Children generally get the vitamins they need from food — and yes, that's true even for picky eaters, thanks to fortified foods, per the Mayo Clinic. But there are some kids who may benefit from supplements.
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"Vitamins are a good idea for children who may get distracted at meal times and don't always finish their food or eat enough throughout the day," says Jeanette Waegelein, RD, a registered dietitian who focuses on functional medicine.
And, of course, some children may need vitamins due to specific medical needs (think: anemia), says Aubrey Phelps, RDN, CLC, a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in perinatal and pediatric nutrition at Matrescence Nutrition.
Supplements could help make up for dietary shortfalls, but you should always talk to your child's pediatrician before giving them a new vitamin.
Why Opt for Liquid Vitamins
If you're on the lookout for a kid's vitamin, liquid is probably your best bet. "I love liquid vitamins because they are easy for kids to take," Waegelein says. Many can be mixed into food or drinks, for example.
Take a look at some of the advantages of this form of vitamin:
- Preferable to gummies and chewables: For kids, gummies and chewables are an appealing option. But "they tend to be lower in nutrients and higher in sugar," says registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist Sharon Puello, RD, CDN, founder of F.R.E.S.H Nutrition PLLC. Plus, they may pose a risk for tooth decay and cavities.
- Easy to take any time: Vitamins often need to be taken with fatty foods so the body can absorb them, Waegelein says. But liquid vitamins often are made with fatty acids. "Parents don't have to worry about making sure their children take their vitamins with a meal and can give them a spoonful any time of day."
- Can be added to food: "You can mix liquid vitamins into smoothies or drinks or even into something like yogurt or a fruit and veggie pouch," Phelps says.
Here's a look at some of the best liquid vitamins for kids out there on the market, according to the experts.
- Best Overall: Mary Ruth's Organics Liposomal Multivitamin ($26.96, Amazon)
- Best Vegetarian: Best Nest Multi+ for Kids ($35, Amazon)
- Best Probiotic: MetaKids Baby Probiotic ($45.50, Amazon)
- Best Iron: Mary Ruth’s Vegan Liquid Iron ($30.95, Amazon)
- Best for Babies: Garden of Life Baby Multivitamin Liquid ($20.07, Amazon)
- Best Omega-3: Nordic Naturals Children’s DHA ($22.36, Amazon)
How We Chose
To select this list of liquid vitamins for kids, we asked dietitians who work with kids for their expert recommendations.
We prioritized options from reputable supplement brands, and looked for vitamins with third-party certifications from organizations such as NSF International, Consumer Lab and United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), as well as products that adhered to the FDA's good manufacturing practices (CGMP).
1. Best Overall: Mary Ruth's Kids Liposomal Multivitamin
All of our experts agreed: Mary Ruth's is a standout brand. Waegelein appreciates that this particular product is an easy option for kids and parents alike.
This product contains a fat source to help with nutrient absorption, so you can give this multi to kids anytime — not just at meals."Its liposomal technology helps kids better absorb the vitamins and minerals," Waegelein says. "This is something you won't always find with a chewable multi."
This product is vegan and free from dairy, soy, gluten and MSG. It does not have any added sugars and kids ages 4 to 13 can take it; dosage varies by age.
"Mary Ruth's Kids has a nice variety of vitamins and minerals, including choline and zinc, which are essential for healthy brain development and growth," Phelps says. Although, she notes the product does not contain calcium or iodine.
Another thing to be aware of: Mary Ruth's website does not provide details about third-party testing. But, ConsumerLab has tested and approved several products from this line, including Mary Ruth's Liquid Ionic Zinc in the company's zinc review and Mary Ruth's Vegan Liquid Iron (one of ConsumerLab's top picks in their liquid iron review).
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $26.96
2. Best Vegetarian: Best Nest Multi+ for Kids
If you're looking for a kids' liquid multivitamin without any animal products, put this one in your cart. "Best Nest Multi+ for Kids is a better multivitamin option for plant-based kiddos because it has more zinc — a nutrient these diets tend to lack," Puello says. It also has iodine, which is important for children who don't eat fish.
Note: If your child eats seaweed, a food high in iodine, incorporating this multi might bump up their iodine intake too far, Puello says. This is another great reason to talk to your child's pediatrician before adding a supplement to their diet.
Best Nest Wellness products are made in GMP- and UL-certified facilities, according to the company's website. Third-party testing is done on both the ingredients and the finished products.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $35
3. Best Probiotic: MetaKids Baby Probiotic
You should tread carefully when it comes to probiotics for kids. "A multivitamin with probiotics should not be routinely used with children, including in cases of constipation," Puello says.
Instead, have your child take a probiotic when there's a call to do so (i.e. your pediatrician has recommended it), and not as part of a daily routine. "Strains that may benefit one child may result in unwanted stomach issues in another," Puello says.
As far as kids' probiotic options go, this one from MetaKids is a top choice. "You need a broad spectrum of bacteria, which all have unique functions to support the gut," Waegelein says. "Plus, this brand is great from a quality standpoint."
Metagenics, the maker of the supplement, emphasizes its commitment to quality and lists both NSF and USP certifications on its site.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $45.50
4. Best Iron: Mary Ruth’s Vegan Liquid Iron
Kids should only take iron if they need it. "In supplement form, it tends to be constipating and can upset little tummies," Phelps says. But, it may be required if your child:
- Has anemia or iron deficiency — children following a vegan or vegetarian diet should be tested routinely for iron deficiency, Puello advises.
- Was recently diagnosed with celiac — "Iron absorption can be compromised with celiac," Phelps says.
- Is on a proton pump inhibitor — "These may reduce stomach acid and compromise iron absorption," Phelps says.
- Isn't eating enough animal proteins — "Sometimes kids struggle with texture of animal products," Waegelein says. If they eat a diet low in animal products, have their iron checked.
"Iron is a nutrient that you only want to supplement if absolutely necessary, as iron in excess of need can negatively affect development, levels of other essential nutrients and digestion," Puello says. Always talk to your child's pediatrician before adding an iron supplement to their routine.
And when a vitamin is needed, think of it as a short-term add-on. "Once your child is on an iron supplement for a defined period of time, their blood levels should be re-checked until they return to normal levels," Puello says.
Iron is best taken on its own and not in a multi, Puello says: "It competes with other nutrients for absorption."
Both Waegelein and Puello recommend Mary Ruth's Vegan Liquid Iron.
"As a standalone iron supplement, Mary Ruth's Vegan Liquid Iron is a great option owing to the type of iron in it," Puello says. The supplement includes bisglycinate chelate, which is well-absorbed and may lead to fewer GI issues, she says.
A lack of an unpleasant aftertaste helps make this a top pick for liquid iron from ConsumerLab.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $30.95
5. Best for Babies: Garden of Life Baby Multivitamin Liquid
For the littlest of the bunch, "Garden of Life Baby is probably your best option," Phelps says.
The company's products are manufactured by current GMP third-party audited facilities and have many certifications, per the company's website. This liquid multi for babies is free from artificial ingredients, and is both organic and vegan.
"I wish it contained choline, but it's hard to find something that does everything," Phelps says.
That said, babies, in particular, may not need a supplement at all. "Most babies are getting what their bodies need from a nutrient standpoint," Waegelein says. It's best to ask your baby's pediatrician if supplementing is right for them.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $20.07
6. Best Omega-3: Nordic Naturals Children’s DHA
We know that older adults benefit from getting enough omega-3s in their diet, but the same may be true for kids. Phelps often recommends that children take a fish oil supplement, as many won't get enough of this fatty acid through their diet.
"Omega-3s are always a good option," Waegelein says. In children, DHA is important for eye and brain development. Research has shown a link between improved cognition and behavior in children taking supplements with polyunsaturated fatty acids, including DHA, per a July 2013 review in Nutrients.
One of Waegelein's preferred brands is Nordic Naturals — they also make our list of trustworthy vitamin brands.
Their children's DHA contains 530 milligrams of omega-3s in each 1/2-teaspoon serving.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $22.36
What to Look For in Kids' Liquid Vitamins
As you browse through the many liquid vitamins for kids, keep these considerations in mind.
The supplement industry is not heavily regulated, so it's wise to choose brands that go through third-party testing. "This means that the company uses an outside entity to evaluate their ingredients and quality," Waegelein says.
The Specific Vitamins in the Multi
If you're getting a multi, keep an eye on what's included. On Phelps' list when she checks a label: "Preformed vitamin A (not just beta-carotene), [and] at least 50 percent of your needs for vitamin D, choline, iodine, magnesium, selenium and zinc."
But, she says, it's not easy to find a multi with everything in it. "So I often look at the diet and see which is most lacking," Phelps says.
The Serving Size Information
Along with looking at the supplement's ingredients, take a look at the serving size, Phelps says. "Some say they meet 100 percent of your daily value, but the serving size is an ounce! That's a LOT to get a small kiddo to take," she points out.
Clear Dosing Information
Not all multis have a dosing schedule based on age available, Waegelein says. "I always recommend looking for ones that clearly state how much should be taken, as kids grow very quickly and have different needs based on age, weight and other factors."
Our experts all agreed: Kids' vitamins can be hidden sources of stuff you don't really want. "Comparing supplement labels and selecting the best liquid vitamins for kids means going with the option that has the least added sugar," Puello says. Plus, she adds, avoid artificial flavors and colors.
Check in With Your Child's Pediatrician First
Before giving your child liquid vitamins, check in with their pediatrician or a dietitian, Waegelein says. They can share specific recommendations based on your child's health and habits.
Often, it's better to take a vitamin that provides a specific missing nutrient, rather than a does-it-all supplement, Phelps says.
And when possible, opt for a food-first approach. "Remember that eating a diet with a lot of colorful foods and variety is the best way for your child to get the nutrients they need," Waegelein says.