Earns top marks for not tasting fishy despite presence of omega-3 fish oil. Safe for kids with most allergies – gluten, casein, and nut-free. No synthetic colors, sweeteners, flavors or preservatives. Kids rave about fruity flavor.
Gelatin contains pork. Not the best choice for vegans or those who keep kosher.
Kids give these an A+ for taste and chewiness. Free of most allergens including eggs, dairy and fish. Natural colors and flavors. Recommended by pediatricians. Amazing value.
High in sugar and lacking iron.
Orange-flavored liquid can be mixed with juice or milk for picky eaters. Has a great taste. Contains 14 vitamins. Sugar and gluten free. Low in carbs and calories.
Must be refrigerated after opening.
Parents rave the vitamin's tiny size. Easy for toddlers to swallow. Can be chewed as well. Loaded with probiotics that aid digestion. Boosts immunity to keep children healthy. Long shelf life.
More expensive than regular multivitamins.
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Kids are picky. They refuse vegetables. They only eat foods that are white or don’t touch each other on the plate or aren’t cooked into a recipe with more than two ingredients. That’s why a lot of children can benefit from a good multivitamin specifically formulated for kids.
There are a lot of children’s multivitamins out there, however, and choosing the right one for your child can be confusing. How do you find the best multivitamin to meet your child’s daily nutritional needs?
At BestReviews, our top product recommendations and comprehensive shopping guides make finding the best products for your home easy. Whether your kid prefers fruit-flavored gummies or a liquid vitamin, keep reading for what you need to know about multivitamins for kids.
While most adult multivitamins come in tablet form, kids have more options. Along with tablets, you’ll find chewables, often in kid-pleasing shapes like dinosaurs, cartoon characters, or animals. You’ll also find gummies, which have a candy-like appearance and taste, and even pudding-textured vitamins. Liquid multivitamins are great for kids who struggle or refuse to swallow tablets.
The best choice for your child is the multivitamin that he is willing to take on a daily basis, although some nutritional experts caution against giving kids vitamins that closely resemble candy.
There are 13 essential vitamins and 16 essential minerals. Few multivitamins contain all of them, but a good multivitamin for kids should have the most important vitamins and minerals, which include calcium, vitamin E, vitamin D, the B vitamins, and vitamin A. Many multivitamins contain far more vitamins and minerals, of course, but what’s important is that the multivitamin your child takes does not contain a higher level of any vitamin or mineral than the recommended daily allowance, which varies based on age and gender. That’s why it’s important to choose a multivitamin suited to your child’s age and then give her only the recommended serving.
While adults can sometimes safely take megadoses of vitamins, children’s bodies are not as equipped to deal with an overdose of vitamins, particularly fat-soluble vitamins A, E, D, and K, which build up in the liver and fatty tissues of the body. Of particular concern is too much iron, which in very high doses can cause iron toxicity. Symptoms include abdominal pain, fever, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, and diarrhea. That’s why many multivitamins for kids contain no iron at all or only a small amount.
It’s also important to be aware that most multivitamins for kids don’t contain 100% of the recommended daily allowance for every vitamin and mineral on the ingredient list. Often you’ll find that the multivitamin contains only 10% or 15% of many essential vitamins and minerals. Ideally, your child’s diet provides the balance of these nutrients, but if not, make sure to choose a multivitamin with a higher level of the vitamins and minerals most important for your child’s health. If you aren’t sure, ask your pediatrician for recommendations.
If you’re wondering if your child needs a daily multivitamin, ask yourself these questions.
Is your child vegan? A multivitamin that includes zinc, calcium, iron, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 is a good idea.
Is your child exceptionally picky? Go for a multivitamin that includes the widest range of vitamins and minerals.
Are dairy products a problem? If your child can’t tolerate or refuses dairy, consider giving him a multivitamin for the extra calcium and vitamin D.
Does your child hate fruits and vegetables? If your child refuses vegetables – a fairly common issue – or other entire food groups, go ahead and give her a daily multivitamin to fill in the gaps.
Does your child have a chronic digestive issue or malabsorption disorder? If so, talk to your pediatrician about whether or not a multivitamin is a good idea.
Is your child’s diet restricted due to food allergies? If your child cannot eat a wide range of foods due to allergies or other medical issues, it’s a good idea to ask your pediatrician about multivitamins.
Does your child eat too much junk food? A treat is one thing, but if sugary, fatty, or processed foods make up the bulk of your little one’s diet, go ahead and slip in a daily multivitamin.
Does your child regularly play sports? Young athletes generally benefit from additional iron, vitamin D, and calcium.
Does your child drink a lot of soda? Along with a hefty dose of empty calories and lots of sugar, soda tends to interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium, which is not good for growing bones. Look for a multivitamin with plenty of calcium.
While vitamins and minerals make up the majority of a multivitamin’s ingredient list, there are a few other nutrients to look for that benefit many children.
Too little fiber and your child is likely to end up constipated. This is a common problem for kids who don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, which are one of the best sources of dietary fiber, along with whole grains, legumes, and nuts. If this is an issue for your child, consider adding a multivitamin that contains fiber to his daily intake.
Omega-3 fatty acids are primarily found in fish, something a lot of kids refuse to eat. If your child falls into that group, it might be a good idea to choose a multivitamin with omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for heart health and brain development.
While it might seem like a bad idea to intentionally populate your intestines with bacteria, it’s necessary for your gut to be inhabited by good bacteria such as Lactobacillus. Probiotics help keep your child’s digestive system regular, and they are an especially good addition to a multivitamin for a child who frequently experiences constipation or diarrhea.
Along with a good balance of vitamins and minerals, there are a few other considerations when choosing a kid’s multivitamin.
Ingredients to avoid
Watch out for the many children’s multivitamins that are loaded with sugar. Instead, choose a multivitamin with only fruit flavoring or a small amount of added sugar. There should be no more than three grams of sugar per serving and definitely no high-fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners.
While many children’s multivitamins are cheerily colored, those happy hues shouldn’t be artificial. Avoid multivitamins that contain artificial colors.
If your child has a dietary allergy, such as eggs, nuts, soy, corn, or dairy, check the multivitamin’s ingredient list to be sure it is free of potential problems.
Because of the risk of iron poisoning, many children’s multivitamins do not include this mineral. You’ll need to be sure your child gets enough iron from dietary sources, such as meat, spinach, enriched cereal, whole grains, seafood, and nuts. If your child’s multivitamin does contain iron, it should be a low dose far below the recommended daily allowance.
Most multivitamins for kids that come in tablet form are fairly small, but if your child has trouble swallowing pills, go for a liquid or chewable multivitamin instead.
It’s hard to convince a child to take a vitamin that tastes bad. That’s why most children’s multivitamins are fruit-flavored. As long as the flavor comes from natural ingredients, not artificial flavoring, go ahead and choose multivitamins your child will willingly take.
Some kids are more willing to take a multivitamin if it has a fun shape. As long as it’s a quality multivitamin that suits your child’s needs, go ahead and buy whatever shape he likes best.
There’s no need to spend a bundle on your children’s multivitamins. You can find good-quality, balanced multivitamins for kids without artificial flavors, sugars, or colors for $20 or less per bottle.
Q. Can’t I just give my child the same multivitamin I take?
A. As a general rule, no. Children require different amounts of the essential vitamins and minerals than adults do. Giving your child an adult multivitamin, particularly if your child is younger than five, might overdose her on iron or fat-soluble vitamins. Stick with children’s formulations of vitamins until your kids are well into their teens.
Q. Is it better for my child to take a multivitamin with food or on an empty stomach?
A. While not critical either way, many multivitamins absorb better with some food in the belly, so go ahead and give your child the multivitamin with breakfast or dinner.
Q. Are multivitamins safe for kids?
A. As long as you choose a product formulated for your child’s age group and only give as directed, multivitamins are safe for most children. However, if your child suffers from a chronic illness or generally poor health, check with your pediatrician before giving him a multivitamin.