Multivitamins provide the necessary amounts of vitamins and minerals for optimal nutrition, and children have different nutritional needs than adults.
There are a number of essential nutrients that kids need more of, and a few that they should not have in excessive amounts. For optimal health, you shouldn’t just give kids an adult multivitamin—you need something specially formulated.
Our researchers have looked at all of the key ingredients in a wide range of multivitamins for kids and come up with the ten best overall choices.
Here are our rankings, plus a detailed look at the specific nutritional needs of children.
1. MegaFood Kids One Daily
MegaFood Kids One Daily is a easy to use tablet that delivers all the vital nutrients your child needs and takes extra care to include trace elements that you won’t find in some other multivitamins for kids, such as selenium, boron, and copper.
MegaFood Kid’s One Daily also comes with added phytonutrients from oranges, cranberries, and blueberries to help boost antioxidant levels.
These added phytonutrients make it a great choice for kids who are picky eaters—while nothing can fully replace the benefits of whole fruits and vegetables, getting the antioxidant content can help reap at least some of the benefits. These extras make MegaFood Kids One Daily our number one pick.
2. Smarty Pants Kids Complete with Fiber
Smarty Pants Kids Complete with Fiber is a chewable multivitamin for kids delivers all of the essential vitamins and minerals your kid needs, plus some nice extras like omega 3 fatty acids from fish oil, and fiber from inulin and chicory root.
It’s iron-free, which makes it well-suited for young children, who have fairly low limits on iron intake. It’s free of artificial coloring and preservatives, and it’s sweetened only with lo han extract, a natural and sugar-free sweetener.
Smarty Pants is a great option for parents looking for a kids multivitamin that provides all the essentials in an all-natural package.
3. The Honest Company Gummy Multivitamin
The Honest Company Gummy Multivitamin uses organic ingredients to deliver the best gummy-based multivitamin for kids that’s on the market right now.
It’s iron-free and delivers all of the essential nutrients your child needs. While it doesn’t have some of the extras you’ll find in tablet-based multivitamins for kids, like probiotics or extra antioxidants, it’s still a great option for kids who don’t like to chew on a hard tablet for their daily multivitamin.
4. Garden of Life Vitamin Code Kids
Vitamin Code is the flagship product of Garden of Life, which is known for its all-natural multivitamins. The kids version of its multivitamin delivers all the extras you’d expect from Garden of Life.
It has strong vitamin and mineral content, all derived from natural ingredients like beets, carrots, spinach, and blueberry, plus one billion CFUs of probiotics for better digestive health.
These probiotics are a rare find when it comes to children’s multivitamins, but they’re great for preventing digestive problems and for helping to restore the gut bacteria if your child has had to take antibiotics for strep throat or an ear infection.
The flavor isn’t the tastiest, but that might be helpful if you want to teach your kids that chewable vitamins aren’t candy.
5. Tropical Oasis Premium Kids Multivitamin
Tropical Oasis makes a multivitamin for kids that’s in a liquid form, which is the ultimate solution for kids who don’t deal well with tablets or gummies.
It provides 100% of the recommended daily intake for all of the vitamins and minerals it contains, plus contains bioflavonoids and quercetin from oranges.
It’s free of sugar, but does use the sugar alcohol xylitol as a sweetener—not all parents are thrilled to have their kids taking non-caloric sweeteners, but Tropical Oasis Premium is still the best liquid kids multivitamin on the market.
6. Olly Kids Multi
Olly Kids Multi is a great option if your child doesn’t like traditional chewable tablets or has a hard time dealing with harder tablets.
These gummy vitamins are much easier on your teeth, and still deliver all the essential nutrients your child needs, plus omega 3 fatty acids.
However, the actual fish oil content is pretty low, so don’t count on this multivitamin to totally take care of your child’s healthy fat intake.
Additionally, as a sweetened gummy vitamin, it does have a few grams of sugar, so if you are a stickler for sugar content, you might want to look elsewhere.
7. Bio Naturals Children’s Advanced
Bio Naturals Children’s Advanced is a liquid form children’s multivitamin that provides a comprehensive supply of many essential and nonessential vitamins and minerals.
Its primary advantage is the inclusion of ingredients that you won’t get elsewhere, like prebiotic oligosaccharides, and a fruit and vegetable blend that includes things like kiwi, papaya, and green tea.
Like other liquid multivitamins, it does contain more preservatives, and is flavored with sugar alcohol, so you’ll need to weigh these disadvantages against the advantages of a liquid multivitamin for kids.
8. Nature’s Plus Source of Life Animal Parade
Nature’s Plus Source of Life Animal Parade is a comprehensive multivitamin that contains the usual vitamins and minerals you’d expect, plus extracts from pineapple and apple as natural sweeteners.
This multivitamin does contain iron, though at a fairly low dose (only 28% of the recommended daily intake), so do keep this in mind if you are trying to limit your child’s iron intake.
The sugar content (two grams per serving, all of it fructose) might be a turn-off for parents looking to keep sugar intake to an absolute minimum, but aside from the sugar, there are no other undesirable ingredients like coloring or flavoring agents.
9. Zarbee’s Naturals Children’s Complete Multivitamin
Zarbee’s Naturals makes a kid-friendly multivitamin that uses chewable gummies instead of hard tablets.
The nutrient content is solid, but you don’t get any additional perks or bonuses like probiotics or omega 3 fatty acids, and it does use both sugar and unspecified natural flavoring agents to enhance the taste of the gummies.
While it’s an okay pick, it gets edged out by its competitors on several fronts.
10. Nordic Naturals Nordic Berries
Famed for their high-quality fish oil supplements, Nordic Naturals also makes a multivitamin for kids.
Surprisingly, these gummy multivitamins do not include any omega 3 fatty acids, though they do supply 50% of the recommended daily intake for most of the essential vitamins and minerals.
While the nutrient quality is okay, the major drawback with this multivitamin for kids is the sugar content—at seven grams per serving, these gummies deliver quite a lot of sugar, which is not the best thing for your child’s development.
Though they are popular thanks to the taste and ease of use, most people would be better served by something with equivalent nutrient content but less sugar.
Multivitamin for kids benefits and side effects
Multivitamins serve as catch-all supplements to make sure you are getting all of the necessary vitamins and minerals you need for optimal health, and multivitamins come in special formulations for men, women, and of course, children.
A multivitamin for kids requires different formulation than a multivitamin for adults, because the nutritional needs of children are not the same.
In addition to the challenge of getting the right nutrients, there is also the issue of kids being picky eaters. It can be hard to get a picky kid to finish his or her fruits and vegetables at meals, and moreover, most kids can’t take or don’t like usual capsule-based multivitamins.
As a result, kids multivitamins use one of three strategies: chewable tables, chewable gummies, or liquids. Regardless of the strategy, a high-quality multivitamin for kids will deliver the right vitamins and minerals in appropriate proportions for healthy growth and development.
Vitamin D and Vitamin A are particularly important for kids. While most of the critical vitamins that kids need, like vitamin K, are fortified into pre-prepared foods, scientific research has identified a few key vitamins that are often not supplied in sufficient amounts in children’s diets.
According to a scientific review article published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood in 2007, vitamins A and D may require supplementation in some children, particularly if they are not eating a healthy diet (1).
Vitamin D is a particular problem because it is not naturally found in almost any foods. It is usually synthesized in your body during exposure to direct sunlight, but in winter months, and for children with darker skin, vitamin D levels are often much lower than is optimal for health.
A lack of vitamin D in kids has been associated with diseases ranging from asthma to type 1 diabetes. Detailed nutritional investigations into children’s health supports the claim that vitamins D and A are of particular importance for children.
One study published in The Lancet in 2001 followed children in Finland, an area known to have a high rate of vitamin deficiency (2).
The study followed over 10,000 children from birth and examined whether vitamin D supplementation was associated with risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
The researchers found that children who had been given a supplement containing vitamin D on a regular basis were over eight times less likely to develop type 1 diabetes, even after adjusting for potentially confounding factors such as body mass and socioeconomic status.
Other research extends this same perspective to asthma—a scientific paper published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine in 2011 examined vitamin D status and severe asthma (3).
By testing the blood levels of vitamin D among children with and without asthma, the researchers were able to correlate higher vitamin D levels with better airway function.
Vitamin A is important for proper growth and vision. According to Stanford Children’s Hospital, appropriate levels of vitamin A in a child’s diet are essential for the proper development of skin, vision, and overall musculoskeletal growth (4).
One article estimated the prevalence of vitamin A deficiency across the Americas at approximately five percent, indicating that vitamin A intake might be an important feature to pay attention to in your child’s multivitamin (5).
Starting a multivitamin before age four could reduce the risk of developing food allergies. One fascinating study conducted by researchers in Stockholm, Sweden and published in 2009 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that there is a possible protective link between multivitamin supplements taken at an early age and the development of food allergies by age eight (6).
The study examined multivitamin use in early life among children with and without a range of allergies, and found that multivitamin use prior to age four (but not afterwards) seemed to have a protective effect on risk for developing food allergies.
Interestingly, other work has found the opposite trend among infants, so the link between multivitamin use and allergies is still an active area of research (7).
The primary side effects associated with multivitamin use is toxicity as a result of excessive consumption. Iron is particularly problematic; ingesting iron supplements is the most common reason children are seen at poison control centers (8).
Of course, iron is also a necessary mineral for children, but most kids who are not on a very picky vegetarian diet get a sufficient amount in their normal food.
Talking with your pediatrician about your child’s iron intake is a good strategy to determine whether you should get a multivitamin for kids with iron, or whether to opt for one without iron.
Managing the appropriate dose of each individual vitamin and mineral is exceptionally difficult, which is the entire point of taking a single multivitamin in the first place.
With regards to dose, all high-quality multivitamins for kids will contain the right proportions of vitamins and minerals in each serving.
Keep an eye on the exact serving size, as it might be two or three tablets instead of just one. After giving your child his or her multivitamin, keep the rest of the bottle locked in a cabinet out of reach to make sure they don’t take any more—too much of some vitamins and minerals can be particularly toxic in children, as their bodies are much smaller than an adult’s.
A multivitamin for kids is a good way to ensure that your child is getting sufficient intake of all of the necessary vitamins and minerals needed for proper growth and development.
Scientific research has identified both vitamins A and vitamins D as frequent sources of deficiencies in children, so be sure to keep an eye on the vitamin A and D content of the multivitamin for kids that you choose.
Supplementing these and other vitamins and minerals appears to be linked to a lower risk of health problems that affect children, such as type 1 diabetes, asthma, and possibly even food allergies.
Be sure to follow the dosage directions on the label closely, and make sure your kids can’t get access to the multivitamin bottle. The primary side effects associated with multivitamins in kids are all linked to excessive intake of specific vitamins or minerals, and iron is the most common culprit. Many multivitamins have low or no iron to offset this risk.
Overall, a multivitamin for kids is a good way to ensure that even children who are picky eaters get the vitamins and minerals they need for appropriate growth, development, and health.