9 Best Vitamins for Kids: Do They Need Them (and Which Ones)?
A quick look at the best vitamins for kids
As children grow, it’s important for them to get enough vitamins and minerals to ensure optimal health.
Most kids get adequate amounts of nutrients from a balanced diet, but under certain circumstances, children may need to supplement with vitamins or minerals.
This article tells you everything you need to know about vitamins for kids, whether your child may need them, and the 9 best products to choose.
How we chose
There are several important factors to consider when choosing a supplement for your child.
The products featured in this article were selected based on the following criteria:
- Quality and safety. All the products listed are made with safe, high quality ingredients.
- Ingredients. We looked for vitamins that are free of fillers, artificial flavors, food dyes, and preservatives.
- Dosage. We included products that are specifically formulated for infants or kids.
- Testing. All the vitamins listed are third-party tested to ensure safety and quality.
- Reputable brands. We selected products from well-known brands that adhere to strict manufacturing standards.
The products in this article were selected based on quality, ingredients, dosage, third-party testing, and adherence to strict manufacturing standards.
How to choose vitamins for kids
If your child follows a restrictive diet, cannot adequately absorb nutrients, or is a picky eater, they may benefit from taking vitamins.
Always discuss supplements with a healthcare professional before giving them to your child.
When choosing a supplement, look for quality brands that have been tested by a third party, such as NSF International, United States Pharmacopeia (USP), ConsumerLab.com, Informed-Choice, or the Banned Substances Control Group (BSCG).
Choose vitamins that are specifically made for kids and ensure they don’t contain megadoses that exceed the daily nutrient needs for children.
Vitamin and mineral precautions for children
Vitamin or mineral supplements can be toxic to children when taken in excess amounts. This is especially true of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are stored in body fat (1Trusted Source).
One case study reported vitamin D toxicity in a child who took too much of a supplement (2Trusted Source).
Gummy vitamins, in particular, can be easy to overeat. One study cited three cases of vitamin A toxicity in children due to overeating candy-like vitamins (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
It’s best to keep vitamins out of reach of young children and discuss appropriate vitamin intake with older kids to prevent accidental overeating of supplements.
If you suspect that your child has taken too much of a vitamin or mineral supplement, contact a healthcare professional or poison control center immediately.
When choosing a vitamin, look for high quality brands and supplements that contain the appropriate dosages of vitamins and minerals for children.
Our picks of the top vitamins for kids
Ritual Essential for Kids 4+
- Type: gummy
- Recommended age: 4–12 years
When giving your child a multivitamin, you want to ensure they’re getting only the good stuff and none of the bad — like GMOs, artificial colorants, preservatives, or synthetic fillers. That’s what you get with Ritual’s gummy multivitamin. It’s even sugar-free!
This vitamin, which is “made with picky eaters in mind,” includes 50 mg of brain-boosting omega-3 DHA and has a hearty dose of fiber in each serving.
It also features a delicious citrus berry flavor and is recommended for kids ages 4–12.SHOP NOW AT RITUAL
SmartyPants Kids Daily Multivitamin
- Type: gummy
- Recommended age: over 4 years
This vitamin brand is third-party lab tested, which means it meets or exceeds national standards. It’s also free of GMOs, synthetic colors, and artificial flavors and is particularly beneficial for children with allergies, since it’s milk-, egg-, nut-, soy-, gluten- and wheat-free.
What it does contain: 15 essential nutrients, including vitamin D3 for bone and immune health, vitamin B12 for energy, omega-3 EPA and DHA for heart and brain health, iodine for thyroid support, and vitamin E for antioxidant support.
This gummy multivitamin is available in several flavors and recommended for children over 4 years old.SHOP NOW AT AMAZON
Best multivitamin with probiotics
OLLY Kids Multi + Probiotic Gummy Multivitamin
- Type: gummy
- Recommended age: 2 years and older
This gummy multivitamin contains all the essential nutrients your growing child needs, including vitamins A, C, D, and E; B vitamins; and zinc. It also contains live probiotics — good gut bacteria that help keep tiny bellies balanced.
The addition of probiotics can come in especially handy if and when your child is taking antibiotics, since probiotics help prevent gut bacteria disruption, notes Elisa H. Song, MD, a Stanford- and UCSF-trained board certified holistic pediatrician.
This supplement is recommended for children ages 2 and up. However, keep in mind that the dosage may vary depending on your child’s age, so be sure to read the label carefully.SHOP NOW AT AMAZON
Garden of Life mykind Organics Kids Gummy Vitamins
- Type: gummy
- Recommended age: 4 years and older
Give your child a gummy multivitamin that you know isn’t processed and doesn’t contain candy-like ingredients or chemicals you can’t pronounce.
Each bottle contains nine USDA organic and non-GMO whole fruits, along with the essential nutrients and antioxidants your little one’s growing body needs.
Last, but certainly not least, this multivitamin is appropriate for children ages 4 and up and has great reviews for tasting delicious too!SHOP NOW AT AMAZON
Best for toddlers
Zarbee’s Naturals Complete Toddler Multivitamin
- Type: gummy
- Recommended age: 2–4 years
While most multivitamins are recommended for children ages 5 and up, this one is specifically formulated for children ages 2–4.
Zarbee’s formula is packed with all the essential vitamins — including A, C, D3, B6, B12, and folic acid — in a tasty, easy-to-chew gummy that’s sweetened with honey. Parents appreciate the wholesome ingredients, and their kiddos love the yummy taste.SHOP NOW AT AMAZON
Llama Naturals Plant-Based Vitamin Bites
- Type: gummy
- Recommended age: 4 years and older
This all-natural multivitamin tastes sweet, but it’s made with real fruit instead of sugar and doesn’t include fillers or other synthetic ingredients.
That’s one of the reasons it was voted Best Multivitamin 2019 by NEXTY.
It contains 13 highly concentrated vitamins plus phytonutrients gleaned from real fruits and veggies and comes in a tasty gummy form suitable for kids ages 4 and up.SHOP NOW AT AMAZON
Best vitamin D drops for infants
Nordic Naturals Baby’s Vitamin D3
- Type: liquid
- Recommended age: 0–12 months
Because breast milk doesn’t provide adequate amounts of vitamin D, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using a vitamin D supplement for breastfed and partially breastfed infants (5Trusted Source).
With 400 IU of vitamin D3 per serving, this liquid supplement is a great option for infants under 12 months to help support bone health and immune function.
It also contains just two ingredients and is free of GMOs and fillers to ensure the highest possible quality.SHOP NOW AT AMAZON
Best liquid multivitamin
Garden of Life Baby Multivitamin Liquid
- Type: liquid
- Recommended age: infants and toddlers
Liquid multivitamins are a convenient alternative to gummies and tablets, especially for infants and picky eaters.
This organic liquid supplement contains 13 essential vitamins and minerals. It’s also free of GMOs and artificial ingredients.
Plus, it’s easy to mix into foods or liquids and is suitable for both infants and toddlers (under the supervision of your pediatrician).SHOP NOW AT AMAZON
Best multivitamin with iron
Renzo’s Picky Eater Multi with Iron
- Type: dissolvable tablets
- Recommended age: 2 years and older
Many multivitamin supplements don’t contain iron, which is an important mineral involved in the production of healthy red blood cells (6Trusted Source).
Although most children can get enough iron from iron-rich foods, certain kids may be at a higher risk of iron deficiency, including picky eaters and those following a vegan or vegetarian diet.
These dissolvable tablets contain 18 vitamins and minerals, including iron, and are free of sugar and artificial colors and flavors. They are also vegan and can be used by children ages 2 and up.
Keep in mind that giving your infant or child too much iron can be dangerous. Make sure to have your child tested for iron deficiency before giving them an iron-containing supplement.SHOP NOW AT AMAZON
Nutrient needs for kids
Kids’ nutrient needs depend on age, sex, size, growth, and activity level.
According to health experts, children ages 2–8 require 1,000–1,400 calories each day. Kids ages 9–13 need 1,400–2,600 calories daily, depending on certain factors such as activity level (7, 8Trusted Source).
In addition to including enough calories, a child’s diet should meet the following Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) (9Trusted Source):
|Nutrient||DRI for ages 1–3||DRI for ages 4–8|
|calcium||700 mg||1,000 mg|
|iron||7 mg||10 mg|
|vitamin A||300 mcg||400 mcg|
|vitamin B12||0.9 mcg||1.2 mcg|
|vitamin C||15 mg||25 mg|
|vitamin D||600 IU (15 mcg)||600 IU (15 mcg)|
While the above nutrients are some of the most commonly discussed, they aren’t the only ones kids need.
Children need some amount of every vitamin and mineral for proper growth and health, but the exact amounts vary by age. Older children and teens need different amounts of nutrients than younger kids to support optimal health.
Do kids have different nutrient needs than adults?
Kids need the same nutrients as adults but usually require smaller amounts.
As children grow, it’s vital for them to get adequate amounts of nutrients that help build strong bones, such as calcium and vitamin D (10Trusted Source).
Moreover, iron, zinc, iodine, choline, and vitamins A, B6 (folate), B12, and D are crucial for brain development in early life (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).
Thus, although kids may need smaller amounts of vitamins and minerals than adults do, they still need to get enough of these nutrients for proper growth and development.
Kids usually need smaller amounts of vitamins and minerals than adults. Nutrients that help build bones and promote brain development are especially significant in childhood.
Do kids need vitamin supplements?
In general, kids who eat a healthy, balanced diet don’t need vitamin supplements.
However, infants have different nutrient needs than children and may require certain supplements, such as vitamin D for breastfed babies (5Trusted Source).
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the United States Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines for Americans don’t recommend supplements over and above the recommended dietary allowances for healthy children older than 1 year who eat a balanced diet.
These organizations suggest that kids eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products, and protein foods to obtain adequate nutrition (13, 14Trusted Source).
These foods contain all the necessary nutrients for proper growth and development in children (15Trusted Source).
Overall, kids who eat a balanced diet that includes all food groups don’t usually need vitamin or mineral supplements. However, the next section covers some exceptions.
Kids should eat a variety of foods to get the nutrients they need. Vitamins are usually unnecessary for healthy children who eat a balanced diet.
Some kids may need supplemental nutrients
Even though most children who eat a healthy diet don’t need vitamins, specific circumstances may warrant supplementation.
Certain vitamin and mineral supplements may be necessary for kids who are at risk of deficiencies, such as those who (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source):
- follow a vegetarian or vegan diet
- have a condition that affects the absorption of or increases the need for nutrients, such as celiac disease, cancer, cystic fibrosis, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- have had a surgery that impacts the intestines or stomach
- are extremely picky eaters and struggle to eat a variety of foods
In particular, kids who eat plant-based diets may be at risk of deficiencies in calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamins B12 and D — especially if they eat few or no animal products (16Trusted Source).
Vegan diets can be particularly dangerous for children if certain nutrients — such as vitamin B12, which is found naturally in animal foods — are not replaced through supplements or fortified foods.
Failing to replace these nutrients in children’s diets can lead to serious consequences, such as abnormal growth and developmental delays (20Trusted Source).
However, it’s possible for children on plant-based diets to get adequate nutrition from diet alone if their parents are incorporating enough plant foods that naturally contain or are fortified with certain vitamins and minerals (16Trusted Source).
Children with celiac disease or IBD may have difficulty absorbing several vitamins and minerals, especially iron, zinc, and vitamin D. This is because these conditions cause damage to the areas of the gut that absorb micronutrients (18Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).
On the other hand, kids with cystic fibrosis have trouble absorbing fat and, therefore, may not adequately absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K (17Trusted Source).
In addition, children with cancer and other diseases that cause increased nutrient needs may require certain supplements to prevent disease-related malnutrition (23Trusted Source).
Finally, some studies have linked picky eating in childhood to low intakes of micronutrients (Trusted Source19Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).
One study in 937 kids ages 3–7 found that picky eating was strongly associated with low intakes of iron and zinc (19Trusted Source).
Still, the results indicated that blood levels of these minerals were not significantly different in picky compared to non-picky eaters (19Trusted Source).
As a result, if you suspect that your child isn’t meeting their nutritional needs, its best to have them tested for nutritional deficiencies before giving them supplements.
Vitamin and mineral supplements are often necessary for kids who follow vegan or vegetarian diets, have a health condition that affects the absorption of nutrients, or are very picky eaters.
How to ensure your child is getting enough nutrients
To ensure children are getting adequate amounts of nutrients so that they don’t need supplements, make an effort to include a variety of nutritious foods in their diet.
Incorporating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and dairy products (if your child can tolerate them) into meals and snacks will likely provide enough vitamins and minerals.
To help your kid eat more produce, continually introduce new veggies and fruits prepared in different and tasty ways.
A healthy diet for kids should also limit added sugars and highly processed foods and focus on whole fruits over fruit juice.
However, if you feel that your child is not getting proper nutrition through diet alone, supplements can be a safe and effective method to deliver the nutrients children need.
Consult your child’s pediatrician or a registered dietitian if you’re concerned about your child’s nutritional intake.
By providing your child with a variety of whole foods, you can ensure they’re getting the nutrients needed for optimal health.
The bottom line
Kids who eat a healthy, balanced diet typically fulfill their nutrient needs through food.
Still, vitamin supplements may be necessary for picky eaters, children who have a health condition that affects nutrient absorption or increases nutrient needs, or those following a vegetarian or vegan diet.
When providing vitamins to children, be sure to choose high quality brands that contain appropriate doses for kids and stick to the recommended dosage.
It’s also best to be cautious of giving your child supplements without documented evidence of a deficiency.
To ensure your child is getting enough nutrients, try to offer them a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods and limits sweets and refined foods.