cs and E, beta-carotene and zinc is important—so make sure to include
fruits and vegetables in your kids’ meals.