The 7 Best Supplements for Autistic Kids, According to a Pediatric Dietitian

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Best Supplements for Autistic Kids

Verywell Family / Brian Kopinski

Nutrient deficiencies related to selective eating and gastrointestinal issues are common in autistic children, a developmental disability that impacts how an individual behaves and interacts with their environment. These behaviors can manifest in aversions to food tastes, textures and smells, which can limit dietary intake, and result in nutritional inadequacies. Additionally, food allergies and gastrointestinal issues including diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, reflux, and inflammation can be more common in autistic children, further complicating their food choices and nutritional status.

In general, autistic kids can have suboptimal levels of omega-3s, vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin E, and calcium. When diet alone fails to provide autistic kids with the nutrition they need, supplementation can be helpful to fill the gaps and potentially improve some challenging symptoms. 

“Supplements should not replace a well-balanced diet, but should complement it to make sure children are getting all of the nutrients their bodies need, which can help them focus better, have regular bowel movements, and feel their best,” says Brittyn Coleman, MS, RDN/LD, CLT, a dietitian and creator of the Autism Nutrition Library.

We chose supplements that contain vitamins in their bioactive forms for optimal absorption, have research or health professional-backed recommendations, and are ideally third-party tested. Taking a multivitamin and additional, individual supplements can lead to over supplementation with adverse effects, so it is important to work with your child’s medical team to create a personalized supplementation plan. 

Are Supplements for Autism Beneficial?

Supplements can be an effective way to fill in nutritional gaps in children who are not consuming or metabolizing nutrients adequately due to food intolerances and gastrointestinal problems. Dietary restrictions are common in the autistic population both due to selective food preferences and prescribed dietary interventions.

The gluten-free casein-free diet is one of the most popular restrictive diets recommended for autistic children, though research is inconclusive if it is truly beneficial. The idea behind this diet is that some autistic individuals have difficulty digesting gluten and casein. The inability to properly digest these nutrients can damage the gut and further exacerbate autistic symptoms. Gluten and casein consumption in intolerant individuals may also affect folate metabolism which may cause and/or exacerbate a folate deficiency.

While potentially therapeutic for some individuals, a diet limited in dairy products such as the gluten-free casein-free diet raises concerns for the adequacy of dietary calcium and vitamin D intake. For this reason, supplemental vitamin D and calcium may be indicated when following a dairy-free diet. Additionally, restricting foods can increase the risk for disordered eating and eating disorders. Restricting foods should always be discussed with a child's healthcare team.

Supplements are most beneficial in children with documented deficiencies, however, Coleman finds that omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, certain probiotics, prebiotics, and activated folate tend to be safe and generally beneficial for some autistic children. Still, she strongly recommends working with a healthcare professional who can ensure that your child receives the doses and nutrients that are best for their individual needs.

Here is a summary of the potential benefits of our top supplement choices:

Multivitamins: Multivitamins are a comprehensive option to help ensure autistic children with limited diets are getting a variety of vitamins and minerals.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids, including EPA and DHA, are vital in many aspects of health, growth and development and can help to reduce inflammation. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), recommends that children eat fish one to two times a week to meet their omega-3 needs, which may be difficult for an autistic child with food aversions. Additionally, some scientific evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may improve mental health status in children with emotional and behavioral issues, including those with autism, but more research is needed.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is a common vitamin deficiency, and autistic kids are at an even greater risk than the general population due to selective eating and therapeutic dietary restrictions. Some studies also suggest that supplementation with vitamin D may help to improve some symptoms related to autism.

Calcium: Calcium is needed for growing and building strong bones and teeth during childhood. Children with autism have many risk factors for low bone mineral density especially if they follow a gluten-free casein-free diet. A calcium supplement can be beneficial for those with suboptimal dairy intake.

Magnesium: Some evidence indicates that magnesium could be involved in neurological diseases such as autism and that some autistic children may have cellular magnesium depletion. Additionally, magnesium can have a positive impact on many aspects of a child’s life from sleep, anxiety, or constipation.

Probiotics: Children with autism are commonly affected by gastrointestinal problems such as abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea. Probiotics are hypothesized to positively impact symptoms related to these problems, and despite lack of strong scientific evidence probiotics some healthcare professionals commonly recommend certain probiotics for autistic kids. A healthcare provider can help determine if and what type of probiotic may be beneficial for your child.

Autistic Kids Who May Not Benefit From Supplements

An autism diagnosis in and of itself does not necessitate a supplement regimen. Children who eat an adequate and well balanced diet may not benefit from supplementation. Because autistic children can be at a higher risk of nutritional deficiencies, we recommend working with a pediatrician to assess nutritional status through lab work before adding any supplements.

Additionally, those that take a multivitamin and additional, individual supplements can be at risk of over supplementation, so we recommend working with a healthcare provider to develop an individualized supplement regimen.

It is important to note that some autistic children may have underlying medical conditions that contribute to nutrient deficiencies, such as diarrhea in the setting of a gluten allergy or intolerance. It is important that the root cause leading to suboptimal nutrient levels is addressed first, and then work with a healthcare provider to see if supplementation may be beneficial.

Best Multivitamin

Thorne Kids Multi+

Thorne Kids Multi+


  • Contains 15 bioactive vitamins, including choline

  • Includes DHA

  • NSF certified

  • Expensive

With 15 key nutrients including choline and DHA for brain health, vitamins B2, B6, B12, and folate in their most readily usable forms, Thorne Kids Multi + is our top multivitamin pick for autistic kids.

While this is one of the more expensive children’s multivitamins we looked at, the strawberry kiwi formula doesn’t contain sugar, and we like that you can mix the dissolvable disk into just about anything making it more palatable for picky eaters

Thorne products are NSF certified and the Kids Multi + is vegan, doesn’t contain sugar or artificial ingredients, and is free of gluten and soy.

Price at time of publication: $36 ($1.20 per serving)

Key Specs:
Dissolvable powder | Type: Multivitamin | Dose: 1 disk | Third-Party Certified: Thorne products are NSF certified | Servings Per Container: 30

Best Gummy Multivitamin

SmartyPants Kids Formula Daily Gummy Multivitamin

SmartyPants Kids Formula Daily Gummy Multivitamin


  • Third-party tested and NSF certified

  • Contains 15 key nutrients

  • Great taste

  • Includes five grams of added sugar

We love that SmartyPants Multivitamin and D3 not only contains 15 essential nutrients including highly bioavailable methylfolate, as well as EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids. This tasty gummy is typically well tolerated by children and also suitable for a picky eater. SmartyPants is third-party lab tested and NSF certified so you can trust that your child is getting what’s listed on the bottle. 

While this gummy multivitamin does contain five grams of added sugar, it’s gluten and GMO-free and free of artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and major allergens making it a good choice for most restricted diets. 

Like most gummy vitamins, SmartyPants does not contain iron or calcium, so your child may require additional supplements if guided by a healthcare professional.

Price at time of publication: $21 ($0.70 per serving)

Key Specs:
Gummy | Type: Multivitamin | Dose: 4 gummies | Third-Party Certified: Yes | Servings Per Container: 30

Best Omega-3

Nordic Naturals Children’s DHA

Nordic Naturals Children’s DHA


  • Certificate of Analysis available

  • Triglyceride form for optimal absorption

  • Third-party tested

  • Requires refrigeration

  • Only recommended for ages 1-6 years

Nordic Naturals Children's DHA liquid is our top pick for omega-3 supplements for autistic children due to its highly absorbable form and overall quality. Half a teaspoon provides 530 milligrams of omega-3s (170 milligrams from EPA, 255 milligrams from DHA, and 105 milligrams from other omega-3s). It's made exclusively from wild arctic cod liver oil in the triglyceride form for optimal absorption.

Nordic Naturals follows strict manufacturing standards and provides a Certificate of Analysis for every bottle. Additionally, all products are non-GMO and third-party tested. We also love that Nordic Naturals is Friend of the Sea certified, which verifies that the fish used are sustainably sourced. 

This DHA liquid comes in two flavor varieties (orange and strawberry), giving kids with particular palates plenty of options, and contains no artificial colors or flavors. Note the recommended range is only up to 6 years, so older children may do better with a different omega 3 supplement if needed.

Price at time of publication: $28 ($0.29 per serving)

Key Specs:
Liquid | Type: DHA | Dose: ½ teaspoon | Third-Party Certified: yes | Servings Per Container: 96

Best Probiotic

SmartyPants Kids Probiotic Immunity Formula

SmartyPants Kids Probiotic Immunity Formula


  • Third-party tested and NSF certified

  • No refrigeration required

  • Inexpensive

  • Contains 3 grams of added sugar

SmartyPants is our top probiotic choice for autistic children because it’s a third-party tested, a potentially effective prebiotic and probiotic combination, in a kid-friendly strawberry-crème flavor.

SmartyPants combines a prebiotic with two strains of well-researched probiotics to help support overall immunity and digestive health. The probiotics are naturally encapsulated as spores, which means they’re arriving to your child’s gut alive, allowing them to get the most out of the 4 billion CFU in every dose. 

Every batch is third-party tested, so you know that what you see is what you get. Plus, we like that these probiotics are vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free and contain no synthetic ingredients or major allergens. 

Price at time of publication: $23 ($0.77 per serving)

Key Specs:
Gummy | Type: Probiotic | Dose: 2 gummies | Third-Party Certified: Spec | Servings Per Container: 30

Best Vitamin D

Source Naturals Vitamin D-3 Liquid Drops

Source Naturals Vitamin D-3 Liquid Drops 2000 iu Supports Bone & Immune Health - 4 Fluid oz


  • Third-party tested

  • Flexible dosing

  • Optimal form of vitamin D

  • Liquid form can be hard to measure exact dosage

We love the flexibility, affordability, and quality of Source Naturals Vitamin D-3 Liquid Drops. One drop provides 222 IU of vitamin D as cholecalciferol, the optimal and most efficient form of vitamin D for the body. 

Note that the recommended dose on the bottle of nine drops contains 2,000 IUs, which is above the UL for children below one year of age. Just two drops would meet the RDA for children under one years old, and three drops for children ages 1-18 years. If your child has been diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency, a healthcare professional may recommend taking a higher dose until vitamin D levels are in a normal range. This product gives you flexibility to go up or down in dosage based on the recommendation of your healthcare provider for your child’s individual needs.

The faint lemon-orange flavor can be taken on its own or mixed into other liquids if your child doesn’t like the taste, so it’s a good choice even for picky eaters. Source Naturals prides themselves on quality standards with materials and manufacturing and is third-party tested for purity and potency. It is also free of sweeteners and artificial flavors and colors.

Price at time of publication: $15 ($0.02 per serving)

Key Specs:
Liquid | Type: Vitamin D-3 | Dose: child-dependent | Third-Party Certified: Consumer Labs | Servings Per Container: 695

Best Calcium

Bluebonnet Rainforest Animalz Multiple Chewable

Bluebonnet Rainforest Animalz Multiple Chewable


  • Third-party tested

  • Organic and non-GMO certified

  • Inexpensive

  • Strong flavor

The fun animal shaped chewable tablets are only one of many reasons Bluebonnet Rainforest AnimalZ is our pick as a calcium supplement for autistic kids. This calcium supplement is organic, non-GMO certified, and budget-friendly. While it tastes like vanilla frosting, it contains minimal added sugar and no artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors. It’s also free of major allergens and gluten. 

Note that this supplement also contains magnesium and vitamin D, two nutrients that are essential for optimizing absorption and utilization of calcium. If your child is taking any other supplements, including a multivitamin or an individual vitamin D or magnesium supplement, make sure that their total intake does not exceed the established UL (Tolerable Upper Intake Level) for any of these vitamins and minerals. 

Price at time of publication: $13 ($0.29 per serving)

Key Specs:
Chewable | Type: Spec | Dose: 2 chewable tablets | Third-Party Certified: Spec | Servings Per Container: 45

Best Magnesium

Mary Ruth’s Kids Magnesium Calm Gummies

Mary Ruth’s Kids Magnesium Calm Gummies

Mary Ruth’s

  • Third-party tested

  • One gummy per day

  • Suitable for vegan diets

  • Contains stevia and sugar alcohol

If you’re looking for a supplement that can have numerous potential health benefits, Breta Alstrom, MS, RDN, who specializes in working with autistic kids, suggests magnesium. Our top pick for magnesium supplement for autistic kids is Mary Ruth’s Kids Magnesium Calm Gummies. In addition to magnesium, this supplement contains L-theanine, an amino acid that has been associated with mitigating stress and promoting relaxation. 

According to Alstrom, low magnesium can impact everything from sleep to gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, to anxiety and depression, but checking blood levels can be difficult to measure. It's best to check with your medical provider before starting a magnesium supplement and for recommended dosing.

Mary Ruth’s products are third-party tested for accurate ingredient amounts, microbial contaminants, and heavy metals, which bring them to the top of our list. We also love that these gummies are both tasty and easy to take–just one sugar-free hibiscus-flavored gummy is recommended for kids four years and older. 

These Magnesium Calm Gummies are certified organic, vegan, non-GMO, and free of nuts, gluten, wheat, soy, corn, and sugar. The sweet flavor comes from stevia leaf and the sugar alcohol erythritol, and it is free from artificial colors.  

Price at time of publication: $27 ($0.45 per serving)

Key Specs:
Gummy | Type: Spec | Dose: 1 gummy | Third-Party Certified: Yes | Servings Per Container: 60

Supplements for Autism We Excluded From Our List

There’s no shortage of autism-specific supplements on the market that claim to boost neurological function and improve symptoms. Many contain excessively high doses of vitamins and minerals. 

We did not include these on our list due to limited data of their benefits and efficacy as well as a lack of third-party testing.

How We Select Supplements

Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain supplements; you can read more about our dietary supplement methodology here

We support supplements that are evidence-based and rooted in science. We value certain product attributes that we find to be associated with the highest quality products. We prioritize products that are third-party tested and certified by one of three independent, third party certifiers: USP, NSF, or 

It's important to note that the FDA does not review dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before they go to market. Our team of experts has created a detailed, science-backed methodology to choose the supplements we recommend.

What to Look For in Supplements for Autism

Third-Party Testing

Supplements that are third-party tested are sent to a lab where they are tested to ensure they contain what they say they contain and are not contaminated with specific high-risk, common contaminants. However, it’s important to note:

  • Third party testing does not test to see if a product is effective or safe for everyone, and it does not ensure the supplement will not interact with other supplements or medications.
  • Not all third-party testing is created equal. It is not uncommon for supplement companies to pay labs for certificates after conducting minimal to no testing. 
  • The third party certifications we can trust are:, NSF, and USP. However, these certifications are difficult to obtain and/or expensive for manufacturers, so many companies choose not to get their products tested by one of these three organizations. 
  • Sometimes products tested by these three companies are more expensive to try to offset the cost they pay for certification.
  • Just because a supplement is not tested by one of these three companies, it does not mean it’s a bad product. We recommend doing some research on the reputability of the manufacturer, and calling up the manufacturer and their testing lab to determine their protocols and decide if you feel comfortable consuming the supplement.


We aimed to include supplements in a variety of forms and flavors knowing that children with autism often have sensory sensitivities that can impact food preferences.

Because the MTHFR mutation is so common in autistic individuals, it was important that all supplements included methylated, activated and/or the most bioavailable versions of nutrients whenever possible to optimize absorption.

We also aimed to exclude unnecessary ingredients and additives like dyes and added sugar.

Ingredients & Potential Interactions

It is essential to carefully read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel of a supplement to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included, relative to the recommended daily value of that ingredient. Please bring the supplement label to a healthcare provider to review the different ingredients contained in the supplement and any potential interactions between these ingredients and other supplements and medications you are taking.


Consider your child's age when selecting the best supplement for them, as the RDAs vary for different ages. Follow the age guidelines outlined on the product packaging, and speak with a healthcare provider to ensure that the product and dosage are appropriate to meet your child's needs.

Alstrom points out that the RDA is not always the best target for children with autism and that supplement dosing should be based on individual patient data. However, RDAs provide a baseline recommendation based on age. 

Multivitamins: There is no specific regulatory definition or standard of what nutrients a children’s multivitamin must contain and at what levels. Therefore, there are no RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) guidelines established for multivitamins. However, there are RDAs and ULs (Tolerable Upper Intake Level) for the individual vitamins and minerals they contain, outlined by the National Institutes of Health

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Experts have not established recommended amounts for omega-3 fatty acids, except for ALA. In the United States, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has outlined average daily recommendations for ALA for all ages and genders, as follows:

  • Birth to 12 months: 0.5 g (total omega-3s, not ALA alone)
  • Children 1-3 years: 0.7 g ALA
  • Children 4-8 years: 0.9 g ALA
  • Boys 9-13 years: 1.2 g ALA
  • Girls 9-13 years: 1.0 g ALA
  • Teen boys 14-18 years: 1.6 g ALA
  • Teen girls 14-18 years: 1.1 g ALA

Vitamin D: According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the RDAs for vitamin D are 400 IU for 0-12 months and 600 IU for ages one to thirteen. However, it is important to note that oftentimes, healthcare professionals will recommend a higher dosage of vitamin D to correct a deficiency.

Calcium: According to current recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for calcium are as follows:

  • Birth to 6 months: 200 mg 
  • 7-12 months: 260 mg
  • 1-3 years: 700 mg 
  • 4-8 years: 1,000 mg 
  • 9-18 years: 1,300 mg

Magnesium: According to current recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for calcium are as follows:

  • Birth to 6 months: 30 mg (*Adequate Intake)
  • 7-12 months: 75 mg (*Adequate Intake)
  • 1-3 years: 80 mg 
  • 4-8 years: 130 mg 
  • 9-13 years: 240 mg

Probiotics: Probiotic use is still an emerging area of research and there is currently no standardized RDA. In her practice, Coleman recommends prebiotics first and when using probiotics looks for one with at least 10 billion CFU and a combination of Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Saccharomyces strains. 

How Much is Too Much?

Studies have shown that autistic children are at risk for over supplementation of some nutrients, which can cause imbalances in nutritional status and potential health risks. According to Alstrom, this can be the result of supplementation done without proper nutritional testing or medical supervision.

Sometimes deficiencies warrant higher doses, which should be taken under the care of a healthcare professional. In general, it is not recommended to exceed the established ULs (Tolerable Upper Intake Levels) for any nutrient. If your child is taking a multivitamin, check what vitamins and minerals are included and in what amounts before adding individual, single-nutrient supplements, to be sure not to exceed the UL for any vitamin or mineral.

Multivitamins: While there are no recommended intakes for multivitamins, there are RDAs and ULs (Tolerable Upper Intake Level) for the individual vitamins and minerals they contain, outlined by the National Institutes of Health

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: While there is no established UL for adults or children, the FDA recommends consuming no more than 5 grams per day of EPA and DHA combined from dietary supplements for adults. Unfortunately, there is no specific threshold limit for children established. We recommend sticking close to the RDA for children as listed above, unless otherwise directed by a healthcare professional.

Vitamin D: The established ULs for vitamin D are:

  • 0-6 months: 1,000 IU
  • 7-12 months 1,500 IU
  • 1-3 years: 2,500 IU
  • 4-8 years: 3,000 IU
  • 9 years +: 4,000 IU

Calcium: The established ULs for calcium are:

  • Birth to 6 months: 1,000 mg 
  • 7-12 months: 1,500 mg
  • 1-8 years: 2,500 mg 
  • 9-18 years: 3,000 mg

Magnesium: The established ULs for supplemental magnesium (magnesium from supplements alone, not including from food) are:

  • Birth to 12 months: None established 
  • 1-3 years: 65 mg
  • 4-8 years: 110 mg 
  • 9+ years: 350 mg


There is currently no established upper limit for probiotics. Though generally considered safe, probiotic use is an emerging area of research, and more studies are needed to establish recommended doses.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the best vitamin for autism?

    There is no “one size fits all” vitamin for kids on the spectrum. As Coleman says, “it largely comes down to the individual's needs.” 

    While the best approach is to get support from a healthcare practitioner, like a dietitian or pediatrician, who can evaluate your child’s individual needs, a well-rounded multivitamin that contains methylated B vitamins can be a safe starting point to fill in any nutritional gaps.

  • Is vitamin D good for autism?

    Several studies show that children with autism have significantly lower vitamin D levels than typically developing children. Some studies suggest that vitamin D supplementation may improve autistic symptoms in children, however, more research is needed. Additionally, evidence suggests that early childhood vitamin D deficiency might contribute to some cases of autism.

  • Do probiotics help with autism?

    Some research indicates that gut dysbiosis, essentially an imbalance of gut microbiota, could be connected to autism and children with autism have been found to have greatly different intestinal flora compared to kids without autism. Probiotics may be helpful in supporting a healthy gut microbiome, but the exact strains and amounts of probiotics should be guided from a healthcare professional.

  • Is natural medicine good for autism?

    There is no shortage of anecdotal evidence promoting the use of natural or herbal medicine to treat autistic symptoms in children. Robust scientific research, however, is limited. This is due in part to the diversity of natural medicines and therapies as well as a lack of treatment standardization.

  • Can vitamins help with speech delay?

    Many substances, including vitamins, have been proposed to improve speech in children with autism and studies suggest that some may be effective. Some studies suggest that supplementation of vitamin B6 and folic acid alone and in combination with vitamin B12 may help to improve speech. 

    Vitamin D has also been suggested as a potential therapy to improve speech delay in autism, and one clinical trial found improved social communicative function in children with autism when combining vitamin D and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

    Large clinical trials are still needed to better establish potential therapies and appropriate doses.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Jennifer Friedman, MS RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with her master's degree in Nutrition and Public Health from Teachers College Columbia University and a specialization in pediatric nutrition. She is the founder of Jenny Friedman Nutrition LLC, a coaching practice that helps children with eating challenges comfortably and confidently eat a wider variety of foods.

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