Nutrient Round-Up: What Are the Best Vitamins for Kids?
- Children need many essential nutrients for their bodies to develop and work as they should.
- The essential vitamins are vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K, while some of the most important minerals are calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
- Each of these has a specific role to play in the body.
- The best vitamins for kids come from a healthy and balanced diet of whole foods.
- However, if your child isn’t getting the nutrients they need from their diet, you may need to give them dietary supplements to fill the gaps.
We all need a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals for health and wellness, but getting those nutrients is especially important for growing children. After all, their little bodies are still developing, and this is your window of opportunity to make a real difference.
Getting the best vitamins for kids into them early on produces healthy children, with strong bones and muscles, good digestion and absorption of nutrients, and a resilient immune system that protects and defends them from infection. It also teaches healthy habits that will stand your little one in good stead for the rest of their life.
Let’s look at what the best vitamins for kids are and why they’re so important. We’ll also explore how you can do your best to make sure they get them — preferably without too much drama on your part or theirs.
Why Your Child Needs the Best Vitamins for Kids
Your child’s little body — if it’s doing its job well — is designed to extract essential nutrients from what they consume. If their diet is healthy and consists primarily of a wide range of whole foods, there’s a good chance they’re getting most of the nutrients they need. A healthy, balanced diet includes the right amounts of protein, whole grains, fresh fruit and veggies, and healthy fats.
However, some kids’ dietary requirements are not met by the food they eat. For example, they may be vegetarian or simply a picky eater, or they have a condition that affects their body’s ability to absorb nutrients, like celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In cases like this, you may need to add vitamin supplements to the mix — after consulting your pediatrician, of course.
Always start with whole foods as the foundation of your child’s diet though. Under normal circumstances, it really does provide most of what your little one needs.
Kids Vitamins: How Much They Need
It’s good to know exactly how much of each nutrient your child needs — and that’s determined by children’s ages. In fact, too much of some nutrients can be toxic, so you need to make sure that even the best vitamins for kids are stored safely out of the reach of little hands.
Let’s have a look at where you can find the best vitamins for kids, starting with whole foods.
How to Source the Best Vitamins for Kids
Each of these essential vitamins has multiple functions in the body — we’ve listed just a few of the most important. Your child’s body can’t make them, so they must come from their diet (or, in the case of vitamin D, from sunlight). Fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in the body, while water-soluble ones can’t, so your little one needs them more regularly.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s involved in many critical functions in the body, including the development of essential organs — like the heart, lungs, and kidneys — while your baby is still in the womb. It’s also essential for healthy eyes, skin, and hair, as well as for a strong immune system.
Where to get vitamin A: Whole grains, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables like spinach, carrots, butternut squash, broccoli, tomatoes, mangos, papaya, and apricots
Vitamin B isn’t just one vitamin — it’s actually a range of water-soluble B vitamins, including:
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (niacin)
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
- Vitamin B7 (biotin)
- Vitamin B9 (folate/folic acid)
- Vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin)
Each of the B vitamins has its own specific functions, but as a group, they keep the cells and tissues of the body functioning correctly, creating new cells and keeping existing ones healthy. They also support metabolism, converting food into energy that the body can use, and help maintain the immune and nervous systems.
Where to get the B vitamins: Nutritional yeast; legumes like soybeans, lentils, and chickpeas; grains like brown rice; sweet potatoes; avocados; oranges; leafy greens like spinach and collard greens; peanuts; and sunflower seeds
Vitamin C — another water-soluble vitamin that’s also known as ascorbic acid — is perhaps best-known for supporting immune health. It’s also involved in producing and maintaining body tissues like your muscles, bones, skin, teeth, and gums, and it helps with healing wounds and bruises. And just as importantly, it helps the body to absorb iron, which supports the red blood cells that transport oxygen around your little one’s body. Vitamin C-rich foods are best consumed raw or only lightly cooked, as cooking destroys vitamin C.
Where to get vitamin C: Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and tangerines; berries like blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries; guavas; mangos; tomatoes; peppers; Brussels sprouts; broccoli; and green leafy veg like kale and spinach
Vitamin D, otherwise known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is critical for bone health. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin that helps your little one’s body absorb calcium and phosphorus, building and maintaining strong and healthy bones, and preventing conditions like rickets, which can cause stunted growth and bowed legs. It also supports the cardiovascular, nervous, and immune systems, so your child’s whole body functions well.
Where to get vitamin D: 10-15 minutes of direct sunlight a day, and mushrooms — especially wild mushrooms but also other mushrooms exposed to ultraviolet light
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant, protecting your child’s cells from oxidative damage by free radicals. It also helps to support the immune and cardiovascular systems and is involved with interactions between the cells of the body.
Where to get vitamin E: Vegetable oils like sunflower and wheat germ, nuts like almonds and peanuts, seeds like sunflower seeds, and green veggies like spinach and broccoli
Vitamin K, another fat-soluble vitamin, isn’t one of the better-known vitamins but it’s important for kids, especially as it’s critical for blood clotting — and as we all know, active children are prone to injuries. It also helps with building strong bones, supporting the cardiovascular system, and helping to manage blood sugar.
Where to get vitamin K: Soybean products like soy milk, tofu, and natto (fermented soybean); green leafy veg like spinach and kale; broccoli; Brussels sprouts; and cabbage
Where to Get the Best Minerals for Kids
When it comes to minerals and other nutrients, these are some of the most important:
Calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth, especially early on in a child’s life when they’re building out their bone mass. It also helps with regulating muscle movement — including the heartbeat — as well as blood pressure and hormones, and is involved in nerve signaling.
Where to get calcium: Legumes like beans, chickpeas, and soybeans; leafy greens; butternut; sweet potato; seeds like chia and sesame; nuts like almonds and brazil nuts; rhubarb; and figs
Magnesium supports the cardiovascular, muscular, and nervous systems, and strengthens the immune system. It helps your little one keep up their energy and stay mentally focused, as well as reducing stress and helping to manage emotional conditions like anxiety and depression.
Where to get magnesium: Broccoli; leafy green vegetables; legumes like kidney and black beans; grains like brown rice and oats; nuts like almonds, brazils, and cashews; and seeds like sunflower, chia, and pumpkin seeds
Iron is critical for producing hemoglobin, which helps to deliver oxygen around the body, so the cells, tissues, and muscles can function. It also supports the immune system and cognitive function, including intelligence and attention span.
Where to get iron: Soy products like tofu; other legumes like lentils, chickpeas and beans; whole grains like quinoa; nuts like cashews; dark leafy veg and salad greens; squash; and seeds
Zinc is essential for healthy growth and development, and supports both the innate and adaptive immune systems. It’s involved in digestion and wound healing, and supports cognitive functions like attention, memory, and learning.
Where to get zinc: Legumes like soybeans, lentils, chickpeas, and beans; whole grains like brown rice and quinoa; seeds like pumpkin, hemp, and chia; nuts like walnuts and almonds; wheatgerm; molasses; and yeast
Probiotics and Prebiotics
Probiotics and prebiotics both support digestion and keep the immune system strong. Probiotics are good bacteria in your little one’s digestive system that help them to digest and absorb nutrients from their food. Prebiotics are less-digestible fiber that feeds the probiotics, helping them to do their work.
Where to get probiotics: Yogurt, cottage cheese, buttermilk, sauerkraut, and kimchi
Where to get prebiotics: Oats, wheat, barley, bananas, berries, apples, tomatoes, onion, and garlic
The omega-3s include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). They’re essential for the health of the brain and central nervous system, as well as for the heart and cardiovascular system. They also improve sleep and nutrient absorption, and help to decrease inflammation in the body.
Where to get omega-3s: Seaweed; soybeans; nuts like walnuts; seeds like flax, chia, and hemp; spinach; beans; Brussels sprouts; cauliflower; and squash
When Your Little One May Need Children’s Multivitamins
As we’ve already mentioned, the best vitamins for kids come from a balanced diet of whole foods. However, if you’re worried that your child may not be getting enough of those nutrients, it’s worth checking with your healthcare practitioner about whether they might benefit from a daily multivitamin and/or mineral supplement.
Kids’ multivitamins come in many different combinations and flavors, which are designed to appeal to little ones. You’ll find different forms too, from powders and liquid vitamins to chewable tablets and gummy multivitamins. There are also mineral supplements available.
When you look on Amazon, you’ll notice that there are many complete multivitamins available — in fact, the choice can be rather overwhelming.
So how on earth do you decide between the multitude of brands out there? We have a few pointers that might help.
The Best Multivitamin Supplements for Kids
There are a few key things to look out for when selecting the best vitamins for kids:
- Make sure the dietary supplement you choose is specially formulated for kids. While little ones need the same vitamins and minerals that adults do, they usually need less because … well, they’re little ones.
- Decide what forms would suit your child best. Liquid vitamins and powders — which easily mix into other foods — are usually best for babies and very young children. Older children can manage chewable tablets and often particularly enjoy kids’ gummy vitamins.
- If you’re buying a multivitamin, check that it includes all these vitamins:
- Vitamin A
- The B vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D3
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K1
- You can then add any additional supplements you feel your child may need, like calcium, magnesium, or probiotics.
- Bear in mind that the FDA regulates dietary supplements differently from food and drugs, so do your research beforehand to make sure the brand you choose is reputable, and preferably third-party tested.
- Avoid brands that contain added sugar (which includes high fructose corn syrup) or artificial sweeteners, even if they’re fortified with added vitamins. Sugar-free is your best option. You’ll also want to steer clear of anything with artificial flavors, artificial colors, or preservatives, as well as fillers like soy and gluten, which are common allergens.
Rather, opt for a product that’s as natural as possible, like Llama Naturals Multivitamin Gummies for Kids. They contain 13 essential plant-based vitamins and they’re naturally sweet and delicious — no added sugar or artificial sweeteners necessary — because they’re made from real fruit and veggies, slow-cooked to retain all the nutrients. They’re also free of gelatin and all those other nasties we’ve just mentioned, and they’re certified organic by the USDA, which means they’re non-GMO too. You can’t get cleaner than that.
The Best Vitamins for Kids Give Them the Best Start in Life
Children’s bodies are still developing so it’s especially important for them to get all the essential vitamins and other nutrients they need. These include vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K, as well as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Each of the best vitamins for kids has a particular function and together they support a strong and healthy body.
The best sources of these nutrients are whole foods, which makes it especially important for your little one to learn to eat (and hopefully start enjoying) their veggies. There are some “superstar” sources that provide a wide range of nutrients, including leafy greens, broccoli, legumes, and seeds, but each type of food has its role to play.
If your child is struggling to get enough of the critical nutrients from their food, it’s worth considering a high-quality and delicious multivitamin supplement to top up those vitamins. Now’s the time to set them up for a lifetime of health and all the energy they need to achieve their dreams.
Llama Naturals is a plant-based nutrition brand that has created the World's First Whole Fruit Gummy Vitamins that are made with no added sugar and whole-food vitamins. They are USDA Organic, Vegan, Gluten Free, free of common allergens, and are slow-cooked on low heat to retain rich phytonutrients & fruit flavor. It’s a win-win gummy vitamin that the whole family will love.