Kids don't always get the vitamins they need from food.
According to WebMD, "Given the reality of time-crunched parents, those well-rounded, home-cooked meals aren't always possible. That's why pediatricians may recommend a daily multivitamin or mineral supplement for:
- Kids who aren't eating regular, well-balanced meals made from fresh, whole foods
- Finicky eaters who simply aren't eating enough
- Kids with chronic medical conditions such as asthma or digestive problems, especially if they're taking medications. (Be sure to talk with your child's doctor before starting a supplement if your child is on medication.)
- Kids eating a lot of fast food, convenience food, and processed food
- Kids on a vegetarian or a vegan diet (they may need an iron supplement), a dairy-free diet (they may need a calcium supplement), or other restricted diet
- Kids who drink a lot of carbonated sodas, which can leach vitamins and minerals from their bodies"
With all the vitamin products out there marketed to kids, which are best? The good people at MultivitaminGuide do a good job at breaking it down:
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
Here are the top 5 best vitamins for kids according to MultivitaminGuide:
1. Naturelo Chewable Vitamins for Kids
37 quality ingredients from the source. A leader in kids vitamins.
2. XtendLife Total Balance Children's
84 quality ingredients for kids 5 through 12.
5. Solgar Kangavite Chewable Tablets
These kids vitamins taste great and deliver all the nutrients kids needs.
Here is some supplemental information on how MultivitaminGuide calculates their rankings:
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 which 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.
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.