Gummy vitamins seem like the perfect idea for promoting health. They offer nutrients in a convenient form, one that is especially appealing to kids.
And, why not? Even people who hate pills would be happy to have a gummy or two every day.
But, are gummy vitamins effective? Or, are they just a way for companies to cash in?
This post looks at the key areas to consider, along with what experts have to say.
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Gummy Supplements – Pros & Cons
At first glance, gummy supplements may seem like a gimmick. After all, they’re basically just multivitamins in a different form. This is true but there are still reasons you may want gummy vitamins, along with reasons why you might not. Let’s take a look.
Gummy supplements do have some merits. For one, they’re easy to consume.
Many brands also focus on making their gummies taste good. In some cases, you even end up with gummies that taste like regular candy.
This makes them perfect for anyone who struggles to swallow supplements. They also work well for people who simply don’t like pills (including kids).
They can also be absorbed faster than regular supplements, as they’re chewed first (1). In contrast, pill-based supplements can sometimes be slow to dissolve, which decreases the potential benefits.
Unfortunately, there are more problems with gummy vitamins than there are advantages. This is an issue that other sites have highlighted as well. For example, Livestrong talks about some of the concerns surrounding gummy vitamins, as does the Huffington Post.
1. Labels aren’t reliable
The supplement industry is mostly unregulated, with many products not offering what their labels claim. This issue can normally be avoided by choosing high-quality brands and looking for independent testing results.
But, the problem is much worse for gummy supplements.
This happens because it’s much harder to reliably add nutrients into gummies. There is an increased chance of some components degrading as well. Companies often add more of some nutrients to try and get around this.
The end result is that gummies may contain less of some nutrients than the label suggests and more of others. That’s a pretty serious issue.
2. Teeth problems
Gummies that contain sugar aren’t great for the teeth and that sugar isn’t ideal for health either.
Even sugar-free ones aren’t entirely safe. Instead, they can still contribute to a biofilm forming on the teeth. If people don’t brush regularly, this can play a role in plaque formation (2).
If you do plan to use gummy supplements, it’s important to brush afterward to reduce this issue.
3. Missing nutrients
Gummy multivitamins typically contain fewer vitamins and minerals than traditional counterparts. For example, some might be lacking in magnesium and calcium.
This may mean that some nutrients must be obtained from a separate supplement or from your diet. Having to take two (or more) supplements to get all the nutrients you want may not be desirable.
The levels of nutrients are also relatively low.
For example, regular multivitamins often have 100% (or more) of the RDA for many vitamins and minerals. But, gummy supplements will often have 50% of the RDA or even less.
4. Risk of overconsumption
Multivitamins are presented as safe. But, it is still possible to overdose on the nutrients. The biggest issue is simply having too many of the pills or gummies.
This is a significant problem for gummies because they often taste good. They can also feel harmless and a little like candy, especially for kids. This increases the chance of an overdose.
The appearance and taste of the gummies also make accidental overdoses possible (3). Some children may mistake the gummies for candy. Others may know they’re vitamins but try to sneak extra anyway, simply because they look harmless.
5. Extra ingredients
To create something with a gummy texture and an appealing flavor, companies must use more ingredients than regular vitamin supplements.
The exact ingredients vary depending on the brand – but you will often see glucose syrup, gelatin, food dyes and artificial flavors.
In fact, sugar is a common ingredient in gummy supplements. The amount isn’t high because the supplements are so small. But, this is still extra sugar, which isn’t great for your health.
Do Kids Need Supplements?
Gummy vitamins are often targeted at kids. They’re easy to eat and come in fun colors and shapes – increasing the odds that kids will actually take them. They might be especially appealing for kids that resist pills.
But, are they a good idea?
Marketing often suggests that more is better. But, for vitamins and minerals, that’s not true. Instead, vitamin overdoses are possible and can easily occur.
Some vitamins (like vitamin A, E and K) are also stored in the fat. This means any excess will stay in the body, potentially causing harm in the future.
Kids with a well-balanced diet shouldn’t need many, if any, nutritional supplements. And, of course, getting the nutrients from the diet will always be much healthier.
If you’re concerned about your child’s health, the first step should never be to simply add on supplements. Instead, talk to their doctor and go through any tests needed to find out what the underlying issue actually is.
Even so, supplements do have their merits.
Despite parents’ best efforts, many kids won’t be eating the perfect diet, not all of the time. Financial constraints may limit the options and available time may do so as well. Some kids also simply refuse to eat all that’s put in front of them and might avoid some foods entirely.
For these situations, supplements may make sense. But, even if that’s true, multivitamins are rarely the answer.
Instead, it’s better to focus on supplements that you know are necessary. The most powerful examples are as follows:
- Vitamin D. While we synthesize vitamin D in the sun, many people aren’t getting enough. This includes children. Vitamin D supplements are a common and easy solution, with some pediatricians regularly prescribing them.
- Omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids offer numerous benefits. But, unless you’re eating 2 to 3 servings of fish each week, using a supplement is important. Fish oil supplements are a common approach, especially for kids who don’t like eating fish.
- Calcium. In many cases, kids will be getting enough calcium. But, that’s not always true. As a result, some may need to supplement calcium as well.
- Iron. Iron is another important nutrient where intake can vary. For kids that don’t get enough, supplements are a good option, especially if they’re resistant to eating iron-rich foods. However, it’s best to have iron levels tested first, as the body is not efficient at clearing out excess iron (4).
The site Children's MD goes into these various nutrients in more depth, including doses and why they are so significant.
What About Adults?
The same general concepts apply for adults. You’re probably already getting most of the nutrients that you need from your diet.
Once again, if you do need more nutrients in some areas, it’s best to get them from food or individual supplements.
In fact, many people argue that multivitamin supplements offer little to no benefit – and most the vitamins won’t even be absorbed (5,6,7). There is even evidence that multivitamins may cause harm, especially as they can provide high amounts of some nutrients (8,9). For example, the site Nutrition Advance talks about how supplements may contribute to heart disease and cancer in some cases.
It’s surprisingly easy to overdose on nutrients when taking multivitamins. After all, the recommended dose can’t take your current diet or biological needs into account.
And finally, the quality of nutrients is often lower with supplements (10). For example, most compounds have multiple versions, including stereoisomers. But, manufactured or extracted nutrients have different ratios of these variations or may only contain one (11).
This means that you’ll always get more benefits from food than from a supplement.
This is also a topic that the authors at Healthline consider in more detail. Their discussion looks at the research behind multivitamins, along with what people may want to use them.
In some cases, you may also choose a supplement for a specific purpose. For example, magnesium is sometimes used to treat depression while the herb ashwagandha is associated with increased testosterone. But, those are different considerations and it's still best to use individual supplements, rather than a multivitamin.
Times When Supplements Are Needed
There are exceptions, of course, for both adults and kids. Some people may need to supplement because of a medical condition or because they have an extremely limited diet.
Specific diet types may also require extra supplements. For example, vegans often supplement vitamin B12 and people on a keto diet can need magnesium supplements. The latter is because many magnesium-rich foods also contain carbs and magnesium deficiency is a relatively common issue anyway.
More than anything, you need to pay attention to your own body.
Most nutritional deficiencies have symptoms that you can easily identify. You may also be able to tell from your diet where deficiencies are likely. For example, if you tend to avoid red meat, you risk being iron deficient. If that’s the case, you may want to increase your intake of iron-rich foods or use an iron supplement.
Are Gummy Vitamins Effective?
The end result is that many children and adults won’t need multivitamins. And, if they do, gummy vitamins aren’t the best choice. Instead, many have fewer nutrients than they should and can be bad for the teeth.
In some cases, chewable vitamins may make a better alternative. These may not seem as appealing as gummy vitamins, but they are another way to avoid swallowing whole pills.
It’s also easier to get the right nutrients in chewable vitamins. This means there’s a better chance that you’ll get what you paid for and chewable vitamins will often have more nutrients included (12). The site Livestrong goes into this topic in more detail, including the differences between chewable and gummy vitamins.
Even with all their limitations, gummy vitamins can be effective if you choose the right brand. In some cases, they may even be the only practical option for making sure kids (or adults) get the nutrients that they need.
And, as long as the dose is correct, gummy vitamins aren’t likely to cause major harm either. So, they can still be a viable idea in some situations.
The Best Gummy Vitamins
Because of the challenges involved in making gummy vitamins, many of the brands aren’t up to standard. Instead, they’ll often contain different amounts of nutrients than the label suggests.
The main way to know whether a brand is any good is through independent testing. But, only some products are tested in this way. As a result, there are just two main products that we recommend, both of which have passed this type of testing.
The first is the Nature’s Way Alive Women’s gummy vitamins. These make use of a fruit and vegetable blend and offer 16 different nutrients.
The serving size here is 3 gummies and that offers the RDA of vitamins C, B6, B12, D3, folic acid, iodine and biotin. There are also lower amounts of other nutrients including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin A.
These gummies are also free from gluten, gelatin, dairy, preservatives and artificial flavors.
This particular product was the only Nature’s Way gummy that went through Consumer Labs’ independent testing. However, it’s likely that other products from the same brand are also high quality. These include similar gummies for men, for children and for adults in general.
The other product is Bayer Flintstones Gummies Complete. As the name suggests, this option is marketed at kids, which is also obvious in the choice of ingredients.
Nutritionally, this supplement is appealing. It offers significant levels of vitamin D, B6, B12 and A, along with various other nutrients. The serving here is 1 gummy per day for children aged 2 or 3 years old, and 2 gummies for anyone aged 4 or above.
There are various nutrients not present, including calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium.
Iron is probably excluded because it is one nutrient that can cause serious problems with an overdose. By leaving it out of the supplement, the company has reduced the negative outcomes if too many are taken.
Reviews suggest that the gummies taste good and kids will take them without an issue.
But, to achieve this, the company does rely on sugar and artificial flavors. There are also various food dyes included. You’re even getting 3 grams of sugar per gummy. That’s not a large amount overall but it’s fairly high for how small the gummies are.
As a result, this brand may not suit people who are focused on clean eating.
Beyond these two brands, the site Children's MD offers details about what to consider when choosing a gummy vitamin and how to decide whether this option is right for you.
One final note – unlike other supplements, gummy vitamins normally need to be stored in the fridge (13). This is because they require a stable temperature. You may also want to hide the gummies behind other items if you have kids in the house – so that they don’t get mistaken for sweets.
For the right situation, gummy vitamins can be effective. They are a source of key nutrients and can be easy to consume. They’re particularly relevant for people who struggle with regular supplements and with chewable tablets.
Even so, they do come with many disadvantages. You simply won’t get the same range of nutrients as with a regular multivitamin and there’s a good chance that the label is inaccurate.
As a result, it’s always best to get your nutrients from whole food first. If that’s not an option, consider using individual supplements to tackle key deficiencies, such as vitamin D3 and fish oil supplements.
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