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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Ann Arbor, MI!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

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The Healthiest Children’s Vitamins: 2017

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?
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Recently, I was talking with a friend and realized that 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 to multivitamins for kids: what to buy, what not to buy, and what to look out for!
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So 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.
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When buying a multivitamin, what should you look for? 
So to start, 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.
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 (Red #40 anyone?), 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.
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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.
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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 red all of the ingredients to avoid):
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#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.
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Let’s take these 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. 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.

With Iron:
  • Natures Plus
  • Rainbow Light
  • 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).
Without Iron:
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • YummiBears Organic Multivitamin (or) the YummiBears non-organic Complete Multivitamin

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.

Runner Ups:

  • 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.

I hope this helps you in navigating the world of kids’ vitamins!

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27 responses to “The Healthiest Children’s Vitamins: 2017”

    • Hi Jessica! The doTerra vitamins aren’t bad, but there are a couple ingredients that I don’t love: 1) Stevia extract – while I’m ok with “Organic Stevia Leaf” as an ingredient since that’s a whole food, “stevia extract” is something I lump into the category of “fake sugar” – since just about anything can be included in the extract – it’s not as tightly regulated as organic stevia leaf. 2) Microcrystalline cellulose is a refined wood pulp used as an emulsifier for vitamins. It’s not harmful, but it is an ingredient I like to call out because it’s also not natural. It is hard to find the “perfect” vitamin though, as one of the vitamins on my list does include microcrystalline cellulose, and another has organic stevia leaf in it (but not stevia extract). Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions!

      • Thank you, that does help. 🙂

        You are right, it is hard to find the perfect. I think for now as long as both my kiddos like them and are willing to eat them, we’ll keep them. I’ll keep your list saved though for future reference.

        • Makes sense Jessica! And yeah exactly – nothing is 100% perfect and the doTerra ones are definitely better than most of the vitamins on the market (like Flinstones, etc.)! Glad it was helpful!

    • Hi Courtney! Those vitamins actually look pretty good! I don’t love that they add sugar to them — but that’s the only ingredient that stands out as less-than-ideal — and at least it’s a small amount of sugar from natural sources. Hope that helps!

    • Hi Carol! SmartyPants Kids Complete Gummy Vitamins actually look great! The only downside is that they are a bit higher in sugar than I’d like — 5g per serving which is more than some of the other options on this list, and they have gelatin in them which makes them non-vegetarian – but other than that the ingredients look good. Hope that helps, let me know if you have any other questions!

      • Hi! Thank you for All of your info on kids vitamins! I have been so confused and ran across your blog and am so greatful to you for posting this all! I researched a couple weeks ago and found one I liked. I wanted something with omega 3 fish oil. I see you said you like the Smarty pants multivitamin besides the sugar content. So the one I got was Smarty pants Multivitamin with omega fish oil, fiber.i wanted to see what you thought of these before I gave them to him. I have been waiting to switch because I wasn’t sure but I’ve been giving him flinstones for years. I really want to switch from the flinestones . He also takes juice plus every day! Thanks for your help!

        • Hi Leanne! No problem at all – so glad you found my post helpful! The Smarty Pants vitamins with fish oil & fiber looks good! It does have sugar added but it’s only 2g per serving which isn’t bad at all. It has gelatin in it, so that just makes it non-vegetarian – which isn’t relevant if you aren’t vegetarian 🙂 I think they would be a good choice to switch from the Flinstones vitamins! Hope that helps, let me know if you have any other questions!

  1. Hi Anjali! So glad I found your blog and so cool that you’re in AA! I’ve been searching for a great supplement for my kids to take since they’ve been sick 2x (already!) since going back to school. Would love your input on this one: https://www.target.com/p/l-il-critters-153-fruit-n-honey-vitamin-c-130ct/-/A-51444607 . It’s the L’il Critters™ Fruit’n Honey Vitamin C, I need something to boost their immune system and it doesn’t have the bad stuff (I hope).

    • Hi Trina! So that Vitamin C supplement is actually pretty good! The only less ideal ingredient is that it does have added sugar. And if you’re vegetarian it’s made with gelatin so that’s not good either (but not an issue if you are not vegetarian!). But everything else looks good, and the amount of sugar is small – 3g per serving, so that’s about 3/4 tsp sugar added. Hope that helps, let me know if you have any other questions!

  2. You had stated that the vitamin shouldn’t have 100 percent or more of the needed daily dose of each specific vitamin but it looks like your top 3 favorites have over that. Like 200 percent vitamin c and 100 percent or more on almost all others. So I guess I’m a little confused. Thanks for your time. Dawn

    • Hi Dawn! That’s a great question! I should have been clearer in my post. The vitamin shouldn’t have more than 100% or more of the daily value for Vitamins A, E and K (the fat soluble vitamins). But for Vitamin C all the water soluble vitamins it’s completely fine. Vitamin D, even though it’s a fat soluble vitamin often has more than 100% daily value because most people (even kids) are deficient in it – so that should be fine as well. And even if it does have >100% of the dose for A, E or K you can just give your child half the dose. I updated my post too – to make that clear! Hope that helps, let me know if you have any other questions!

  3. How do you feel about Zarbee’s toddler multivitamins. I like the ideal of Garden of Life but it says for 4 years and up. My daughter is 2.

    • Hi Colleen! Zarbee’s multivitamins look good. The only issue I see is that they have honey and sugar added but it ends up being only 3g per serving (which is about 3/4 tsp of sugar) per day. They don’t have iron in them so that’s something to consider but other than that they could work!

    • Hi Alex! Overall Plexus is pretty good – they just have two ingredients in their vitamins that I’m not a huge fan of: 1) Hydroxypropyl 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 and 2) Xylitol & Erythritol – which are sugar alcohols. In the quantity that’s in the vitamin it’s probably fine – sugar alcohols are to be avoided in large quantities because they can cause gas/bloating/diarrhea – but again, in the quantity used for the vitamin it’s probably ok! Hope that helps, let me know if you have any other questions!

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