In my previous blog, I provided a detailed overview of the nutrients which are recommended in supplement form for under 5’s in the UK.
In the second part of this series, together with The Nutrition Consultant, What Food When and The Lifestyle Nutritionist, we’ve covered an in-depth comparison of the most popular products currently available.
Before we get into the actual products, here is a summary of some of the key factors you should consider when choosing a supplement for your baby or child:
- Age: Ensure the supplement you choose is suitable for the age of your child. This is important as the quantities of nutrients contained within the supplement will change depending on the age it is targeted at.
- Vitamin D: It’s important that a supplement meets the recommended intake for Vitamin D as dietary sources alone are not sufficient. Generally speaking, a 8.5µg supplement will meet recommendations for babies under 12 months and a 10µg supplement will meet the requirements for children aged 1 years and over.
- Vitamins A & C: From 6 months to 5 years (or when baby is having less than 500mls formula milk per day), a supplement containing vitamins A & C is recommended. In contrast to vitamin D, it is not essential that the supplement meets the daily recommended intake, but the supplement should contain these two vitamins (the remaining amount can come from the diet).
- Additional nutrients: As noted in my previous blog, beyond vitamins A, C and D, there are no further nutrients that are recommended to be supplemented for ALL children. Some children may benefit from additional supplementation but this should ideally be discussed with your GP or health professional before introducing.
- Added ingredients (e.g. sugar): Ideally opt for a supplement which doesn’t contain added sugars. Other ingredients, including fillers or binding ingredients, are generally only included in minimal quantities so unlikely to be of any concern.
- Cost: We have included the cost per serving so you can directly compare the price of each supplement.
- Suitability for vegetarians: Some supplements may contain additional ingredients such as gelatine and therefore would not be suitable for vegans or vegetarians. We have included this information but please ensure you check the label for confirmation. For Vitamin D, not all forms of Vitamin D are suitable for vegans, so you may want to verify this.
Supplement Comparison: What are the best vitamin products in the UK?
We’ve broken down the different types of vitamins that you might find in the UK into the following criteria:
- Multivitamins: These provide multiple nutrients (such as vitamins A, C and D) and may also contain other nutrients of benefit to some children, such as those on a plant-based diet.
- Single Vitamins: These are vitamins designed to provide a single nutrient – e.g. Vitamin D
- Additional Vitamins: These are other vitamins which claim to target a specific issue or health benefit – e.g., “immune support” or “omega-3”. They may not include the recommended vitamins (A,C,D), but may be useful for some children, or as recommended by a health care professional.
- Many of the multivitamins we researched contain added sugars. NHS guidance recommends that added sugars are not consumed by young children where possible.
- Not all multivitamins targeted at children meet the recommended intake for vitamin D and so would not be suitable for under 5’s, unless your child is taking another supplement containing vitamin D or is having more than 500mls formula daily.
- Some of these options include additional nutrients beyond the recommended A, C and D. Please refer to appendix at the end of this blog for details.
If you are in receipt of NHS healthy start vouchers then you can get Healthy Start Vitamins for free. Some boroughs will also give these for free without the vouchers so it may be worth checking the information in your area. Ask your Health Visitor if you’re not sure and check the NHS Healthy Start Website for more information.
In this category we’re covering the vitamins that are designed to provide a single nutrient only.
Single Vitamins Summary
- Most children do not need to take single supplements, unless they are specifically for vitamin D or if you have been advised by a health professional.
- Although most of the Vitamin D supplements we researched contained appropriate levels of Vitamin D, this was not the case for all and it is important to check (as a recap, babies <12 months should have 8.5µg per day and children >12 months should have 10µg per day).
- If your child is getting Vitamin D from another supplement (e.g. a multivitamin) you should check the quantities to avoid over consumption. As a reminder, your child does not need a Vitamin D supplement if they are having more than 500mls of formula daily. This is because all formula milk in the UK contains Vitamin D.
- Whilst these options are primarily marketed as “single nutrients,” some do contain a few additional nutrients as an added extra. Included in the appendix you’ll find a summary with each of the nutrients and who these may be beneficial for.
These are supplements which provide a range of additional nutrients, aside from the Government recommended A, C and D, such as ‘for immune support’ or probiotic formula. None of these supplements are essential to offer your little one, but may be helpful in some circumstances. Please refer to the guidance of your health professional.
Additional Nutrients Summary
- These additional vitamins should be considered as extra support rather than to provide the recommended supplement vitamins (A,C,D). The table at the end of this blog [link] shows whether these nutrients might be beneficial for your child.
- Not all of these options meet the recommended intake for Vitamin D and not all contain Vitamins A & C. Therefore, some of these options would not be suitable as the only vitamin supplement offered to your little one.
- Some of the supplements we researched contain added sugars; where possible opt for supplements without added sugars.
- Many of the options include a variety of nutrients beyond what they are primarily marketed as. The appendix provides details of when these additional nutrients may be of benefit. You may also want to refer to our information on “Does my child need additional supplements?”
Additional points to consider when choosing a supplement for baby and children:
Added sugars / filler ingredients
- Ideally, a supplement shouldn’t contain added sugars.
- Some of the options contain sweeteners, such as sorbitol or sucralose. Generally, sweeteners are considered safe in the amounts present in our foods and supplements.
- Similarly, other filler ingredients such as bulking agents, acidity regulators or oils are unlikely to be of any concern in children’s supplements.
Form of supplement (e.g. spray / drops)
- This will be individual to you and your child and based on what works best for you.
Vegetarian / Vegan
- Some supplements use gelatine and are therefore not suitable for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet. Always make sure you check the label to ensure the supplement is suitable for your needs.
When might additional nutrients be beneficial?
Hopefully these comparisons help to show what to look out for in the products on the market. I know it can seem quite overwhelming with so many to choose from and seemingly so many factors to consider. If you have any individual concerns at all, always check with a health professional for personalised advice on what’s best for your child.
[Notes and Disclaimer: The information and advice provided in this blog are of a general nature and should never replace individual health or medical advice provided by your healthcare professional team. The blog is not endorsed or sponsored by any of the brands featured. It is not intended to be used to diagnose any medical condition or nutrient deficiency. For any individual concerns related to your family’s nutritional needs, please consult a qualified healthcare professional. The information included is based on the latest scientific research at the time (May 2021), which can change as research is updated.]
Appendix 1: Brands and supplements included in the research
|Abidec||Multivitamin Drops for Babies & Children|
|Abidec||Advanced Multivitamin Syrup Plus Omega 6 & 9|
|Baby Ddrops||Liquid Vitamin D3 Drops|
|Bassets||Multivitamins +Omega 3|
|Better You||DLux Infant Vitamin D Oral Spray|
|Better You||DLux Junior Vitamin D Oral Spray|
|Better You||Multivit Junior Oral Spray|
|Biocare||Baby Vitamin D Drops|
|Biocare||Vitamin A, C & D Drops|
|Biocare||Children’s Complete Complex (Multinutrient)|
|Biocare||Children’s Mindlinx® Multinutrient|
|Holland & Barrett||Healthy Kids Multivitamins Softies|
|Holland & Barrett||Healthy Kids Vitamin D3 Chewy Softies|
|Holland & Barrett||Healthy Kids Multivitamins plus Omega 3 Softies|
|Holland & Barrett||PreVites with Iron Chewables Tablets|
|Holland & Barrett||Baby Multivitamin Liquid Juicy Orange|
|Holland & Barrett||Healthy Kids Omega 3 Fish Oils with A,D,E & C Chewy Capsules|
|Holland & Barrett||Healthy Kids Eye Care Lutein Gummies|
|Holland & Barrett||Kids Immune Chewables|
|MyKind||Organics Vegan D3 Spray|
|Nature & Nurture||Baby & Child Vitamins|
|Nature’s Aid||Mini Drops Vitamin C|
|Nature’s Aid||Mini Drops Vitamin D|
|Nature’s Aid||Mini Drops Multivitamin|
|Nature’s Aid||Mini Drops Immune Plus|
|Nature’s Aid||Mini Drops Iron|
|NHS||Healthy Start Childrens Vitamin Drops|
|Vitabiotics/Wellbaby||Vitamin D Drops|
|Vitabiotics/Wellkid||Peppa Pig Vitamin D|
|Vitabiotics/Wellkid||Soft Jelly Pastilles|
|Vitabiotics/Wellkid||Peppa Pig Multi-vits|
|Vitabiotics/Wellkid||Peppa Pig Omega-3|
Appendix 2: Multivitamin Nutrient Table
|Abidec multivitamin drops||Vitamins B1, 2 & 6|
|Holland & Barrett multivitamin liquid drops||Vitamins B1-6, Vitamin E,|
|Biocare A,C, D drops||Vitamins B1-6, Zinc|
|Biocare Mindlinx multi-nutrient||Vitamins B1-7, Folate, Vitamin B12, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Iodine, Selenium, Choline, Chromium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Inositol, PABA|
|Holland & Barrett Pre-Vites||Vitamins B1, 2, 3, 6, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12, Vitamin E, Iron|
|Wellkid Peppa Pig Multivitamins||Vitamins B1-7, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12, Vitamin E, Inulin|
|Wellkid Multi-vitamin smart chewables||Vitamins B1-7, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12, Vitamin E, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Selenium, Chromium, Iodine|
|Wellkid Soft Jelly||Vitamins B1-7, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12, Vitamin E, Omega 3|
|Nature’s Aid mini drops with iron||Folic Acid, Vitamin B12, Iron|
|Nature’s Aid mini drops – multivitamin||Vitamins B1-6, Vitamin B12|
|Wellbaby multivitamin drops||Vitamins B1-7, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Vitamin E, Iron, Zinc, L-Lysine|
|Wellbaby multivitamin liquid||Vitamins B1-6, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Vitamin E, Iron, Zinc, Copper|
|Biocare complete complex||Vitamins B1-7, Folate, Vitamin B12, Vitamin E, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Copper, Selenium, Iodine, Chromium Molybdenum, Choline, Manganese, Inositol, PABA|
|Abidec multivitamin + Omega||Vitamins B1-7, Vitamin B12, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Omega 6&9|
|Holland & Barrett Multivitamin||Vitamins B3, 5 & 6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin E|
|Holland & Barrett Multivitamin + Omega 3||Vitamins B3, 5 & 6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin E, Omega 3,6 & 9|
|Bassetts Multivitamin||Vitamin B6, Vitamin E|
|Bassetts Multivitamin + Omega 3||Vitamins B5&6, Vitamin E, Omega 3|
|BetterYou Multivitamin Spray||Vitamins B1-7, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Iodine, Selenium, Vitamin K|
Appendix 3: Single Vitamins – Nutrient Table
|Holland & Barrett vit D3 chewable||Vitamin D, Calcium|
|Holland & Barrett lutein* chewable||Lutein, Zinc|
|myKind organics D3 spray||Vitamin D, Omega Blend|
*Lutein is a carotenoid, which is a pigment found in plants that works as an antioxidant in humans. There is some evidence to support its role in eye health, but a supplement is not generally necessary. Carotenoids are widely found in food sources, most commonly fruits and vegetables.
Appendix 4: Additional Vitamins Nutrient Table
|Holland & Barrett Omega 3 fish oils with A, D, E & C||Vitamin E, Omega 3|
|Wellkid Omega 3 chewable||Vitamin E|
|Holland & Barrett Immunity Chewable||Zinc|
|Wellkid Immune chewable||Vitamins B1-7, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12, Vitamin E Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Zinc, Iodine Selenium, Betacarotene, Manganese Chromium|
|Abidec Immune support||Lactobacillus Rhamnosus Lactobacillus Reuteri|
|Nature’s Aid Immune Plus||Folic Acid, Vitamin B12, Zinc, Elderberry Extract|