The Best Multivitamins for Children in 2014

See Our Comparison of 88 Vitamin Supplements Designed for Kids



See our list of the best multivitamins for children

Supplementing your child's diet with a daily multivitamin can be one of the best things you can do for their health. There are 13 vitamins and 14 essential minerals that an infant needs in order to grow and develop properly. Here are several examples of what some of these essential nutrients can do for your child:

  • Vitamin A: improves eye health, repairs damaged tissues
  • The B vitamins: boost metabolism, produce energy
  • Vitamin C: fights infections, reduces the duration of colds
  • Vitamin D: improves bone, heart and brain health
  • Calcium: builds strong bones and teeth
  • Iron: needed for red blood cells, stimulates muscle growth

What is the best multivitamin for children?

As you might suspect, not all multivitamins are created equal. Supplements vary significantly in quality amongst the different manufacturers. For example, the vitamin C in Product A may not be as potent or bioavailable as the vitamin C in Product B. To help you navigate through the maze of vitamin supplements for kids, we analyzed 88 different multivitamin products specifically designed for children. We rated each of them on four key parameters by using a scale from 1 to 10, with ten being the highest score.

Table 1: Comparison of Popular Multivitamins for Children (click on each product for more detail)

RankCompanyProductEffectiveness
1Xtend-Life Total Balance Children's 8.94
2Mercola Children's Multivitamin 8.72
3Garden of LifeVitamin Code Kids 8.68
4SolgarKangavites Chewable Tablets 8.56
5VitalahOxylent Children's Multivitamin Drink 8.45
6ProtheraVita-Tab Chewable 8.36
7Trace Minerals Research Complete Children's Chewable 8.32
8Carlson LabsCarlson for Kids Multi 8.31
9USANA Health SciencesUsanimals 8.28
10Life Extension FoundationChildren's Formula Life Extension Mix 8.19
11Shaklee Shakleekids Incredivites 7.86
12JarrowKid Bear Kids Multi 8.12
13Ola LoaOla Loa Kids Multi 8.10
14Super NutritionPerfect Kids 8.10
15Greens Today (Natures Answer)Greens Today Children's Formula 8.08
16Isotonix (Market America)Isotonix Might-A-Mins 8.05
17FreeLifeDinoPals 8.03
18Pioneer NutritionalPioneer Childrens Multi 8.03
19SupraLifeSupralife Kids Toddy 8.01
20One-A-Day (Bayer) Kids Scooby Doo Gummies Multivitamin 7.98
21Progressive Laboratories Inc. Progressive Child Chewable Multi 7.96
22Mannatech Glyco Bears 7.95
23Melaleuca Koala Pals 7.95
24Veglife (Nutraceutical) Vegan Kids Multiple 7.94
25MegaFood Kid's One Daily 7.92
26Nature's Way Alive! Children's Chewable 7.89
27Garden of Life Vitamin Code Kids 7.88
28Country Life Dolphin Pals 7.83
29Buried Treasure (Life Line Foods) Buried Treasure Children's Complete 7.81
30Kirkman Labs Children's Chewable Wafers 7.81
31Thorne Research Children's Basic Nutrients 7.80
32Rainbow Light Nutri Stars Chewable 7.76
33Flintstones (Bayer) Flintstones Complete 7.75
34Enzymatic Therapy Sea Buddies Daily Multiple 7.72
35GNC GNC Kids MultiBite plus Minerals 7.69
36KAL (Nutraceutical) Dinosaurs Multisaurus 7.67
37Progressive Nutritional Therapies Progressive Child Chewable Multi 7.66
38Solaray (Nutraceutical) Children's Chewable 7.65
39Centrum (Pfizer) Centrum Kids 7.64
40Kirkland Signature (Costco) Children's Chewable 7.63
41Metagenics Multigenics Chewable 7.59
42Natural Factors Big Friends 7.57
43NOW Foods Kid Vits - Orange Splash 7.55
44Nature's Plus Animal Parade 7.54
45FoodScience of Vermont Kids Superior 7.53
46Dr's Advantage Liquid Children's Super MultiVitamins 7.52
47Thompson's Junior Immunofort 7.47
4821st Century Zoo Friends Complete 7.46
49Nordic Naturals Nordic Berries 7.44
50Bluebonnet Nutrition Super Earth Rainforest Animalz 7.40
51DaVinci Laboratories Kid's Mighty Vites 7.36
52PediaKid (Laboratories Ineldea)PediaKid 22 Vitamins & Multiminerals7.32
53Vitabase Kid's Stuff Multivitamin 7.31
54Freeda Vitamins Vitalets 7.29
55Equate (Walmart) Children's Multivitamin Complete 7.25
56Thompson (Nutraceutical ) Children's Chewable 7.20
57Jamieson Vita-Vim for Kids 7.17
58Irwin Naturals Irwin Kids BerryLicious Super Multi 7.16
59Swiss Natural Sources Total One Kids 7.13
60Douglas Laboratories Basic Preventive Junior Tab 7.12
61Quest (SunOpta Inc.) Quest Kid's Daily One Chewable 7.11
62Doctor's Nutrition Kid's Mega Vites 7.10
63Nutrilite (Amway, Quixtar) Nutrilite Kids MultiTarts 7.10
64Hero Nutritional Products Yummi Bears Organics 7.09
65G&G Vitamins Children's Vitamins and Minerals 7.07
66Natural Vitality Kids Calm Multi 7.04
67Mountain Naturals of Vermont Kid's Superior 7.03
68Allergy Research Group Children's Multi-Vi-Min Vegetarian Caps6.98
69Better Bodies By Chemistry BBBC Bengal Bites 6.94
70Nature's Sunshine Sunshine Heroes 6.90
71Alacer EmerGen-C Kids Multi 6.79
72Vita Logic Daily Extra Powder Blend 6.79
73TwinLab Animal Friends Chewable Vitamins 6.78
74Vitamin Power Children's Multi-Vites & Minerals 6.60
75Natrol Inc. Liquid Kid's Companion 6.57
76Purity Products I.Q. Essentials: Kid's Perfect Multi 6.56
77Schiff Children's Multivitamin Chewable 6.55
78Herbalife MultiVites 6.51
79SmartyPants SmartyPants Gummy Vitamins for Kids 6.51
80Sundown Marvel Heroes Multi Gummies 6.47
81Puritan's Pride Children's Multi Gummies 6.44
82Vitamin World Fantastic Kids Gummies Multivitamin 6.20
83Wellgenix Super Bears 6.13
84Northwest Natural Products L'il Critters Gummy Vites 6.06
85Natural Dynamix Gummy Cuties Multi-Vitamin 6.03
86Flora (Salus-Haus) Floradix Kindervital 5.96
87Walgreens Children's Gummies 5.82
88Action Labs Sentinel Children's Chewable5.64

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What were the findings of the comparison?

After evaluating all 88 products we noticed several recurring issues:

  • Some products lack key nutrients. We have given those products a lower Composition score.
  • Some manufacturers use cheap ingredients (frequently sourced from China) which don't get absorbed well by your body. We have given those products a lower Bioavailability score.
  • Many products contain high vitamin and mineral doses which are more appropriate for adults consuming 2000 calories a day rather than small children. Since this increases the risk of an overdose, we have given these products a lower Safety score.

What do all the scores mean?

Here is more detail on what goes into calculating each of the scores:

Composition

This metric represents how many of the 13 vitamins and 14 essential minerals are included in the product. Surprisingly, a number of products are missing key ingredients, such as iodine, chromium, and magnesium. We also consider the number of additional active ingredients because lesser-known nutrients, such as choline, inositol, and lycopene have well documented health benefits, but are typically not included in the more basic multivitamin formulations. We give extra credit to products that contain such beneficial compounds.

Potency

Our potency score has two components: the chemical form of the nutrient, as well as the total amount of each nutrient contained in one serving. Depending on the chemical form of the nutrients it uses, Product A can be several times more potent than Product B. For example, Magnesium Citrate contains 16.2 percent of elementary magnesium, while Magnesium Oxide contains 60.3 percent of elementary magnesium. A product containing magnesium in the Oxide chemical form would be 3.7 times more potent when it comes to that one nutrient than a product containing magnesium in the Citrate chemical form.

Bioavailability

Bioavailability is the portion of a given active ingredient that is capable of being absorbed through the intestinal membranes so it becomes available for use by the cells and organs of the body. A given nutrient can come in many different chemical forms and some of these forms may be more bioavailable than others. For example, a study by the University of Texas published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology showed that one common form of calcium, called Calcium Citrate, is 2.5 times more bioavailable than another popular form, called Calcium Carbonate. Based upon these findings, we've assigned a lower Bioavailability score to products containing Calcium Carbonate rather than other, more bioavailable forms of calcium.

Safety

When it comes to children's multivitamins, we put safety first. We prefer a less potent, but safer product, rather than a product packed in nutrients that are well in excess of the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs). The standards against we measure potency and safety of children's multivitamins are based on the RDAs for children four to eight years of age, as put forth by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council.

When determining the Safety scores, we look for two things:

1. Harmful additives. We analyze the list of ingredients to see if any artificial flavors, preservatives, coloring, sweeteners and binding agents are included. All such ingredients are then cross-referenced against an ingredient safety database to check for compounds with potential toxicity. Points are deducted from the Safety score of each product that includes substances with potential toxicity.

2. Risk of overdose. We cross-reference every single ingredient to make sure it falls within the safe Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL) for children as set out by the Food and Nutrition Board. Ingredients that exceed the UL get a deduction in their Safety rating. For example, the vitamin A UL for children aged four to eight is 3000 IU; however, quite a few products contain 5000 IU and higher. When children take multivitamins that exceed the UL for vitamin A, they can experience side effects, such as fatigue, nausea, and irritability. To avoid this risk, keep an eye on the Safety score of the product you are considering.

Overall Effectiveness

To calculate the Overall Effectiveness score of a given product, we take the average of the other four scores: composition, potency, bioavailability, and safety. For best results, we recommend choosing a multivitamin product that has an Overall Effectiveness score of 8.0 and above.

At what age can my child start taking multivitamins?

Unless your child has a specific medical condition which requires supplementation, it is best to wait until a child reaches the age of four before giving him or her a multivitamin supplement. If your child has been diagnosed with a vitamin deficiency and their doctor has advised you to start supplementing their diet, a safe product that we generally recommend for babies and toddlers is the Enfamil Poly-Vi-Sol multivitamin drops. For babies under one year old, it is also highly recommended to use vitamin D drops such as Enfamil D-Vi-Sol, as vitamin D is critical for the proper development of the infant.

How much do children need of each vitamin and mineral?

The ultimate goal of multivitamin supplementation is to elevate the level of vitamins and minerals in your bloodstream so they can reach the cells and organs that need them. Each nutrient has an optimal range for effective functioning of the body. If children have too little of a given nutrient, they can suffer a deficiency disease. If they have too much, they may develop undesired side effects such as diarrhea and nausea.

For the optimum range of each vitamin and mineral, please see the table below which was published by the National Academy of Sciences and lists the RDA and the UL of each nutrient. In this data, the RDA is the minimum amount of the nutrient a healthy person has to have through their diet or by taking supplements. The UL is the maximum amount of the nutrient a person can consume on a daily basis without risking any side effects. If there is not enough data to assess the potential for adverse effects in a particular age group, ND (Not Determined) will appear in the column.

Table 2: Optimal range of vitamins and minerals

#NutrientUnitRDA for
4-8 year olds
UL for
4-8 year olds
  RDA for
9-13 year olds
UL for
9-13 year olds
1Vitamin AIU13333000 20005667
2Vitamin Cmg25650 451200
3Vitamin DIU6003000 6004000
4Vitamin EIU10447 16894
5Vitamin Kmcg55ND 60ND
6Thiaminmg0.6ND 0.9ND
7Riboflavinmg0.6ND 0.9ND
8Niacinmg815 1220
9Vitamin B6mg0.640 160
10Folatemcg200400 300600
11Vitamin B12mcg1.2ND 1.8ND
12Panto. Acidmg3ND 4ND
13Biotinmcg12ND 20ND
14Cholinemg2501000 3752000
15Calciummg10002500 13003000
16Chromiummcg15ND 25ND
17Coppermcg4403000 7005000
18Fluoridemg12.2 210
19Iodinemcg90300 120600
20Ironmg1040 840
21Magnesiummg130110 240350
22Manganesemg1.53000 1.96000
23Molybdenummcg22600 341100
24Phosphorus mg5003 12504
25Seleniummcg30150 40280
26Zincmg512 823
27Potassiumg3.8ND 4.5ND
28Sodiumg1.21.9 1.52.2

What are the different measurement units in the RDA/UI table?

The following measurement units are used in the table: mcg, mg, g and IU.

1000 mcg (micrograms) = 1 mg (milligram)

1000 mg (milligrams) = 1 g (gram)

IU stands for International Unit. It represents a measurement of a particular substance based upon its effect or activity within the body. Since the IU is established for each nutrient independently, it cannot be used to compare one nutrient to another in the same fashion as one can use grams to compare the mass of one substance to another. For example, 100 IU for vitamin D is not the same as 100 IU of vitamin E.

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