Vitamin Retailer — August 2011
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Children’s Health
Janet Poveromo

Kid’s Multiple Choice

With children’s multivitamins,manufacturers seek to meet kid’s nutritional and palate needs, all while finding their parents’ (not too) sweet spot as well.

At A Time when bone growth, brain development and immune system building are at their peak, it is imperative that children receive the proper vitamins and minerals; however, with active families and busy lives, it can be difficult for parents to ensure their child is meeting nutritional requirements through diet alone.

“People are recognizing the importance of supplementing for dietary deficiencies and are becoming increasingly aware of the long-term positive impacts vitamins can have on a child’s health,” said Kate Jones, president of Nutrition Now, Inc. (Vancouver, WA).

According to SPINS, supplement sales are growing at approximately five to six percent, and the research company’s most recent data showed growth of children’s multivitamins remains strong.

“The increases in incidence of childhood obesity, asthma, autism, allergies and ADD/ADHD prompt parents to look for dietary supplements to help support their child’s health,” said Lisa Lent, CEO and founder of Vitalah (Watsonville, CA), creators of Oxylent. “Multivitamins/minerals, herbs and other supplements have all been found to benefit these conditions, and parents understand that these conditions can develop from nutrient deficiencies and/or can be helped by dietary supplements.”

Children who consume the Standard American diet (SAD) take in excess car Children who consume the Standard American diet (SAD) take in excess carbohydrates (in the form of bread, pasta, crackers, juice, cookies), high fructose corn syrup, and an excess of partially hydrogenated (trans) and saturated fat, Lent pointed out. “Many kids’ diets also consist of an alarming percentage of new-to-nature, ultra-processed foods and substances derived in a lab. These children often do not consume the levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and essential fats that are necessary for optimal health.”


The introduction of multivitamins specific for teenagers is a growing segment within children’s multivitamins, said Stacey Gillespie, director of marketing with MegaFood (Derry, NH). “Sales of multivitamins are trending faster and typically this segment has a significantly higher growth rate in August and September in preparation for their children to go back to school healthy and stay healthy throughout the year.”

Another consistent trend for this category continues to be better-tasting children’s supplements that are low in sugar, added Lent. “Parents want good-tasting supplements that are free of artificial additives and health-promoting for their children.”

Stuart Tomc, national educator for Nordic Naturals (Watsonville, CA), pointed out that safety and efficacy are always important and remain on consumers’ priority lists when buying vitamins, especially for their children. “Parents want a natural solution for their children without unnecessary Fillers, binders and other ‘extra’ ingredients. Third-party test results for purity are also a new trend as parents increasingly do not want environmental toxins present in their [children’s] food or dietary supplements.”

In addition, delivery systems have expanded to a wide variety of options—from liquids to effervescence to gummies and chewables.

Category Evolution

More options in terms of delivery and taste, more marketing appealing to young children, and an emphasis on purity and science have been evolving the children’s multi market within the past several years, offered Tomc.

Ingredients have been revamped as well. “Areas of greater focus in multivitamins, especially as the more expensive natural products seek to differentiate themselves from cheaper over-thecounter brands, include higher levels of calcium and magnesium for growing bones, higher levels of vitamin C for immunity, more bioavailable vitamin D3 as opposed to D2 for calcium absorption and other important immune functions,” noted Amber Lynn Vitse, LMT, CN, an ayurvedic practitioner with PranaAyurveda (Knoxville, TN) and director of ayurvedic education with Nature’s Formulary (Clifton Park, NY).

“Many multis now include super foods and antioxidant blends with a tested ORAC value,” Vitse added. “Some include probiotics and enzymes. But the challenge is always, ‘How much can you pack into a palatable chewable that kids will crave, and not have to add sucrose, fructose or juice to make it tastier?’ This issue segues into the issue of sweeteners that do not promote tooth decay in Chewables, like choosing sorbitol, xylitol [or] stevia over sucrose and fructose. Multivitamins should not be like candy, but they still have to be inviting to the children, such that they ask for them.”

Children’s Studies

Research shows nonusers of supplements can be lured to the category with science. “When asked in a recent survey what might convince them to begin taking supplements regularly, 56 percent said ‘scientific studies demonstrating benefits,’” said Lent, adding that one particularly exciting area of current research is vitamin D’s role in children’s health. “Two recent studies have added to this growing body of research. One recently published scientific study concluded that low vitamin D levels put children at increased risk for increased insulin resistance and diabetes. Another recent study found that vitamin D deficiency is common among children with asthma, and that those children with asthma who had low levels of vitamin D were more likely to suffer asthma attacks. These studies add to the growing body of research shedding light on the crucial importance of healthy vitamin D status in children.”

A good manufacturer will be interested in all research on this topic because it is very important when formulating, said Tomc, adding that dosage is key for all supplements and this is where research can play such an important role.

On the Shelf

As a standard bearer, Nordic Naturals has not introduced a new product in this category since its launch of wellaccepted Nordic Berries. “Given their popularity, we’ve decided to maintain this product as is,” explained Tomc.

Another favorite is Nutrition Now’s Rhino Gummy Multi-Vitamin™. Available in both regular and vegetarian formulas, Jones expressed that the product reflects the latest research. “We are always looking for new ways to update and improve our product.”

Other products for retailers to consider include Teen Link from Pain & Stress Center (San Antonio, TX). “While not a multivitamin, it is a multivitamin enhancement/support supplement, formulated to support serotonin levels in adolescents, as research shows teens often have periods of low serotonin levels,” explained Kathy Birkner, CRNA, PhD, CNC, vice president of operations. Teen Link, which features 5-HTP, tyrosine, taurine, GABA, glutamine, and vitamins C and B6, tackles the stress-filled teen years and boosts a sense of wellbeing by supporting even mood and decreasing aggression, Birkner explained.

In October 2010, Vitalah debuted Children’s Oxylent multivitamin supplement drink. The product offers a supplement panel that includes all the B vitamins, vitamins A, C, E and D3, calcium, magnesium, zinc and selenium— and is free of fructose, additives, preservatives, lactose, gluten and caffeine. Children’s Oxylent comes in single-serving stick packs to add to a glass of water, making an effervescent drink that Delivers a blend of enzymes, electrolytes, amino acids, vitamins and minerals that support children’s health—all with less than 2g of sugar.

“Taste is a primary challenge in this category, and it is one of the reasons Vitalah uses Albion Minerals in Children’s Oxylent,” explained Lent. “Albion Minerals have minimal taste while also offering superior absorbability.”

Another new multi comes from, MegaFood, which recently introduced Kid’s One Daily, a whole-food multivitamin for children aged 5 or older. “The logic behind the formulation was to offer a complete multivitamin for children that did not contain, sugar, sweeteners, flavorings or food dyes as these ingredients are already very prevalent in our children’s diet,” explained Gillepsie. This multi is not a chewable, but rather a small, easy-to-swallow tablet that delivers 24 essential nutrients. “A tablet delivers essential nourishment without all of the other stuff our children don’t need more of.”

Multivitamins can be an excellent way to introduce children to natural products, Vitse suggested. “Children can be conditioned to like even the most ‘natural’ of vitamin supplements if parents start early with little nibbles. If parents take medicines or vitamins, children are often intrigued and want to participate too. Letting them have their own age-appropriate amounts along with the parents encourages them to be tolerant later when they may really need them as they are more choosy about their foods.”

That advice comes with a warning: “It is always important to keep both children’s and adult’s vitamins out of reach so there is never risk of overdose,” Vitse stressed. “Don’t let young children help themselves.”