When Beach Girl was about 18 months old, her pediatrician recommended I start her on a multivitamin. I had no idea what to buy except that he recommended we avoid gummy vitamins. (They can get stuck in kids’ teeth and lead to cavities… obviously, not the outcome I’m hoping to get from my children’s multivitamin.) So, I went to Target and bought what I took as a kid – Flintstones vitamins. The pictures of Barney, Fred, and friends brought back sweet memories. I loved taking my vitamin as a kid!
But once I got home and opened the package, I realized my beloved cartoon characters probably weren’t naturally pink, orange, and purple. Sure enough, the vitamins contained artificial food dyes – Red #40, Yellow #6, and Blue #2. These dyes give me migraines and vertigo and I’ve read about the harmful effects these dyes can have on kids’ behavior (and seen the effects in my own kids when they’ve had a colored treat…). I definitely didn’t want to give my kids vitamins with these dyes in them! But, I also didn’t know what to get that wasn’t gummy or artificially colored.
After I posted about my supplements, I got a couple questions about what supplements I give my kids so thought I’d share them with you. (Thanks for your questions!) Don’t worry, my vitamin plan for my kids is much less intense than mine was. I only give them two things: a multivitamin and a Vitamin D supplement.
Multivitamin: Since our pediatrician recommended we avoid gummy vitamins and I’m determined to avoid food dyes, our options were very limited. We use Trader Joe’s Children’s Chewable Vitamins. They’re $5 for 100 tablets at our store, their dyes are plant-derived, the supplement amounts look good enough to me, and they apparently taste delicious. Months later, Beach Girl still gets excited to see what color and animal of vitamin she gets every night.
Vitamin D: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 400 IU of Vitamin D daily for all breastfed babies. In spite of the AAP recommendation, it’s a pretty controversial supplement; many sources I respect (including Kelly Mom) argue children can get enough Vitamin D simply from a few minutes of sunlight a day. Since I’m seriously Vitamin D deficient and Beach Girl has had respiratory issues (which some sources have linked to Vitamin D deficiency, like this one from the WHO), I’ve decided this is an especially important supplement for us.
Until a few months ago, the only form of Vitamin D supplement we had tried was Enfamil’s D-Vi-Sol. I was pretty skeptical of it because, well, it tastes terrible and I wasn’t thrilled about the ingredients. I didn’t like the idea that the only thing my children were ingesting besides breast milk during their first 6 months of life was a daily supplement filled with things like glycerin (which sometimes is derived from petroleum), artificial flavors (which can often include saccharin or aspartame), and artificial caramel color. Plus, that stuff is expensive – it’s $10 for 50 doses!
A few months ago, though, I spent some time researching a less expensive and, um, less nasty alternative and found Carlson For Kids Liquid Vitamin D3 Drops. I never thought I’d say this about a vitamin, but I love these drops. The only ingredients are Vitamin D3 and fractionated coconut oil. And, get this, the recommended 400IU of Vitamin D comes from one tiny drop (which made me realize just how much other junk must be in the Enfamil drops that it takes 1 mL of drops to get the one drop worth of Vitamin D). A bottle of the Carlson for Kids drops costs $14 and contains 365 drops – enough for a year! I just add it to my kids’ yogurt or other food and since it’s completely tasteless, they get their supplement without any fuss. I wish I could take all my supplements so easily… one tiny, tasteless drop in my food sounds a lot better than a pill!
So, there you have it: our straight-forward, dye-free, and either delicious or tasteless supplements for children. And that’s everything I know about multivitamins for kids!