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Does it feel like your child eats nothing but mac ‘n cheese and chicken tenders? Welcome to the joys of motherhood. As parents, we know how important nutrition is for our children’s development and health, making it extra stressful when your kid goes on a food strike and flat-out refuses the food you know they need.
Enter kids’ vitamins—the seemingly perfect insurance policy to ensure your kiddo meets their nutrient needs. But once you jump online, the options can feel a tad overwhelming. Aside from the sheer number of products available, it’s not always easy to separate quality vitamins from those you should probably skip.
Which is why we took the guesswork out to help you make the best choice for your family—including a dive into whether your child would actually benefit from a daily multivitamin. Below you’ll find our picks for the best vitamins for kids—plus what to look for when shopping—to help your child get the nutrients they need.
Do kids need to take vitamins?
Food should always be the foundation for your child’s nutrition. Offering a variety of foods—brightly colored produce, whole grains, proteins, and nourishing fats—from an early age provides essential vitamins and minerals and models healthy behaviors that last well into adulthood (even if they only throw the food on the floor for now). The American Academy of Pediatrics says that most children who eat balanced diets don’t need vitamin supplements.
Related: Do I need to give my baby vitamins?
So not all kids need to take vitamins, but some research (and what you’ve probably observed in your own kitchen) suggests many kids don’t eat the recommended amounts of fresh fruit and veggies.1Łuszczki E, Sobek G, Bartosiewicz A, et al. Analysis of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption by Children in School Canteens Depending on Selected Sociodemographic Factors. Medicina (Kaunas). 2019;55(7):397. Published 2019 Jul 22. doi:10.3390/medicina55070397 Picky eaters who only eat a handful of foods, or who don’t eat many fruits and veggies, may also benefit from taking a multivitamin (sometimes this only means taking a supplement short-term until your kiddo starts accepting more foods).
Kids who follow vegan or vegetarian diets and those who cannot absorb nutrients due to gut problems or specific medical conditions also need supplemental vitamins. Check in with your pediatrician if you aren’t sure, but vitamins can be helpful to fill in nutrient gaps.
What to look for in a kid’s vitamin
When choosing the best vitamins for kids, there are a few things to consider. To start, third-party testing (independent lab testing for quality and safety) checks to ensure the product is free from contaminants and that what the manufacturers say is in the product is actually there.
Check the label
Just as you’d check a food label for additives like artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors, reading a vitamin’s ingredient list can help weed out those with questionable ingredients. Dietitians, nutritionists and healthcare practitioners agree that the best kids vitamins leave these extras out.
Identify the dosage
Make sure to also check for age-appropriate dosing. A vitamin for a toddler will provide different amounts of nutrients than one for older children. Some products can be given to both age groups, but the dosage is different—important since you don’t want to give more than your child needs. Some nutrients, like the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, can be toxic in high doses.
Assess the iron content
Another nutrient of concern is iron. Many children’s vitamins purposely don’t include iron because it can be hard on the stomach or toxic in too high amounts. Your pediatrician can help identify what’s a safe level for your kiddo. If your doctor recommends an iron supplement for your child and it’s not part of their vitamin, there are special iron supplements for kids that specifically contain the mineral in an easy-to-absorb form.
Here are our 5 choices for the best vitamins for kids
Łuszczki E, Sobek G, Bartosiewicz A, et al. Analysis of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption by Children in School Canteens Depending on Selected Sociodemographic Factors. Medicina (Kaunas). 2019;55(7):397. Published 2019 Jul 22. doi:10.3390/medicina55070397
Roberts JE, Dennison J. The Photobiology of Lutein and Zeaxanthin in the Eye. J Ophthalmol. 2015;2015:687173. doi:10.1155/2015/687173
- 1Łuszczki E, Sobek G, Bartosiewicz A, et al. Analysis of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption by Children in School Canteens Depending on Selected Sociodemographic Factors. Medicina (Kaunas). 2019;55(7):397. Published 2019 Jul 22. doi:10.3390/medicina55070397