Why My Kids Don’t Take Vitamins

A lot of readers have been asking me lately what kind of vitamins my kids take and the answer is…none at all. Vitamins aren’t necessarily harmful or going to cause medical problems when they’re used properly, but it’s not something we personally choose to deal with (or pay for).

First of all, we pretty much rely on our steady diet of whole foods (including lots of variety and plenty of produce) when it comes to getting all the vitamins and minerals we need. No one does a better job than nature when it comes to creating the perfect delivery package for the nutrients your body needs. Secondly, in Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food he indicates that those who take supplements may be “healthier for reasons having nothing to do with the pills” because in controlled studies most supplements “don’t appear to work.”

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Now a lot of doctors and nutritionists do recommend taking a daily multi-vitamin, and, since you should of course take your doctor’s advice over mine, I want to share some of the better vitamin brands that are out there. My doctor recently recommended that I take a short term Vitamin D booster, based on my most recent blood results, and when I was out shopping for this vitamin I couldn’t believe how many of them are full of junky additives! Vitamins, especially for kids, are oftentimes full of artificial sweeteners, colorings, and flavorings. I’ve found that there is a bigger – and better – selection if you shop at places like Amazon.com as well as stores that are dedicated to vitamins and health like Swanson Health Products or your local Vitamin Shoppe. I’ll warn you now to just forget Target when it comes to shopping for vitamins because the choices there are pretty slim.

Yummy Bears Organics Multivitamin for children

So for all those that feel better about taking (or giving their kids) a regular multivitamin, here are a few “cleaner” options:

Remember that with most anything you get what you pay for, and this is especially true for vitamins! Do you use vitamins or not?  What kind of vitamins do you recommend?

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328 thoughts on “Why My Kids Don’t Take Vitamins”

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    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Kelly. Lisa doesn’t use any kind of supplements and doesn’t really have opinions to share on individual products. :) ~Amy

    2. I had my toddler on Juice Plus for several months. When I took him for a check-up and blood-work, the nurse told me that “everything looked excellent” (she sounded surprised like excellent was something unusual) and that I should keep doing whatever I’m doing!

  1. Can anyone shed some light on GNC brand vitamins? I wonder why they haven’t been mentioned here and whether or not they are good choice? Thanks in advance.

  2. My family and I have been taking Juice Plus for almost a year now and after going through a Winter season where we usually all experience our turns with colds, the stomach flue, etc., I can happily report that we did not have a touch of anything this year, nor have we had to see our family doctor or pediatrician for any reason. Coincidence or not, think what you want. Many of the benefits that you read about are real and my family has experienced first hand – you can too!!

    If you would like more information, our pediatrician who I consider a friend as we’ll helped point us in the right direction. You can find information on her site.


    Part 1. http://youtu.be/T0zojlvdNTY

    Part 2. http://youtu.be/ai-1h8bWq9U

    Part 3. http://youtu.be/8TxdEQxtSao

  3. This is a really important topic. We have received so much conflicting information for years. I have never given my kids multivitamins on the recommendation of their GP, a very conservative Dr who I like. I have metabolic bloodwork done every 6mos in monitoring autoimmunes and am consistently very low in Vit D, sometimes Potassium. I can usually manage potassium through my diet (I hate the Rxs but sometimes don’t have a choice) but the Vit D I do take D3 daily. This is in part because I’m photosensitive and can’t get the normal sunlight others can. We have a great natural health store very close that carries vitamins with no additives whatsoever. When you do need specific ones it’s nice to have a resource to get clean ones. I’ve been very lucky to manage my autoimmunes without steroids and other RXs commonly pushed so far, only using holistic methods. Eating whole foods and using natural products is a HUGE part of this. Of course having a GP and neuro that agreed with this was imperative and almost impossible to find. Peace.

  4. I use Standard Process for myself via my chiropractor. Every quarter I take a “systems survey” which tells me my gaps based upon what I’m experiencing. Been doing this for the past year (since going Paleo) and have seen amazing results combined w/ changes to my eating. (example, was experiencing hair loss, weak nails, digestion issues). I’m at a point where I am starting to taper off what’s needed as my body continues to heal. I don’t have a gall bladder so I learned that I need to supplement with bile (I use/prefer ox bile) with every meal. In addition to the SP supplements, I had been tested for my Vit D levels last June & learned I was low (I live in WI). I take 5000 IUs in the winter (and still now) and will drop down to about 2000 in the summer (work inside all day).

    My kids have very severe food allergies & I continue to make modifications as needed for their diet to ensure they’re eating a balanced, whole food diet. I still supplement them with a multi-vitamin, Vit D and C as well as B12 for my son’s asthma & they both get a probiotic. I use Animal Parade as I refuse to use any sort of gummy type of vitamin & I also trust their labeling for cross-contact with potential deadly allergens for my children. The probiotic we use is Floragen4Kids.

  5. Juice Plus is NOT 100% organic. I have chemical sensitivity and I’m like a canary in a coal mine. I can tell if anything (food, laundry products, anything you can think of) is toxic. I thought Juice Plus sounded great and the distributor stressed it was totally organic. Well, I took 3 doses and got very ill. I made numerous phone calls and talk to many people at the Juice Plus headquarters and I finally got them to admit they do NOT use 100% organic ingredients. Beware, companies will tell you what you want to hear to sell their products.

    Shaklee uses a lot of magnesium stereate which is a toxic excipient in their products (used to make packing easier). Why would you want to put that into your body to try to get healthy??????

    There are healthy brands such as Pure Encapsulation, Thorne and others.

  6. Tara: I took Simply One Prenatal vitamins for 2 pregnancies. I was healthy without any major complications. My babies were healthy too & I delivered them naturally at their expected time. I recommend this vitamin to all my friends & family. It’s a vegan vitamin without junk in it & you only take it once a day. Never felt nauseous after consuming it. I’m in love with this vitamin! Try it.

  7. I give my 3.5 year old son vitamin D in the winter months…he’s a pretty good eater. I also use Baby Brain Organics, it’s a mixture of organic quinoa flakes, organic chia seeds, organic flax seed and organic blueberries, it’s full of protein, Omega 3’s, fiber and antioxidants…you just sprinkle it in on their food! Yesterday I made meatballs and added 2 tablespoons to that also : )


  8. My daughter takes the Baby &Toddler vitamins(in powder form) made by the Honest Company. They are whole food based and are free from the fillers you find in other brands.

  9. Thank you for your information! I wanted to let you know about Shaklee – maybe someone above has commented on them but I didn’t take the time to read the comments. Shaklee is the #1 natural nutrition company in the US. Their kids vitamins (& everything else) are amazing & at least 2 times better than organic. I agree that nature is the best place for optimal nutrition!!! Unfortunately many don’t eat enough of the best foods to get what they need, & many of our best foods don’t have the nutritional content that they used to. – for many reasons w/ 1 of them being early harvesting. That is when good supplementation is recommended. I absolutely agree that most vitamins – especially children’s – are useless! So I knew you’d be interested I hearing about the Shaklee Difference. :-) Feel fee to email back at the above address, or check out the website & search ‘Incredivites.’ Here’s to happier, healthier children!!!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hello Tara. We don’t make those kinds of recommendations. Maybe our readers have some favorites? Please chime in. :) ~Amy

    2. Tara: I took Simply One Prenatal vitamins for 2 pregnancies. I was healthy without any major complications. My babies were healthy too & I delivered them naturally at their expected time. I recommend this vitamin to all my friends & family. It’s a vegan vitamin without junk in it & you only take it once a day. Never felt nauseous after consuming it. I’m in love with this vitamin! Try it.

    3. Brittney Gossard

      Tara, I used NewChapter prenatal vitamins – they are made with organic whole food, and they are the only ones that didn’t make me feel sick to stomach!

  10. The vitamins I personally take and provide for my children are from Truestar. They are all organic products that you can not buy in the store because of their organic and natural state they do not last very long, and therefore couldn’t be put on a shelf to be sold. They are rated the #1 multivitamin, and have had a third party study done on hundreds of other vitamins to determine quality. If you are interested in learning more follow this link – http://sample.truestar.com/home.aspx?RepID=2157 and get some free samples, along with the Nutrisearch study that was completed. You will also be invited to take part in an online health program designed by leading health and fitness experts, all free.

    I suggest getting the nutriguide and find out the quality of the vitamins you’ve been taking, you’ll be surprised.

  11. I don’t but the only brand I would buy is Nature Made because they submit there products for government inspection and regulation. Vitamin’s are not regulated and they can contain who knows what or not the labeled rates and nobody can do anything about it.

    1. As a physician, I have to chime in and agree with Sarah on the importance and rarity of vitamin manufacturers who submit to independent inspection. Vitamins and supplements fall outside the purview of the FDA so there is no actual government agency regulating standards. The Medical Letter (like Consumer Reports for medicine) has conducted multiple random sample analyses of vitamins and supplements over the years. They commonly find: contaminants (including heavy metals), wide variation in the amount of active ingredients (meaning one pill may have 200mg of Vitamin X while another pill in the same bottle has 600mg), improper labeling and other serious problems. The USP is the nonprofit nongovernmental organization that does conduct inspections when manufacturers submit their products for examination. Very few do, however: Nature Made and the Berkeley and Jensen line both do. You can look for the “USP” seal on the label.

      1. Kirkland Signature brand (Costco) also submits for USP verification. I’m sure some of those natural vitamins and juices may seem like they should be more healthy than normal vitamins but they still have no regulation. You could be buying a very expensive bottle of grass clippings. As a Food Scientist I wouldn’t trust any supplement company without some checks and balances. There is a good reason the USDA was created back in the day, food manufactures will, sadly, abuse just about anything they can to make a profit.

  12. We don’t take vitamins either. We drink Zija. An organic supplement made from plants. The main component is moringa oleifera, Zija is 100% absorbable at the cellular level. All ingredients are plant based, nothing synthetic, enzymatically alive, and sustainably harvested. Drinklifein.com . Email me if you have questions. Klockwood416@gmail.com

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Yekaterina. We aren’t familiar with them at all and don’t give any kind of recommendations in this area other than what you have read above. :) ~Amy

  13. We are almost to 100% real food. I agree with you on the necessity of vitamins. We love the organic yummi bears. I only give them when they ask for it as a reward for getting ready for school without reminders. And you do get when you pay for. You will pay more for whole food vitamins. A LOT more!

  14. We, as a family, take daily Vit D during the winter months because we are not outside as much getting that great sunshine! Also, I make my own elderberry syrup which we take daily as well during cold and flu season (we don’t do flu shots).

  15. I take mega food women’s one a day and blood builder (iron) they Are whole food vitamins, and work great! The Blood Builder is the only Iron supplement my digestive system can tolerate. It is a “beet” based vitamin.

  16. This is a great topic. I am a nurse practitioner student right now, and I think it’s important to mention that there are definitely times that supplements could be encouraged. I don’t know anything about which type to get for natural sources, but they are important. I support naturopaths when it comes to supplementation recommendation as this is more their specialty

    Pregnancy: folic acid really is a must to prevent neural tube defects. it is recommended that any woman of child-bearing age that is sexually active and therefore might become pregnant should be taking folic acid, as it is most important in the first trimester which is often before you may realize you are pregnant

    Vit D: please don’t rely on the sun for this, as the risk of sun exposure to cause cancers and skin damage is too high, use sun protection! Also, as other posters have mentioned, many people are deficient in vit D incl. populations such as those that live further north, with darker skin (diff. sun absorption), any malabsorption issues, etc. Vit D is especially important for people at risk of fragility fractures such as those with osteoporosis. http://www.topalbertadoctors.org/cpgs/?sid=18&cpg_cats=91 this is a brief evidence based summary

    Iron supplementation: as mentioned, don’t supplement this unless you have a need to because of the risks associated with high iron. Iron in a multivit is often not a good idea. remember that iron can interfere with absorption of other nutrients and vitamins or medications so should be taken separately.

    Calcium: dietary is best! I believe it’s 1200 units/day, don’t overdo the calcium supplements because of the cardiovascular risks such as calcification of great vessels in the heart

    Probiotics: do have a great role to play in repopulating the gut flora after antibiotics. but as other posters have mentioned, high quality is important. a probiotic yogurt cup does not count! In canada, bio-k is the only yogurt drink approved for this use, but there are capsules as well but I don’t know which ones.

    Vit B12: take this on advice of your doctor, Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia is very common, and if it is low enough to make you feel rotten, there is a good chance you would benefit from a supplement to get your levels back up. anemia should not be taken lightly!

    Sorry that was long, just wanted to mention a few important reasons why supplements would be a good idea.

  17. Just reading through a few of these comments, and I am so happy that this is being discussed. To supplement or not to supplement? The only supplements I would ever consider putting into my body or the body of my children are Shaklee supplements. They have been around for more than 50 years, and only use natural, organic ingredients that are tested for purity. In the U.S. we put so much emphasis on what doctors tell us, but doctors get very little education on nutrition. In order to get the minimum amount of all the nutrients our bodies need to be healthy and vibrant we would need to consume a minimum of 3,000 calories a day, and that would be assuming that our food is consumed within 24 hours of harvest and is 100% pure and natural. Unfortunately, that is not very realistic. I agree that many supplements do not work. In fact, there are cases where vitamins are identified by brand in x-rays because the name is printed on the capsule and it doesn’t break down, it just takes a little trip through your digestive system. The FDA also published an article a few years ago that showed that many companies have harmful ingredients in them. The presence of lead in both children’s and pre-natal vitamins was not uncommon in many popular brands. With all this said, I believe that supplementation is important, but being educated on the quality of your supplements is equally important. The most expensive vitamin you can take? the one that doesn’t work.

  18. For all of you that say Juice Plus is great…are the fruits and vegetables all 100% organic…thinking of ordering my kids some but want to get more info. Thanks!!

    1. Juice plus is better than organic! They contract with medium sized farmers to grow their produce, pick at the peak of ripeness and use a ow temp drying process within 10 miles of the fields they are grown in. The batches of juice powders are tested 6 times for contaminates and thrown out if any are found! It’s a great way to bridge the gap between how many fruits and veggies we should eat and how many we usually are able to eat daily. It’s been a blessing for us!

    2. We believe in Juice Plus. Kids have voluntarily made it part of their daily routine!! We have experienced the benefits first hand!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Brooke. We can’t really give advice in that area. You should consult with your OB. And, if you are looking for a different perspective, perhaps talk to a Naturopath. ~Amy

  19. Hi! I am currently researching multi vitamins for kids. First, you are very lucky that your kids eat so well. I do try hard and my 3 year old does very well, but my twin 17 month olds want nothing to do with fruits and vegetables. It’s a trying time for me around meal time as I love both and want my kids to get lots of both! Anyway… They do need a multi-vitamin. I saw your post… My question is, can you recommend a good probiotic or does this vitamin gypsum my you recommend have a probiotic? I am looking for a probiotic multivitamin… Thanks so much!

  20. I don’t take any vitamins even though I was advised by my doctor to take Vitamin D due to low levels in my blood. Having lived 50+ years, it seems to me that every 5 years, doctors claim there is another new thing we’re deficient in, only to find out later that the supplementation causes more harm than good (e.g., Vitamin E for the heart and now fish oil for men’s prostate issues. Since everybody and his brother seems to be “Vitamin D deficient”, call me very skeptical.

  21. Lisa,
    I have followed your blog for a while and I appreciate all the time you take to keep us up to date on the things you are finding is most effective in keeping your family healthy with our ever changing food market. Part of me finds this kind of comical to read the responses to your blog. Opinions are always a good thing, but in the end they are always opinion. Personally we have chosen to use Nutrilite. They founded the first multi-vitamin ever created over 75 years ago. They also, grow, harvest and produce all the products used on their own certified organic farms. They are the only company in the world to accomplish this, pretty amazing and very important as well! I definitely agree that supplements should not be the basis for nutrition as they are to “supplement”. Thank you again Lisa for all your time you put into your blog, your research and most importantly, your family!

  22. I’ve done throughly research that lasted months, and Shakelee was the best option for my kids.
    Sometimes they claim to be good but use ‘soy’ which pottentially have GMO’s and soy is bad enough already to use on the daily, ‘natural colors or natural flavor’ are claimed to be MSG and the list goes on.

  23. Hi Lisa,

    Thank you again for sharing your experiences so openly with your readership. I could not agree more with your position with the exception of “Vitamins aren’t necessarily harmful…”. The vast majority of vitamins on the market today are HIGHLY synthetic chemical by-products of petroleum production or food processing. These things are NOT innate!

    I wrote a 4 part series on this subject including healthy alternatives to vitamin supplementation in case you or your readership are interested. http://www.therealfoodguy.com

    Thank you for opening up these important discussions and spreading your real food message.

  24. I’ve always been suspicious of supplements – getting real nutrients from real food is obviously the ideal. However, I have decided to take and give my kids fish oil and vitamin d. We can’t eat too much oily fish because of levels of mercury in fish these days and we can’t get enough sun because we live in New Zealand, where it’s winter at the moment and people in developed countries have generally indoor lifestyles. Most people are low on vitamin d.

  25. I guess it depends on where you live.. We live up in the northern parts of Sweden and in the winter we don’t really see the sun (which is the main source of vitamin D) so kids here get vitamin D for free from the “child care center” the first years of their lifes..

  26. I agree w you that there are plenty of junk filled kids vitamins, but I do think that most of us, kids and adults, are not getting the nutrition we need solely from our food. No reason to “give up ” on a whole foods diet, but also no reason to shun all supplements either, IMHO

  27. Our pediatrician was appalled that we don’t do a multi-vitamin. We eat whole foods. My kids are great about fruit and veggies. It can be hard to go against what your doctor says.