- 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. I mean, #wtf. 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.
So what should you buy instead? What’s the healthiest multivitamin 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 some 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.
Note: ALL of the vitamins I recommend below do NOT contain gelatin. They are all vegetarian friendly!
- Children’s Best Complete Multivitamin (you can learn more here)
- Rainbow Light (this comes in powdered form)
- The Honest Company
- 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
- Super Mini Multi
- Bluebonnet Super Earth
- 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. What I do avoid is “stevia extract” 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
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)
- Children’s Advanced – no sugar added and you can use it starting at 1 year of age
- 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
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 like Nature’s Nutra because of its super clean ingredients list!
For Omega 3s: 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!
For Vitamin D: 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 another great option, UpSpring makes a pure vitamin D with only coconut oil added.
For Probiotics: 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). Two other probiotic options that I like are 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).
- 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! Pending response from the company, I’m moving it down here for now!)
- 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!
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!