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Are Your Kids Getting the Vitamins They Need?

“Hooray! Vitamins!”

If I told you that my kids literally jump for joy at vitamin time, you might think I was lying. Or perhaps the candylike cartoon bites from your own childhood come to mind. Either way, I promise you it’s true. My girls, ages 2 and 3, grab for their small daily assortment of colorful vitamins, minerals and essential fats with baby-toothed grins stretched ear to ear.

I was someone who, before having children, claimed I’d never serve a vitamin that looked like candy. Well, times change and so do parents as we navigate the fun and frustrations of raising kids. Let’s face it. If kids’ supplements don’t look and taste good, vitamin time is a losing battle. Luckily, there are plenty of options — chewables, gummies, powder and liquid forms — that don’t contain artificial sweeteners, artificial colors and fillers that are best to avoid.

The bottom line is that just like adults, kids and teens should be taking a multivitamin. The experts say, “Serve your children a variety of healthy foods, and they’ll get all the nutrients they need.” Hmmm. Easier said than done. We all know that kids will be kids, and mac and cheese – organic or not – can only go so far when it comes to nutrition. And as they get bigger and schedules get busier, meals often become an after-thought.

So, what could they be missing? It starts with the basics. Vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C and vitamin D are in the spotlight. All are vital for the immune system, and vitamin A is essential for growth and development. The B vitamins are a concern for kids who eat a lot of processed foods and refined carbohydrates (“More crackers, Mommy?”)  B vitamins are needed for energy and brain function, and stress tends to deplete them.

Vitamin C is a major antioxidant in the body and is needed for healthy inflammation response and brain function. Vitamin D plays a major role in bone development and general health. Plus, more and more research is emerging about its relationship to diseases. Sunscreen blocks skin’s production of natural vitamin D, so supplements are key. Luckily, all of these power-hitters are included in kids’ multivitamins.

What else is important?

Essential fatty acids, or EFAs, are crucial for the immune system, brain function, nerve and hormone development and healthy skin, just to name a few. A high-quality, omega-3 supplement accompanies the multivitamin for our girls, along with extra vitamin D. (For those of us who don’t get a lot of calcium from our diet, a calcium supplement that includes vitamin D is a good way to go.)

There are also times (hopefully not all at once!) when kids’ supplements can help with issues beyond daily nutrition. Kids and teens get sick, have digestive issues, problems with concentration or sleep or stress. That’s why we’ve always got elderberry concentrate, astragalus root, vitamin C, stinging nettles and a high-quality probiotics supplement at hand in our house. Some of them are even available in tasty forms.

I’m open to other suggestions. How do you get your kids to take their vitamins? Let me know!

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35 comments

Comments

Barbara Formica says …

We take ours as a family. Since they were babies they have been taking vitamins and as a Mom we set the example so as I take mine they take theirs. Just as with getting them to eat healthy I don't give them a choice. Some days when things get hectic and I forget they are my sweet reminders.

Melissa says …

Can you recommend a high-quality, omega 3 supplement for kids?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@MELISSA - You bet! There is a DHA option for kiddos listed on our website at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/dha-gummies-kids. Let us know how they like it!

Deb Colbert says …

This is an oustanding pievce and offers great advice to parents of young -- and teenage -- kids. Thank you for the insights!!!

Katie says …

The little kids I watch rave about Smartypants ... and yes a 5 year old can rave about a gummy vitamin!

ES says …

This is quackery. Though I'm sure it helps vitamin sales, the assertion that "kids and teens should be taking a multivitamin" is without foundation in medicine. Here are the citations. Shorter: don't trust a Whole Foods to give you medical advice. http://t.co/Syw1RdFc For those with access, see http://www.uptodate.com/contents/dietary-recommendations-for-toddlers-preschool-and-school-age-children?source=preview&anchor=H25&selectedTitle=20~150#H25

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@ES - Thanks for your comment. As you'll see in the second paragraph, the information coincides with the information you referenced in that it is recommended to “serve your children a variety of healthy foods, and they’ll get all the nutrients they need.” We are by no means attempting to offer medical advice to parents but we want to offer various options if this is something their health care professional recommends for their family.

Rebecca Street says …

We recently became the parents to three toddlers ages 2, 3, & 4. They came to us all underweight/height along with one with a "failure to thrive" diagnosis. I don't know where to even begin on a vitamin and/or supplement for them. Your advise would be great! While I'm asking what would you advise for myself 35 year old who is on a few prescription meds an antibiotic and one for anxiety.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@REBECCA - Since we are a grocery store, we would highly encourage you to check with your health care professional first before making any changes to your or your children's' diet. If your doctor recommends any vitamins or supplements for your family, stop by your local store and a Whole Body team member should be able to help you choose items based on the recommendations. I hope this helps!

goodeatinmama says …

Are your Chewy Multivitamins Kids Gummy Fruits gluten free?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@GOODEATINMAMA - I checked with our Whole Body department and they are not labeled as being gluten free. I would recommend that you reach out to your local store for a comprable gluten free option. They'll be happy to help! http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list.

Alma Cortez says …

I like the vitamins for kids.

J says …

My son is ADD and takes concerta. I am trying to find a multivitamin that is dye free. What would you recommend. Also what is elderberry concentrate and what is it used for? Is this something that would be put in a smoothie??

J says …

Are all the listed items safe to be taken together at one time for a child? Perhaps in a smoothie blend??

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@J - Our products vary between locations so I would suggest reaching out to your local store to see if what multi-vitamins they carry. Elderberry contains flavonoids which some say helps build immunity, reduce swelling and fights inflammation. I would highly recommend speaking with your health care professional before adding any supplements to your son's diet.

nicky says …

I have two toddlers who are anemic. They take the Alive brand chewable multivitamin but there's no iron in it. Do you carry a iron chewable or liquid for kids. If yes, is there one that's slow release so they wont get constipated?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@NICKY - Our products vary between store locations so I would check with your local store to see what options they carry. As always, it's a great idea to speak with your healthcare professional before adding a new supplement to their diet.

Gail says …

I have read that most vitamins contain lead and that very few don't. Do you have a multivamin with iron and minus lead?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@GAIL - Since our products vary between locations, check with your local store to see what options they have in stock!

Khaled Akhras says …

not this time

Brenna says …

Everyone loves it when people come together and share ideas.

CRS says …

Quote (third paragraph): "The bottom line is that just like adults, kids and teens should be taking a multivitamin." Not so, according to the Canadian Pediatric Society, Health Canada, the BC Ministry of Health and the American Association of Pediatrics. There is insufficient scientific evidence to support the assertion that multivitamins are properly absorbed and utilized by the body. Furthermore, gummy and candy vitamins teach children one thing, which is to like candy and sweet stuff. They do nothing to improve your child's health or eating habits. Gummy vitamins are, in essence, overpriced candy. If you really need to supplement your child's diet, you can mix unflavoured powder or liquid versions of various nutrients into smoothies, yoghurt or applesauce. No need to cultivate the candy habit.

elizabeth says …

I have read articles about vitamins manufactured in the US but sourced from China--where the water used to extract and create the vitamins has toxins such as heavy metals (pets have died from toxic pet food sourced form China). Can you verify where the vitamins sold at Whole Foods are sourced even when manufactured in the US?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@ELIZABETH - Since our products vary between stores, it would be best to ask your local store if they have this info for a specific product you are looking for.

Jaweriah says …

Are these vitamins gelatin free?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@JAWERIAH - It will depend on the brand of vitamins. If you are looking for a particular type, check with your local store and they'll be happy to check the ingredient list.

Brenda says …

I am looking for a good multivitamin for my 15-yr old daughter that contains Vitamin D & Calcium as well. She prefers chewables. Do you have any Garden Of Life vitamins that fit this description or if not, what do you suggest? Thank You

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@BRENDA - Since our products differ between stores, I would suggest reaching out to your local store to speak with the Whole Body department. As always, consult with your healthcare professional before adding anything new to your daughter's diet.

Stefeni says …

Is there a vegan food based multivitamin + DHA in one for toddlers?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@STEFENI - Our supplement options will differ between stores. Check with a Whole Body team member so they can let you know what they have in stock. As always, check with your healthcare professional first before adding anything new to your toddlers diet.

Veronica says …

What's the sugar contents?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@VERONICA - It depends on the vitamin you are curious about. Check with your local store and they will be happy to let you know the sugar content of the specific item you are looking for.

Laila Valliani says …

is this vitamin has any kind of gelatin. We don't eat porcine gelatin. Please advice

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LAILA - The 365 kids multi-vitamin does have gelatin from bovine sources. Hope this helps!

Sabrina Levy says …

My sisters and I have taken the vitamins shown there for 2 years and we love them. But, if this goes to the company, we all agree that the pineapples are not good.