The Best Multivitamins for Children in 2014
See Our Comparison of 88 Vitamin Supplements Designed for Kids
- 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)
|1||Xtend-Life||Total Balance Childrens||8.94|
|2||Mercola||Multivitamin Children's Chewables||8.72|
|5||Trace Minerals Research||Complete Children's Chewable||8.32|
|6||Carlson Labs||Carlson for Kids Multi||8.31|
|7||USANA Health Sciences||Usanimals||8.28|
|8||Life Extension Foundation||Children's Formula Life Extension Mix||8.19|
|9||Jarrow||Kid Bear Kids Multi||8.12|
|10||Ola Loa||Ola Loa Kids Multi||8.10|
|11||Super Nutrition||Perfect Kids||8.10|
|12||Greens Today (Natures Answer)||Greens Today Children's Formula||8.08|
|13||Isotonix (Market America)||Isotonix Might-A-Mins||8.05|
|15||Pioneer Nutritional||Pioneer Childrens Multi||8.03|
|16||SupraLife||Supralife Kids Toddy||8.01|
|17||One-A-Day (Bayer)||Kids Scooby Doo Gummies Multivitamin||7.98|
|18||Progressive Laboratories Inc.||Progressive Child Chewable Multi||7.96|
|21||Veglife (Nutraceutical)||Vegan Kids Multiple||7.94|
|22||MegaFood||Kid's One Daily||7.92|
|23||Nature's Way||Alive! Children's Chewable||7.89|
|24||Garden of Life||Vitamin Code Kids||7.88|
|26||Country Life||Dolphin Pals||7.83|
|27||Buried Treasure (Life Line Foods)||Buried Treasure Children's Complete||7.81|
|28||Kirkman Labs||Children's Chewable Wafers||7.81|
|29||Thorne Research||Children's Basic Nutrients||7.80|
|30||Rainbow Light||Nutri Stars Chewable||7.76|
|31||Flintstones (Bayer)||Flintstones Complete||7.75|
|32||Enzymatic Therapy||Sea Buddies Daily Multiple||7.72|
|33||GNC||GNC Kids MultiBite plus Minerals||7.69|
|34||KAL (Nutraceutical)||Dinosaurs Multisaurus||7.67|
|35||Progressive Nutritional Therapies||Progressive Child Chewable Multi||7.66|
|36||Solaray (Nutraceutical)||Children's Chewable||7.66|
|37||Michael's Naturopathic Programs||Children's Chewables Daily Multi-Vitamin||7.65|
|38||Solgar||Kangavites - Tropical Punch/Bouncin Berry||7.65|
|39||Centrum (Pfizer)||Centrum Kids||7.64|
|40||Kirkland Signature (Costco)||Children's Chewable||7.63|
|42||Natural Factors||Big Friends||7.57|
|43||NOW Foods||Kid Vits - Orange Splash||7.55|
|44||Nature's Plus||Animal Parade||7.54|
|45||FoodScience of Vermont||Kids Superior||7.53|
|46||Dr's Advantage||Liquid Children's Super MultiVitamins||7.52|
|48||21st Century||Zoo Friends Complete||7.46|
|49||Nordic Naturals||Nordic Berries||7.44|
|50||Bluebonnet Nutrition||Super Earth Rainforest Animalz||7.40|
|51||DaVinci Laboratories||Kid's Mighty Vites||7.36|
|52||PediaKid (Laboratories Ineldea)||PediaKid 22 Vitamins & Multiminerals||7.32|
|53||Vitabase||Kid's Stuff Multivitamin||7.31|
|55||Equate (Walmart)||Children's Multivitamin Complete||7.25|
|56||Thompson (Nutraceutical )||Children's Chewable||7.20|
|57||Jamieson||Vita-Vim for Kids||7.17|
|58||Irwin Naturals||Irwin Kids BerryLicious Super Multi||7.16|
|59||Swiss Natural Sources||Total One Kids||7.13|
|60||Douglas Laboratories||Basic Preventive Junior Tab||7.12|
|61||Quest (SunOpta Inc.)||Quest Kid's Daily One Chewable||7.11|
|62||Doctor's Nutrition||Kid's Mega Vites||7.10|
|63||Nutrilite (Amway, Quixtar)||Nutrilite Kids MultiTarts||7.10|
|64||Hero Nutritional Products||Yummi Bears Organics||7.09|
|65||G&G Vitamins||Children's Vitamins and Minerals||7.07|
|66||Natural Vitality||Kids Calm Multi||7.04|
|67||Mountain Naturals of Vermont||Kid's Superior||7.03|
|68||Allergy Research Group||Children's Multi-Vi-Min Vegetarian Caps||6.98|
|69||Better Bodies By Chemistry||BBBC Bengal Bites||6.94|
|70||Nature's Sunshine||Sunshine Heroes||6.90|
|71||Alacer||EmerGen-C Kids Multi||6.79|
|72||Vita Logic||Daily Extra Powder Blend||6.79|
|73||TwinLab||Animal Friends Chewable Vitamins||6.78|
|74||Vitamin Power||Children's Multi-Vites & Minerals||6.60|
|75||Natrol Inc.||Liquid Kid's Companion||6.57|
|76||Purity Products||I.Q. Essentials: Kid's Perfect Multi||6.56|
|77||Schiff||Children's Multivitamin Chewable||6.55|
|79||SmartyPants||SmartyPants Gummy Vitamins for Kids||6.51|
|80||Sundown||Marvel Heroes Multi Gummies||6.47|
|81||Puritan's Pride||Children's Multi Gummies||6.44|
|82||Vitamin World||Fantastic Kids Gummies Multivitamin||6.20|
|84||Northwest Natural Products||L'il Critters Gummy Vites||6.06|
|85||Natural Dynamix||Gummy Cuties Multi-Vitamin||6.03|
|86||Flora (Salus-Haus)||Floradix Kindervital||5.96|
|88||Action Labs||Sentinel Children's Chewable||5.64|
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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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
4-8 year olds
4-8 year olds
9-13 year olds
9-13 year olds
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.