Are Vegan Multivitamins Healthier for Kids?
  /   Dr. John Snow

Are Vegan Multivitamins Healthier for Kids?

Every great parent works hard every day to raise healthy, happy, and productive children who will go on to live wonderful lives. Parents are discerning. They read and research. They prioritize and make sacrifices. They want their child to have the very best. 

A child’s health is essential, and holistic nutrition combined with the right vitamin supplements can play an important role. But are all multivitamins created equally? 

Parents often read the packaging to decide on a product’s healthfulness or safety. 

The word “vegan” conjures up an image of a bowl full of fruits and vegetables. It feels inherently healthier to choose a vegan product, but that isn’t always the case. 

If you want to be sure your child’s multivitamin lives up to your high standards, you’ll need to read the ingredients list to be sure. 

Vegan Doesn’t Always Mean Healthy

While many healthy whole foods just so happen to be healthier, not everything vegan is healthy. An entire pack of chocolate “creme” filled sandwich cookies is vegan, but it’s certainly not a substitute for a bowl of steamed veggies. 

It’s not enough to take the word “vegan” as an interchangeable term for healthy. In order to decide if something is more nutritious or suited to your family’s needs, you need to understand the ingredients list. 

A quick glance at the nutrition facts will tell you that vegan veggie chips aren’t quite the health panacea they seem to be. In fact, they’re nutritionally similar to processed potato chips. Coconut yogurt and plant milk are seldom as nutritious as their low-fat dairy counterparts, imparting significantly less protein and containing fewer vitamins and minerals. 

Although there will be plenty of occasions where a vegan alternative is the healthier decision, it’s wise not to assume that will always be the case. 

What is The Difference Between Vegan Multivitamins and Other Multivitamins

Vegan multivitamins are formulated without animal-derived ingredients. Gelatin, collagen, fish oil, some forms of carotene, glycerine, glucosamine, and chondroitin are commonly added to vitamin supplements, and they’re all sourced from animals. 

Most of the time, though not always, vitamin B12 will also be derived from animal sources. 

The label of a multivitamin supplement does not necessarily have to disclose where the ingredients are derived from unless the source may correlate with a common allergen, like egg, shellfish, fish, or soy.

Vegan multivitamins tend to clearly declare themselves and often go the extra mile to state where they’ve sourced their ingredients. This is a step that vegan supplement brands take to make the public feel comfortable using their products. 

Why Parents May Choose Vegan Multivitamins for Their Children

There is nothing inherently unhealthy about vitamins and minerals derived from animal sources. People who eat an omnivorous diet would be getting their vitamins and minerals from animal sources anyway. 

Vitamin B12 derived from animals is the same vitamin substance your child would obtain from eating meat. It helps to look at vegan multivitamins from the perspective of meeting a child’s needs, rather than flat out assuming a vegan product would be healthier simply by practicing veganism.

The Household is Vegan

Vegan multivitamins are an obvious necessity for vegan households. Although it is perfectly possible to obtain all the vitamins and minerals children need through a vegan diet, some children may benefit from using a vitamin supplement. 

Picky eaters and children with allergies to important vegan sources of vitamins -- like soy products -- may require a multivitamin supplement to provide them with additional dietary support. 

The Child Has Allergies

Children with allergies to egg, soy, shellfish, fish, wheat, or dairy might need supplementation to their diet due to the amount of foods they cannot safely consume. The supplements they use need to be suited for their needs.

Gluten-free, soy-free vegan multivitamins are made without many common allergens. It is often easier for parents to gravitate towards vegan versions of products when they know their children are allergic or intolerant to animal products. 

What Truly Makes a Multivitamin Healthy

It seems odd to consider the notion that a multivitamin may not be healthy for your child. It’s packed with vitamins and minerals! How could it possibly be considered junk? The answer comes from the multivitamin’s other ingredients.

Formulations Without Sugar and Junk

If giving your child gummy vitamins feels a lot like giving your child candy, there’s a good reason for that. It’s very similar in many ways. Children like gummy vitamins because they taste and look like candy -- which unfortunately sends the wrong message. They’re a sweet treat, and many parents believe that tricking their children into consuming vitamins by presenting them like candy is a clever way to pull the wool over the eyes of picky eaters.

These multivitamins are unhealthy in their ingredients, as well as in the message they send. Most children’s gummy multivitamins are between two and five pieces per serving. In terms of added sugar, artificial colors, and artificial flavors, giving them these gummy vitamins is equivalent to giving them the same amount of candy. 

While it’s important not to demonize things like sugar, it’s also essential to avoid unnecessary sources of added sugar. Your child doesn’t need to get 30% of their recommended daily added sugar maximum from vitamins

They may prefer frozen yogurt or a waffle a la mode on “breakfast for dinner” night. It’s important to develop an attitude towards sugar that illustrates an occasional treat rather than a daily dietary staple.

This is why it’s unhealthy to create an association between candy and vitamins. You don’t want your child to believe that candy is something they should eat every day to promote good health. 

This can lead to a host of health-related issues as your child ages. Not to mention, such bad habits can lead to severe health conditions. 

Opt for a sugar-free, junk-free children’s multivitamin. Chewable vitamins are just as easy for children to consume as gummy vitamins are, and they look a lot less like candy. 

This may also prevent children from building such a strong link between candy and multivitamins, allowing them to sneak extra multivitamins throughout the day. 

Vitamin overload can occur, and it usually involves painful gastric symptoms. Don’t tempt children to overindulge. 

Highly Bioavailable Ingredients

One of the biggest measures of how healthy a multivitamin can be is how well the vitamin actually works. Some multivitamins contain double the recommended daily value to account for loss as the body metabolizes it. If the vitamin isn’t in its most bioavailable form, most of that vitamin will pass through the body without being utilized.

Look for multivitamins that list the form of each vitamin, and rate those forms for their bioavailability.

  • Vitamin D3 as cholecalciferol is the natural form of vitamin D3 the body makes with sunlight. The body is equipped to utilize vitamin D3 in this form.*
  • Vitamin B12 as methylcobalamin is the form of vitamin B12 derived from non-animal sources. It’s known to be easy for the body to absorb.*
  • Folate as calcium L-5 methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) is an active form of folate that’s ready for the body to use. Other forms of folate require additional processing by the body, limiting their ability to be adequately utilized.* 
  • Calcium as calcium carbonate contains the highest amount of elemental calcium, meaning the body is known to require less calcium in this form than in other forms. When taken with food, calcium carbonate is known to be easily digested and utilized by the body.*

You don’t need to be an expert in supplements or biochemistry to assess the forms of vitamins in a child’s multivitamin supplement. You only need to Google what you find on the back of the bottle and see what reputable institutions have to say.

It’s a little bit of a task, but you only need to do it once. When you find the right multivitamin, you can subscribe for monthly deliveries or repurchase the same multivitamin every time. It is a one-and-done solution, as long as your child’s pediatrician approves of your choice. 

Hiya is Vegan and Healthy

Hiya’s expertly formulated children’s multivitamin is more than just vegan. It’s incredibly healthy.

Our chewable multivitamins are naturally sweetened with monk fruit and mannitol to make it more pleasant for little ones to chew them up and swallow them.

Our formula is non-GMO, gluten-free, and eco-friendly, in addition to being vegan. It’s designed to be an excellent fit for most children and the needs of most households. Ditch the junk with Hiya. 

Sources:

Comparative Bioavailability and Utilization of Particular Forms of B12 Supplements With Potential to Mitigate B12-related Genetic Polymorphisms | National Institutes of Health

Folate, folic acid, and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate are not the same thing | PubMed

Choosing a calcium supplement | Harvard Health

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