My wife and I have given our five-year-old children's vitamins on-and-off since she was two. I don't believe the vitamins harm my daughter's health, but at the same time I wonder if the vitamins are just another version of candy, and I am skeptical of vitamin's health claims. I notice that all the 'gummi' vitamins are made with corn syrup and food coloring.

I realize the manufacturers are trying to make the vitamins appealing, but how much benefit is my daughter getting?

  • Which vitamins are you skeptical of? Most are necessary to make our bodies work, though you can certainly over-do some of them.
    – DA01
    Jan 11, 2012 at 19:06
  • 1
    I strongly believe in giving children a good quality multivitamin. I avoid the gummies due to the excess sugar and sweetener they put into it. I found a brand that I really trust and the ingredient content is amazing. I feel that this really fills in the nutritional gaps my children aren't getting from food.
    – user20672
    Jan 28, 2016 at 17:32
  • What you feel and what the evidence shows are not necessarily the same. The supplement industry makes money making you think that you are helping, even if you are not.
    – swbarnes2
    Jan 29, 2016 at 0:18

5 Answers 5


My personal conclusion from own research (I mean googling, discussions, own experiences etc. not a strictly scientific approach :-) is that

  • it is preferable to take vitamins, minerals etc. from normal food, as part of a balanced diet
  • needs and availability are different in winter than in summer, so it may make sense to use some supplements during wintertime, however we don't use supplements during the summer
  • most critical may be vitamin D and Omega 3, this is what we give to our children during winter, when low exposure to sunlight means the body has less chance of producing the necessary amount of vitamin D. Also, in our country very little fish is eaten on average, so we feel it makes sense to supplement Omega acids.

Vitamins from artifical supplements probably aren't digested by our body nearly as well as in their natural environment, so even if I take 500mg of vitamin C in a pill, it may be that less of it is actually used by my body than of the 50mg I get from fruits and vegetables. Moreover, the latter also contain hundreds of other, as yet unknown or un-examined compounds, which may have a positive health effect on their own, but what may be even more important is their synergistic effect. Food science only focuses on singular compounds, isolated from the whole, one at a time, and has much less knowledge about how they actually work together in their natural environment. Not to mention it is much less exciting - and even less profitable - to advertise raw broccoli or apples rather than "our Super Immune Boosting Mega Vitamin Supplement" including lots of fancy and deeply scientific(ally sounding) names such as Flavonoids, Carotenoids, Antioxidants etc. ;-)

  • Some regions of the world are also deficient in particular minerals eg selenium in New Zealand. Occasional brazil nuts are a simple fix for that problem though Jan 15, 2012 at 3:07
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    "Vitamins from artifical supplements probably aren't digested by our body nearly as well as in their natural environment". This is magical thinking. Vitamins are just another kind of chemical, and there is no difference between "natural" and "artificial" vitamins. As for the "environment" they are in, just take them with food. However I quite agree with you about the marketing. Vitamin marketing is magical thinking in a white coat. Jan 28, 2016 at 18:49
  • Paul, there is a scientific basis for the idea that vitamins/minerals in many supplements aren't as readily absorbed. For example, it's true that the magnesium in a supplement is identical to the magnesium in food, but the vitamins in food are often bound in larger molecules that can cross membranes that the isolated compound cannot. Some vitamins and minerals have good bioavailability in isolation and some don't.
    – Aidan Ryan
    Mar 30, 2017 at 14:54

I would be wary of vitamins because of what it is teaching the child about medicine. We were very careful to show our kids their names on their medicines when they needed it and talk about who can give them medicine (never too early to teach about drugs). Therefore I would definitely worry if vitamins (medicine) would be associated with candy.

  • 2
    My wife is giving our 2yo son some homeopathic stuff (I consider that harmless but wrong) but I do see that he cannot tell the difference between that and real medicine. I fear it might cause him to ingest real medicine at some point when we're not looking, because he hasn't understood that it might be dangerous. Older kids can understand this, but parents need to teach it! Jan 11, 2012 at 15:47
  • They definitely should be treated as medicine...not candy. An easy way around that is to not get the candy-like vitamins.
    – DA01
    Jan 11, 2012 at 19:08
  • This is why I really like the medicines which taste terrible - my kids know that they are only to help make them better when ill, and they wouldn't go near them otherwise. Vitamins are more of a challenge, as manufacturers deliberately make them taste nice.
    – Rory Alsop
    Jan 12, 2012 at 10:57
  • As long as one believes that massively diluted medicine (ie some types of homeopathic medicine) will work, at least there is the benefit of the placebo effect... Jan 15, 2012 at 3:03

Exactly how should we make certain we receive a sufficient amount of vitamin D? Sunlight is certainly a great source of vitamin D. While you are exposed to sunshine, your entire body generally creates vitamin D. When you are exposed to sunlight, be sure to make use of a decent sun screen lotion in order to avoid burns. Get just as much sun exposure as you can. Why? Your body generally generates vitamin D when we're exposed to the sun's rays. In case you have very little exposure to the sunshine, whether it's as you do the job within the house or even reside somewhere which does not obtain a good deal of sun's rays, you should ensure to consume healthy foods which have been great sources of vitamin D. It is usually in lots of our food items. A number of the food items milk products, natural yogurt, fortified cereal, and also loaf of bread usually are full of vitamin D. Furthermore, it comes by natural means in trout, tuna fish, as well as eggs.

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For adults, I'm pretty sure there is no evidence that supplemental vitamins do anything for you unless you've actually been diagnosed with a deficiency (the exception being that folic acid taken before a woman tests pregnant helps prevent neural tube defects in fetuses). So I'm guessing that there isn't any evidence that routine vitimans help kids either. Is anyone going to post a paper showing benefit?


I realize the manufacturers are trying to make the vitamins appealing, but how much benefit is my daughter getting?

I believe this is the core of the conversation.

1) I'm not a fan of artificially medicating. Unless your kids Dr has said "you should give li'l Marceline a vitamin" then it stands to reason that you're not really helping, and you could be hurting (overdoing it).

2) I'm not a fan of artificial foods. High Fructose Corn Syrup, or Corn Sugar as it's now called, and food colorings can be detrimental . . . especially since it's a daily dose to a human body system that is still trying to figure out how the hell it's supposed to work.

3) About the quote... and I'm telling myself that I'm not going to rant on it. I do not believe than juvenile multivitamins are anything more than a money maker for the Health Industrial Complex. There may be some slight benefits to actually taking them, as pointed out by studies performed by organizations with unknown or questionable relationships.

Bottom line: If you take the entire story into account (hfcs, food coloring, potential for od, actual help, etc) I doubt very seriously that the result is a tangible net positive.

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