Before You Buy Children's Vitamins - What You Need to Know

What You Need To Know About Childhood Vitamins and Minerals

Young girl frowning at vegetables on dinner plate
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What should you know about supplemental vitamins and minerals before you head to the pharmacy?  What should you know about iron, calcium, fluoride and combination multivitamins for infants and children?

Supplemental Vitamins and Minerals for Children

Most children do not need supplemental vitamins or minerals. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a diet based on the food guide pyramid provides adequate amounts of all the vitamins a child needs.

Still, there are situations where children's vitamins are necessary, especially if your child is a very picky eater or has a poor diet, that doesn't include a lot of iron rich foods. Some vegetarians may also need vitamins to meet all of their nutritional needs.  Let's take a look at some individual nutrients, and what you need to know as a parent.


Children and adolescents need the mineral iron to prevent anemia. Those most at risk of iron deficiency anemia in childhood are infants who are not given extra iron after six months of age (usually in the form of an iron fortified infant cereal) and babies who drink low-iron formula, cow's milk or goat's milk. Good sources of iron include meats, fish, legumes, and fortified foods, such as breads and cereals. Adolescent girls are also at risk of anemia once they begin having their periods.  Sources of supplemental iron could include:

  • Flintstones Children's Chewable Multivitamin, Tablets, plus Iron
  • Poly-Vi-Sol Vitamin Drops With Iron
  • Pokemon Children's Multiple Vitamin with Iron, Chewable Tablets
  • Fer-In-Sol Iron Supplement Drops
  • Feosol Tablets and Caplets

Vitamin D

According to American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations, exclusively breastfed infants or babies drinking less than 1 liter of baby formula should receive 400 IU of vitamin D each day.

Older children who don't drink at least 1000 ml (about 32 ounces) of vitamin D fortified milk will also need vitamin D supplements.  Since a significant number of children have been found to be vitamin D deficient in the United States, it's important to learn more about vitamin D requirements and other sources in which it is found.


Calcium is another important mineral, and it is necessary for healthy bones and teeth.  Children who drink milk and eat dairy products, such as yogurt, ice cream and cheese, usually get enough calcium from their diet. Children with milk allergies, lactose intolerance, or who just don't like milk are a little more of a challenge to meet these requirements, but it is still easy if you find other foods high in calcium, such as calcium fortified orange juice. Vitamins, even those with extra calcium, generally only have about 200mg, or 20% of daily requirements, so you usually also need to supplement these vitamins with foods labeled 'High in Calcium'.  Some supplemental sources of calcium include:

  • Calcium Gummy Bears
  • Herbasaurs Calcium for Kids
  • Flintstones Children's Chewable Multivitamin, Tablets, plus Calcium
  • Scooby-Doo! plus Calcium, Chewable Tablets


Most children get enough fluoride to build healthy teeth if they are drinking fluoridated water, either from tap water in a city that adds fluoride to the water, or bottled water that also has added fluoride. Since too much fluoride can cause staining of your child's teeth, talk with your Pediatrician or Dentist before giving your child fluoride supplements.

  • Poly-Vi-Flor

Infant's Multivitamins

Multivitamins for infants are available as drops and usually contain Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D. They may also have added iron (see above) and other vitamins and minerals, such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin E.

  • Tri-Vi-Sol Drops
  • Poly-Vi-Sol Drops
  • Gerber Vitamin Drops

Children's Multivitamins

Multivitamins for older children are usually given as a chewable tablet. Finding your child's favorite character may make taking vitamins easy and fun.

  • Centrum Kids Chewable Vitamins
  • Flintstones Children's Chewable Multivitamin
  • Pokemon Children's Vitamins
  • Bugs Bunny Children's Vitamins
  • Scooby-Doo! Complete Multivitamin / Multimineral Supplement, Chewable Tablets

Keep in mind that many "complete multivitamins" do not have all of the recommended amounts of the vitamins and minerals that your child needs each day and most don't have enough calcium.

Special Circumstances

The above recommendations are based on healthy children with a regular diet.  If you and your family consume a vegetarian or vegan diet, talk with your pediatrician or nutritionist.  Nutrients such as vitamin B12 may be difficult to obtain in these diets, and supplementation may need to be considered.  Children with medical conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and others may also need supplements that would not be needed without the condition.

Bottom Line

Ideally, most nutrients can be obtained through an all around healthy diet.  While we can supplement some nutrients, there may very well be nutrients we are not yet aware of, or nutrients found in foods that work together for health.  To understand this, consider what we have learned with adults and lung cancer.  Adults who eat diets high in beta-carotene have a lower risk.  Adults who take a supplement of beta-carotene, however, have a higher risk.  It's likely that we'll learn that similar processes occur in the diets of children, and that there are compounds not yet identified that are important for health and can only be found in a varied diet containing a broad range of fruits and vegetables.


American Academy of Pediatrics. Nutrition an Supplement Use. Updated 11/24/15.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vitamin D Supplementation. Accessed 04/03/16.

Duryea, T. Introducing solid foods and vitamin and mineral supplementation during infancy. UpToDate. Updated 03/04/16.

Kang, M., Kim, D., Lee, H. et al. The nutrition contribution of dietary supplements on total nutrient intake in children and adolescents. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2016. 70(2):257-61.

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