The Healthiest Children’s Vitamins: 2020This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure.
Are you looking for the healthiest children’s vitamins on the market today? This post (which I update monthly) will help you find the best one for your child! Note: If you’re looking for the best adult vitamins, go to this post.
Kids Vitamins can be confusing. There are so many questions: Is there a such thing as an “unhealthy” kids vitamin? Do you need a vitamin with iron? Which vitamins are the best? Do kids even need vitamins at all?
A lot of these questions can be really overwhelming because there is so much information out there! So I did a bunch of research and found the healthiest kids vitamins out there today. This is your guide for the best multivitamins for kids: what to buy, what not to buy, and what to look out for!
First of all, do kids even need vitamins to begin with?
Most pediatricians will tell you that it’s not necessary for most healthy children who are growing normally (source). For kids who eat well and eat a variety of food, they can get all of the nutrients they need from whole foods. But many kids are very picky, or don’t eat a lot of food, or aren’t growing well, and that makes a lot of parents worried that they aren’t getting the nutrients they need! In those cases, I’d recommend talking to your pediatrician, and if they suggest giving your child a multivitamin then definitely do so.
When buying a multivitamin, what should you look for?
Kids multivitamins generally come in two groups: 1) With Iron and 2) Without Iron. You should buy a multivitamin that doesn’t exceed 100% daily value of most of the vitamins for your child’s age group – primarily Vitamins A, E and K (that will be indicated by the label on the back). The exception here is for Vitamin C and other water-soluble vitamins. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin but is ok to have at more than 100% of the daily value because most people are deficient (including kids) and Vitamin D isn’t toxic unless it’s in exceptionally high doses which wouldn’t be in a daily vitamin. If the vitamin does have more than 100% of A, E and K then I would just give your child half the dose on the bottle.
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So what should you buy? What’s the healthiest children’s vitamin out there?
Luckily there are tons of options! Below is a list of my favorites: they all are made with natural ingredients, have no weird preservatives or any of the ingredients above added, and a few even derive the vitamins from organic food sources which I absolutely love because they are better absorbed by the body that way. Most of these will have a tiny bit of cane sugar or fructose added, but as long as it’s less than 4g per serving it’s not a huge issue. A few vitamins on the list (like Llama Naturals Organic Gummies) are 100% organic and free of ALL allergens as well!
Note: ALL of the vitamins I recommend below do NOT contain gelatin. They are all vegetarian friendly!
The Healthiest Children’s Multivitamins with Iron
- Children’s Best Complete Multivitamin (you can learn more here)
- Raise Them Well
- Zarbee’s Naturals (this comes in liquid form and can be used from 2 months of age)
- Zarbee’s Naturals Gummies
- Thorne Research (Note: Also good for kids with MTHFR mutations)
- Vitamin Friends Gummies
- Bluebonnet Super Earth
- The Honest Company
The Healthiest Children’s Multivitamins without Iron
- Llama Naturals Organic Gummies
- First Day
- Klaire Labs
- Garden of Life – There is stevia added here, but it’s listed as “Organic Stevia Leaf” – which is the only form of Stevia I’m ok with (also can be listed as “organic whole leaf stevia” or “whole leaf stevia extract”). What I do avoid is “rebaudioside a or stevia extract” which could literally mean anything and have anything added to it.
- Garden of Life Gummy Vitamin
- Mega Foods Kids Daily Multivitamin Booster – a powdered form of their vitamin.
- OLLY Kids Super Foods Multivitamin – Note: if you’re looking for a probiotic + multivitamin in one, OLLY Kids has this option – but it does have gelatin in it so it’s not vegetarian friendly.
- Smarty Pants Toddler Multivitamin
- Smarty Pants Kids Multivitamin (with omega 3s and probiotics added!)
- Zarbees Toddler Multivitamin
- Zarbees Children’s Multivitamin (This one also has probiotics included!)
- Pure Encapsulations
The Healthiest Children’s Liquid Vitamins Without Iron
- ChildLife – it’s a little higher in sugar than I’d like, but you can start using it at 6 months of age (the other two options are for older kids)
- Bio Naturals – this one has no sugar added, has a probiotic added and you can use it starting at 1 year of age. It does have “natural flavors” which is not ideal, but I haven’t found a liquid vitamin with probiotics that has a cleaner ingredients list yet!
- Premium Children’s – no sugar added and you can use it starting at 4 years of age
- Tropical Oasis – sweetened with xylitol (just note that’s a sugar alcohol) and you can use it starting at 4 years of age
The Healthiest Children’s Iron Only Supplement
An iron-only supplement is a good option if you go with a multivitamin without iron, because it will add the iron missing from those vitamins back into your child’s diet. I generally recommend supplementing with iron if your child has been tested and is iron-deficient (otherwise supplementing with iron is not necessary for most kids). The two best iron-only supplements are:
- Nature’s Nutra because of relatively its super clean ingredients list.
- Gaia Herbs: Use for older children (or with pediatrician’s approval for babies) – it has the cleanest ingredients list I’ve found and is nonGMO!
The Healthiest Children’s Omega 3 Supplements
The primary Omega 3 supplement I’d recommend for kids is Nordic Naturals. They have an infant DHA supplement and a children’s DHA supplement – both of which are extremely pure, has no added preservatives or sugar, and are in liquid form so they can be added to just about anything! ChildLife Cod Liver Oil is also a good option for kids starting at 6 months of age!
The healthiest children’s vitamin D supplement
If you’re just looking for a Vitamin D supplement – e.g. in the winter, I love (and use) these Vitamin D Drops. There is literally nothing added to them (no flavors, colors, etc.). They are liquid and you only need one drop in your child’s milk per day. They’re marketed for infants, but you can use them for any age. Super easy, tasteless and pure. For two other great options, Raise them Well and UpSpring makes a pure vitamin D with only coconut oil added.
The Healthiest Probiotics Supplements for Kids
I love Garden of Life’s line of probiotics – they are shipped cold and their powdered kids probiotic can be added to your child’s drink (milk, water, etc.). They also have a kids’ chewable probiotic if you need an option that doesn’t require refrigeration (but it does have maltodextrin). Three other probiotic options that I like are Klaire Labs, PROKids and Dr. MK’s Natural Probiotic (the only caveat with Dr. MK’s is that it’s sweetened with sorbitol which is a sugar alcohol).
What ingredients should be avoided in kids vitamins?
It’s also important to look for the ingredients that are added to the tablet that aren’t vitamins. Ingredients like: Sorbitol, carrageenan, artificial colors and flavors (like Red #40), aspartame, sucralose, to name a few! You definitely don’t want to be dosing your child with these ingredients on a daily basis along with their multivitamin.
So let’s start with what not to buy: The answer here is most of the commercially available, leading brands of multivitamins. The biggest offender of which is Flinstones Chewable Vitamins.
What’s crazy is that on the label, Flinstones calls out that they are “Pediatrician’s #1 Choice.” And most people do buy Flinstones vitamins! I even remember eating them when I was a kid. They tasted so good! It was like a treat every morning. And if you are giving your kids Flinstones vitamins right now, don’t feel bad! You are not alone, and thanks to all of the deceptive marketing out there, there’s no way you’d know that Flinstones isn’t the best choice for any child. Before doing all of this research I didn’t realize how problematic they were, and why it’s important to switch away from them.
The reason they are problematic, is because there are a ridiculous number of offensive ingredients in Flinstones Vitamins that truly, should not be there at all, and are not necessary. Take a look at two of their best sellers (I’ve highlighted in bold all of the ingredients to avoid):
#1 |Flinstones Chewable Vitamins with Iron: Sorbitol, Mannitol, Fructose, Sodium Ascorbate, Ferrous Fumarate, Silicon Dioxide, Carrageenan, Natural and Artificial Flavors, FD&C Red #40 Lake; Less Than 2% Of: Aspartame†, BetaCarotene, Cholecalciferol, Cyanocobalamin, D-Calcium Pantothenate, dl-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, FD&C Blue #2 Lake, FD&C Yellow #6 Lake, Folic Acid, Magnesium Stearate, Niacinamide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Soy Lecithin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Acetate.
#2 | Flinstones Chewable Complete: Granulated Calcium Carbonate (Calcium Carbonate, Dextrose Monohydrate, Sugar, Maltodextrin, Microcrystalline Cellulose), Sorbitol, Sodium Ascorbate, Ferrous Fumarate, Natural and Artificial Flavoring, Pregelatinized Starch, dl-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate; Less Than 2% Of: Beta-Carotene, Biotin, Calcium Pantothenate, Cholecalciferol, Cupric Oxide, Cyanocobalamin, FD&C Blue #2 Lake, FD&C Red #40 Lake, FD&C Yellow #6 Lake, Folic Acid, Gelatin, Magnesium Oxide, Magnesium Stearate, Mono- and Diglycerides, Niacinamide, Potassium Iodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Phytonadione, Riboflavin, Silicon Dioxide, Soy Lecithin, Sucralose, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Acetate, Zinc Oxide.
Why are these ingredients bad? Let’s take them one by one:
- Sorbitol and Mannitol are sugar alcohols. They have been known to cause digestive issues and discomfort in some people because they can’t be digested properly by the body.
- Carrageenan is an emulsifier that thickens products, but it has been linked to high levels of inflammation in the body, digestive issues, etc.
- Maltodextrin: this is an indicator that the food is highly processed. It’s used as a thickener, filler, or preservative in many processed foods, and it can cause spikes in your blood sugar because it has a high glycemic index.
- Natural and Artificial Colors – Red #40, Blue #2, Yellow #6. What are these doing in a kids vitamin? These are so problematic and have been linked to all kinds of health problems including allergies, hyperactivity, learning impairment, irritability and aggressiveness.
- Artificial flavors – also highly processed and unnecessary in a kids vitamin.
- Aspartame and Sucralose – this is what diet sodas are sweetened with, and are highly controversial. Research hasn’t proven one way or the other whether they lead to long term health issues, but it has been proven that they cause an insulin-response by the body (because your body thinks you are eating sugar when you are not – source). If you wouldn’t give your child a diet coke, you shouldn’t give them a vitamin with this in it!
- Mono- and Diglycerides is one of the most widely used emulsifers to keep oil and fat from separating. It’s just an indicator that the food is processed.
- Oh, and gelatin. While this isn’t a harmful ingredient, it kind of sucks for any vegetarians or vegans out there who are giving their kids this vitamin without knowing that it’s not actually veggie-friendly.
Runner Ups / Children’s Supplements that are borderline
- Solgar. This is one I’d get only if you can’t find any of the other ones on the list above, because while most of the ingredients are good, it does have carrageenan which – as I mentioned – it’s better to avoid.
- YummiBears Organic Multivitamin (note: this vitamin does have cane sugar added – if you give your kids the full dose then it’s 6g sugar which is more than I would like in a vitamin)
- Seeking Health (Note: The link may say women’s/mens but the label indicates this can be used for kids aged 4 and up. It’s also good for kids with MTHFR mutations. But I am waiting for a response from the company on the prop 65 warning on its label, so I’ve moved them down here for now!)
- Natures Plus (another one that has a Prop 65 warning! This is what they have said regarding Prop 65: “Proposition 65 was passed in California in 1986 and requires the State to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm. The list includes over 800 chemicals and compounds, including some which occur naturally in the environment and some common substances that are beneficial when used in appropriate doses. In order to comply with California Proposition 65, we print a warning on every invoice being shipped into the state of California. Some of the substances on the Proposition 65 list occur naturally in both the environment and the human body and also exist naturally in many of the foods we eat. Therefore, it can be expected that trace levels of the same chemicals would be detectible in virtually all herbal and natural dietary supplement products. If you would like further information on Proposition 65 please contact The Food and Drug Administration or The Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Outreach and Information Center, maintains a consumer information hotline at the following number: Toll-Free Information Line: (888) 723-3366.”
- Nature’s Way Alive! The only downside to these is they are sweetened with sorbitol – which is a sugar alcohol that can be irritating to the digestive system. Other than that though, their ingredients look good!
- Rainbow Light (this comes in powdered form). This was on my “top vitamins” list until August 2019, when news of a class action against Rainbow Light came out because their prenatal vitamins contained heavy metals (including high levels of lead). While this class action doesn’t apply to their children’s vitamins, I’d still be wary of buying from Rainbow Light until they have rigorous heavy metal testing in place for ALL of their vitamins.
I hope this helps you in navigating the world of kids’ vitamins!
If you’re looking for healthy meal inspiration in addition to the best vitamins for your child, pick up a copy of my newest cookbook here!