DO KIDS NEED TO TAKE A MULTIVITAMIN?

As a nutritionist, my preference will always be for kids to get all the nutrients they need through food, and improving their diet is key in my treatment. Unfortunately the world we live in makes it really hard for kids – and adults – to meet all of their nutritional needs through food alone, for a couple of reasons…

  • The Standard Australian Diet (SAD) is higher in ultra-processed foods and lower in real whole foods – only 5% of Aussie kids eat the recommended 5 servings of veggies per day.
  • Kids are exposed to an increased amount of environmental toxins and chemicals and their bodies require more nutrients in order to detoxify these properly.
  • Kids are under more stress, depleting their bodies nutrient stores and further increasing their needs.
  • The soil that our crops are grown in has become depleted of nutrients thanks to over-farming and the use of pesticides and other agrochemicals – even if kids were eating the recommended 5 servings of veggies per say, they still may not be getting sufficient nutrition.

Basically, kids are requiring more nutrients, and getting less of them.

For generally well kids that eat a nourishing, balanced diet and lead a healthy active lifestyle, a multivitamin every couple of days is a good insurance policy to top up some key nutrients to their optimal level. I also find this helps parents relax more when it comes to feeding their kids, if they know they’ve got this support whilst they work on improving the variety in their child’s diet.

There are a few instances where a daily multivitamin would be indicated, like: picky eating, poor appetite, delayed growth and development, mood and behavioural issues, poor immune function, eczema and allergies.

Unless one has been professionally prescribed though, I wouldn’t recommend a multivitamin for children under 2yo.

WHAT I LOOK FOR IN A KIDS MULTIVITAMIN
  • Zinc – it’s important for growth and development, immune function, gut and digestive health, and brain health. A lot of kids are deficient in zinc, which can contribute to other common health issues.
  • Iron – it’s important for energy and brain function. Not all kids need that much – unless they are consuming a vegan or vegetarian diet – so iron doesn’t need to be present in a large dose.
  • Magnesium – it’s the fourth most common mineral in the body, and one that most kids are deficient in. It helps to calm the stress response, ease anxiety, boost mood, support healthy bones, nerve function, and restorative sleep. It can be hard to get enough through the diet as it’s often depleted in the soils. Children that are the most prone to magnesium deficiencies are the ‘picky eaters’ and those who consume a low fibre, low vegetable or highly processed diet.
  • Iodine – it’s one most kids struggle to get enough of, unless they consume seaweed and seafood regularly. It’s essential for brain development and thyroid function.
  • Vitamin D – it’s essential for healthy immune function, and helping bones and teeth absorb calcium. Despite living in a sun-drenched country, most kids could do with a little extra vitamin D.
  • Calcium – it’s one to look for if your child is on a diary-free diet. Calcium doesn’t just play a role in healthy bones and teeth, it’s important for nerve and muscle function as well.
  • B Vitamins – a good dose of B12 is particular important for kids on a vegan or vegetarian diet, as it’s only found in animal products. They need B12 to make red blood cells, and carry oxygen through the body.
KIDS MULTIVITAMIN COMPARISON
Centrum Kids Multivitamin

Strawberry flavoured chewable. Available at pharmacies, supermarkets.

Zinc – 1mg

Iron – 1.5mg

Magnesium – 5mg

Calcium – 12mg

Iodine – 0

Vitamin D – 100IU

B vitamins – B1 (1mg), B2 (1.2mg), B3 (15mg), B5 (4.5mg), B6 (2mg), folic acid (0.10mg) and B12 (0.001mg).

These contain more fillers – artificial sweetener, soy, sulfites, flavourings and tabletting aids – than actual nutrients.

Blackmores Super Kids Multi

Strawberry flavoured chewable. Available at pharmacies and supermarkets.

Zinc – 1mg

Iron – 1.25mg

Magnesium – 24mg

Calcium – 5mg

Iodine – 0.075mg

Vitamin D – 100IU

B vitamins – B1 (0.35mg), B2 (0.55mg), B3 (6mg), B5 (1.5mg), B6 (0.53mg), folic acid (0.55mg) and B12 (0.0007mg).

Contains a nice amount of iodine, but everything else is on the lower side and many of the B vitamins are in micro-doses. It’s free from artificial flavours and colours and sweetened with stevia.

JS Health, Kids Multivitamin

Strawberry flavoured chewable. Available online.

Zinc – 3mg

Iron – 1mg

Magnesium – 10.3mg

Iodine – 0.05mg

Vitamin D – 100IU

B vitamins – B1 (2.03mg), B2 (2.5mg), B3 (6mg) B5 (4.58mg), B6 (4.11mg), folinic acid (0.10mg), B12 (0.05mg)

Contains a decent amount of zinc and B12 and there is a little iodine, but everything else is on the low side – disappointing considering the name behind the brand is a nutritionist. There was no information on what was used to sweeten these, it just says they’re 99.6% sugar free.

Fusion Health Kids’ Nutrient Ninja

Vanilla Berry flavour chewable. Available at chemists and health food stores.

Zinc – 1.5mg

Iron – 2.5mg

Magnesium – 15mg

Calcium – 5.1mg

Iodine – 0.045mg

Vitamin D – 100IU

B vitamins – B1 (1.6mg), B2 (1mg), B3 (3mg), B5 (1.6mg), B6 (0.82mg), folic acid (0.10mg) and B12 (0.0024mg).

Contains a little bit of iron, but everything else is on the lower side and many of the B vitamins are in micro-doses. Contains ziziphus, which is traditionally used to calm the mind and ease nervous tension in Chinese medicine. It’s free from artificial flavours and colours and sweetened with monk fruit and xylitol and naturally coloured with beetroot.

Nature’s Way, Kids’ Smart Vita Gummies Multivitamin & Minerals

Berry flavoured gummy. Available at supermarkets at chemists.

Zinc – 1mg

Iron – 2.3mg

Magnesium – 10mg

Iodine – 0

Vitamin D – 0

B vitamins – B1 (0.15mg), B2 (0.15mg), B5 (2mg), B6 (0.50mg), B3 (4.5mg), B7 (3mg) and B12 (0.0005mg)

These gummies contain liquid glucose, soy, artificial sweetener, sulfites and a berry flavour. There’s a little bit of iron in them but really, they’re just lollies.

Juice Plus Orchard & Garden Chewables

Fruit flavoured chewable. Available through a Juice Plus representative.

Zinc – Unknown

Iron – Unknown

Magnesium – Unknown

Iodine – Unknown

Vitamin D – Unknown

B vitamins – Unknown

Unlike the other options, these chewables don’t contain individual nutrients. Instead, they use fruit and vegetable “powders and extracts”. They’re sweetened with 2 types of sugar, tapioca syrup and cane syrup and as there is not a known quantity of nutrients, we have to assume that the doses of nutrients are well below therapeutic.

Herbs of Gold Children’s Mutli Care

Strawberry-vanilla flavoured chewable. Available at pharmacies and supermarkets

Zinc – 1mg

Iron – 1mg

Magnesium – 5mg

Iodine – 0.075mg

Vitamin D – 100IU

B vitamins – B1 (1mg), B2 (1mg), B3 (1mg), B5 (1.5mg), B6 (0.82mg), folic acid (100mcg) and B12 (20mcg)

The nutrients in this are in micro-doses, but there is a good amount of iodine and B12 and it’s naturally sweetened with xylitol

Swisse Children’s Ultivite Multivitamin

Orange flavoured chewable. Available at supermarkets at chemists.

Zinc – 1mg

Iron – 2.3mg

Magnesium – 5mg

Iodine – 0

Vitamin D – 20IU

B vitamins – B1 (1mg), B2 (1mg), B3 (30mg), B5 (1.83mg), B6 (2mg) folic acid (0.01mg) and B12 (0.0003mg).

There’s a little bit of iron in them but the rest of the nutrients in this are in micro-doses and there’s no information on what is used as the sweetener.

Metagenics Multicare for Kids

Orange flavoured powder. Practitioner only brand, available through a qualified practitioner.

Zinc – 10mg

Iron – 5mg

Magnesium – 600mg

Iodine –  0.15mg

Vitamin D – 400IU

B vitamins – B1 (10mg), B2 (10mg), B3 (30mg), B5 (10mg), B6 (50mg) folate (0.20mg) and B12 (0.02mg).

There are excellent levels of all nutrients in this one and it’s naturally sweetened with stevia. It’s got a great dose of highly bioavailable magnesium and zinc, making it a good option for active kids and those who might be prone to stress and anxiety. It also contains a little bit of selenium which is essential for maintaining children’s healthy growth and development. It’s sweetened with stevia and the orange flavour mixes well with orange juice.

Orthoplex White Pure Children’s Essentials

Neutral flavoured powder. Practitioner only brand, available through a qualified practitioner.

Zinc – 6mg

Iron – 4mg

Magnesium – 130mg

Iodine – 0.09mg

Vitamin D – 400IU

B vitamins – B1 (3.92mg), B2 (3.65mg), B3 (15mg), B5 (15mg), B6 (4.69mg), folinic acid (0.20mg) and B12 (0.01mg)

This has really good levels of all nutrients. All the B vitamins are in their metabolically active form – this means the body doesn’t have to convert them in order to use them, so it’s a great option for kids who have issues with MTHFR. It also contains a little bit of selenium too. I like this one because it contains lysine, an amino acid that has anti-viral properties and good for kids prone to cold sores. I also like that it contains another amino acid, glycine that has a calming effect on the brain. It contains no flavours and is sweetened naturally with glycine. This formula is a good one for fussy eaters because it’s neutral in flavour and easy to mix in to juice, yoghurt or smoothies without changing the flavour.

MY PICK OF THE BEST KIDS MULTIVITAMIN

Metagenics and Orthoplex are at the top of my list. These are the ones I use in my clinical practice and give to my kids.

Blackmores would be the best pick from the supermarket/chemist brands but the amount of nutrients they contain are not at therapeutic levels and they do have some questionable ingredients. Fusion Health and JS Health would come next.

Herbs of Gold, Nature’s Way, Centrum, Juice Plus and Swisse are at the very bottom – don’t waste of money.

Every child will have their own unique nutritional needs, including the form of nutrients that best assimilate with their bodies. so it you’re wondering what the best mutivitamin is for your child, book an Express Virtual Consultation with me. You’ll have access to practitioner-only brands like Metagenics and Orthoplex, as well as professional advice on the supplements that are best for your child’s specific needs.

 

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