If you’re a parent, you might ask yourself, “should kids take vitamins?” Suppose you did everything right to set your baby up for a life of good health. You may have eaten a nutrient-dense diet, taken prenatal vitamins, and breastfed your baby. The truth is, as your child ages, their nutritional needs change as fast as their bodies.
In the crucial years of growth and development, children need to get optimal amounts of nutrients. Unfortunately, due to modern farming practices and the abundance of processed foods, the nutrient levels are not what they were in our ancestors’ times. For that reason alone, kids should take high-quality multivitamins with optimal levels of essential nutrients for kids.
Don’t worry. I will tell you the optimal levels of essential nutrients for kids, which nutrients are crucial, the problem with most kids’ vitamins, and what to look for in a kid’s multivitamin. Before I talk about that, should kids take vitamins?
Should Kids Take Vitamins?
As a mother, I know the stress of setting your baby up for optimal health. I became a mother in 2017. I’m sure many of you remember this milestone as clearly as the day it happened. I was terrified and excited.
Being a doctor did not make me immune to the anxiety that comes with being a first-time mother, especially when it comes to making sure she had everything she needed. That included ensuring she had the nutrients she needed for a healthy life.
Elle is now five years old, and her growth and development evolve daily. I still consider the importance of my food choices for her, as feeding your child a diverse range of natural, whole foods is essential to keep her in good health.
Though, if you have a picky toddler at home, you know this is sometimes easier said than done! A sensitive palate is not the only challenge with relying on food alone to meet your child’s nutritional needs.
We, and our children, cannot get all the vitamins and minerals we need from our food, despite eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and lean protein. Modern agriculture methods have stripped our soil of nutrients, resulting in less nutritious fruits and vegetables.1
On top of this, in our modern world, we are all exposed to thousands of environmental toxins daily. This added stress on your child’s little body means her nutrient needs are higher than those of a child living in our world a hundred years ago. Should kids take vitamins? The answer is a resounding yes! So, what vitamins do kids need?
What Vitamins Do Kids Need?
An estimated 81% of children ages 2-8 don’t get enough vitamin D in their diet (needed for a strong and healthy immune system), 65% aren’t receiving enough vitamin E (to scavenge free radicals), and 23% are low in calcium ( for healthy bones). A good multivitamin can bridge this nutritional gap. Here are 7 essential vitamins for kids.
Vitamin D is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies across the world. In infants alone, prevalence rates of vitamin D deficiency range from 2.7 to 45 percent.2 Optimal levels of Vitamin D are crucial for immune health and strong bones. The amount depends on your child’s age. I recommend that children between the ages of 1 and 3 get 250 IUs daily. Children older than four should take 500 IUs of vitamin D.
A high-quality multivitamin will pair this nutrient with vitamin K2 to ensure calcium gets safely into your child’s bones rather than in their arteries.
Only a few foods contain high levels of vitamin D. Foods with vitamin D include salmon, egg yolks, fresh tuna, and mushrooms. Cereals, milk, and juices have a lot of vitamin D. However; processed foods contain toxic ingredients and artificial flavors.
If your child is picky about what they eat, as most are, salmon, tuna and mushrooms are probably not pleasant to their taste buds. This is where giving your child a high-quality multivitamin ensures your child gets optimal amounts of vitamin D.
Vitamin E is another common deficiency in children. This essential vitamin is a highly effective free radical scavenger. Optimal amounts of vitamin E in your child’s diet support your body’s natural detoxification processes. Vitamin E reduces oxidative stress caused by free radicals from the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the environment in which we live. The optimal amounts of vitamin E I recommend are 16.8 mg for children 1 to 3 and 33.5 mg for children four and older.
Plenty of nutritious foods contain high amounts of vitamin E, including beets, leafy greens, pumpkin, nuts, mango, kiwi, and avocado. Getting kids to eat those foods might be difficult, as beets and kiwi aren’t very pleasing to a child’s taste buds. Many nutrition vitamin E foods are not very pleasant tasting to a child, yet this is another reason why kids should take vitamins.
You likely know calcium gives you and your child strong bones and teeth. While 80% of children between the ages of 1 and 2 receive adequate amounts of calcium, the number falls to 60% by ages three.3 As your child gets older, the less likely they are getting optimal amounts of calcium.
Children between the ages of 1 and 3 should get 25 mg of calcium daily, while the optimal level of calcium for children over four is 50 mg. A high-quality kids vitamin should provide these amounts of calcium.
The most calcium-rich foods are made from cow’s dairy. However, I recommended that virtually everyone remove cow’s dairy from their diet, including kids. Dairy is highly inflammatory in a lot of people due to the whey and casein proteins found in cow’s milk. Unfortunately, many dairy alternatives do not have adequate amounts of calcium.
Vitamin A is so essential for children to develop healthy skin and eyes. This nutrient also supports the development of a child’s immune system and bones. Vitamin A deficiency is very prevalent in children. This can happen due to low amounts of vitamin A in breast milk during breastfeeding and low amounts of vitamin A in a child’s diet.4
Children between the ages of 1 and 3 should get 300 mcg of vitamin A daily, while the optimal level for children over four is 600 mcg. Fifty percent of vitamin A should be sourced from beta-carotene to support eye health. The other 50% should be in the form of retinyl palmitate to promote healthy skin.
There are many delicious foods containing vitamin A that your children will enjoy, such as cantaloupe, oranges, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes. Leafy greens such as spinach and kale are also great foods for vitamin A. You’ll probably have better luck getting them to eat cantaloupe.
B vitamins support energy levels, brain development, a strong immune system, and your child’s emotional well-being. There are eight B vitamins: Thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folate (B9) and cobalamin (B12). Optimal levels vary between each B vitamin and the age of your child.
A high-quality vitamin should offer B vitamins in optimal levels, yet also in a methylated form. B Vitamins in a methylated form make them easier to absorb and safe if your child has MTHFR mutations.
Plenty of foods have an abundance of B vitamins in them, yet not at optimal levels. Foods containing high amounts of B vitamins include salmon, leafy greens, eggs, grass-fed beef, and free-range chicken.
There may not be a more crucial nutrient for your child’s development than vitamin C. It supports your child’s immune system development, muscle development, and the growth of connective tissues and promotes healthy skin. Vitamin C is essential for growing children as their immune systems are hard at work fighting off frequent illnesses in the first few years of life.
Optimal amounts of vitamin C are 250 mg for children older than four years of age and 125 mg for children between the ages of 1 and 3.
Citrus fruits are great foods for children to get vitamin C, yet only if they do not have a sensitivity to citrus. You can do an elimination diet by removing citrus and then reintroducing it to see if they have any symptoms after eating citrus foods. If they experience symptoms, you should not give your child citrus foods.
Other foods with high levels of vitamin C include berries, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage.
Anemia is a common health problem in children.5 The most common cause of anemia in children is not getting enough iron from their diet. This is primarily due to a lack of varied, nutrient-dense diets; diets containing large amounts of milk (a poor source of iron); and an increasing number of autoimmune illnesses affecting nutrient absorption (such as Crohn’s disease).6
Iron is so crucial for your child’s development. It promotes the growth of red blood cells and hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein that lets red blood cells carry oxygen to other cells in the body. Iron is also essential for healthy red blood cells, muscle growth, energy levels, and mood stability. Despite iron-fortified cereals and wheat products, iron is still a common deficiency among children in the United States.
So, how much iron should children get in a day? Children between the ages of 1 and 3 should get 1.5 mg of iron daily, while children four and older should get 3 mg. Most children’s vitamins do not contain optimal amounts of iron if any at all.
Foods that are high in iron include wild-caught salmon, shellfish, tuna, grass-fed beef, lamb, legumes, lamb, free-range chicken, eggs, and leafy green vegetables.
A high-quality kids multivitamin will have optimal amounts of these essential nutrients that children need. However, the problem with most children’s multivitamins is they don’t have optimal amounts or are ineffective.
The Problem with Most Children’s Multivitamins
Next time you’re perusing the shelves of your health food store or pharmacy, take a peek at the kid’s vitamins. So many of them have fillers, additives, preservatives, dyes, and even high- fructose corn syrup! I would never give these to Elle, so I wouldn’t want to recommend them to anyone else. That’s just one issue with most children’s vitamins.
Gummy vitamins rule the market when it comes to children’s multivitamins. While your child may like the taste, there are many downsides. Kids’ gummy vitamins are often full of sugar to make them ore appealing to a child’s taste buds. Let’s face it, some children generally have picky palates. This also makes them seem as though it’s candy and if you’re not paying attention, they could eat more than they should. Additionally, gummy vitamins don’t always have the amounts of key nutrients as they claim to have. It’s best to avoid gummy vitamins all together, even if you’re an adult.
Many kids’ vitamins are made using the same formula for adult needs, just in smaller proportions. With so much growth and development happening early on in life, kids have much more specific nutrient needs than adults. Your child needs a multivitamin specifically formulated to meet those needs.
The good news is there are high-quality multivitamins on the market specifically tailored to kids. I give Elle a multivitamin every day to ensure she’s getting the nutrients she needs. Here’s what to look for when choosing a kids’ multivitamin.
What To Look For in a Children’s Multivitamin
Because of the concerns with so many children’s multivitamins on the market, I recommend doing your research before choosing the best option for your child.
When making your decision, here are a few of the top vitamins and minerals to look for and additives and ingredients to avoid.
Top vitamins and nutrients to look for in your child’s multivitamin:
- Vitamin A
- B vitamins in their pre-methylated forms
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
Ingredients to avoid in your child’s multivitamin:
- Sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners
- Dyes, preservatives, fillers, and synthetic ingredients
- Common inflammatory ingredients – gluten, dairy, corn, soy
It was challenging to find a good multivitamin for Elle that met all her specific needs and didn’t contain those fillers and preservatives. I researched for months and formulated the Kid’s Multivitamin Chewable.
What Vitamins Should Kids Take?
Kid’s Multivitamin Chewable is physician-formulated to ensure your child gets essential nutrients for their growth and development. It’s the multivitamin I recommend for my pediatric and adult patients to give their children and what I will give my daughter, Elle.
Each tablet contains 23 essential vitamins and minerals, including optimal amounts of B, D, E, A, and C vitamins, calcium, and iron, to support healthy growth and development. I ensured that the nutrients in Kid’s Multivitamin Chewable were in their most active and highly bioavailable forms, so they could be easily absorbed and not just flushed out of your child’s system. The B vitamins in this multivitamin are all pre-methylated, which is very important if your child has issues with methylation or has one or more MTHFR mutations.
A multivitamin can’t replace eating nourishing whole foods rich in vitamins and minerals. However, even with a perfect diet, it’s unlikely your child is getting all the nutrients she needs for optimal health.
The Final Word
As with adults, all children should take a high-quality multivitamin specifically tailored to their unique needs. As your child gets older, their nutrient needs change rapidly, which is why I say that kids should take vitamins. I formulated Kid’s Multivitamin Chewable with these needs in mind.
- Changes in USDA food composition data for 43 garden crops, 1950 to 1999 . Donald R David, et al. Journal of American College Nutrition. 2004.
- Do all infants need vitamin D supplementation? . Ane Cristina Fayão Almeida,et al. PLOS ONE. 2018.
- Pediatricians Say Most U.S. Kids Don't Get Enough Calcium. Jeff Minerd. MEDPAGE Today. 2006.
- Why do children become vitamin A deficient?. Melissa Miller, et al. Journal on Nutrition. 2002.
- Anemia in Children. Ane Cristina Fayão Almeida,et al. Boston Children's Hospital. 2002.
- What Causes Iron Deficiency in Your Child – and How To Spot It. Jeff Minerd. Cleveland Clinic. 2022.