- 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!
- Natures Plus
- Rainbow Light (this comes in powdered form)
- The Honest Company
- Seeking Health (Note: this one has microcrystalline cellulose which I don’t love as an emulsifier because it’s made from refined wood pulp – but it’s not harmful as far as I can tell from a research standpoint – it’s not absorbed by the body so it just passes through).
- Zarbee’s Naturals (this comes in liquid form and can be used from 2 months of age)
- Thorne Research
- Garden of Life – While it doesn’t have iron, I do love this brand. I take their women’s multivitamin daily and I love it. All of their vitamins come from organic whole foods, and they don’t have anything weird added to their vitamins. They are organic, clean, and healthy. 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
- MegaFood – This is another brand that I love for vitamins. It doesn’t have iron but if you decide to go with this or Garden of Life, there is an iron-only supplement you can add to their diets!
- Mega Foods Kids Daily Multivitamin Booster – a powdered form of their vitamin.
- OLLY Kids Super Foods Multivitamin
- Zarbees Toddler Multivitamin
- SmartyPants Kids Complete Fiber Multivitamin
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
Iron Only Supplement: This is a good option if you decide to buy Garden of Life or MegaFood, because it will add the iron missing from those vitamins back into your child’s diet.
For Omega 3s: The only 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!
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 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 and option that doesn’t require refrigeration (but it does have maltodextrin).
- 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)
I hope this helps you in navigating the world of kids’ vitamins!