The rise of vitamins in a sweet gummy form has risen significantly over the past ten years. When most of us were young, chalky, chewable vitamins were our only option to get our daily-recommended vitamins. In a move to get more kids to happily take their daily vitamin, companies have moved towards gummy vitamins for both children and adults alike. What this has caused many of us to wonder is just how healthy are gummies that taste just like candy?
Let’s take a look at whether gummies are a healthy and safe option or more like sugar-filled candy versus a healthy vitamin.
Sugar to nutrient ratio
As companies create gummy vitamin formulas they pay very close attention to flavor, and in order to entice kids to choose their vitamin over other gummies on the market, they do all they can to mimic sweet daily treats. The problem is that in most cases, this comes at a cost where nutritional values get compromised, and sugar plays too big of a role.
Because the Food and Drug Administration does not test supplements in the United States, there are no real guarantees about what is in your gummy vitamin. If we were confident about the sugar to nutrient ratio, gummies might be a great choice. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.
High levels of sugar
Speaking of sugar – probably the biggest criticism of gummy vitamins is their sugar content. This type of vitamin was specifically made to look and taste like a gummy bear, sugar and all. When comparing gummy vitamins to standard vitamins it is estimated that gummy vitamins contain 7 times the sugar and 4 times the calories per serving. While your kids may be more likely to say yes to their gummy vitamin, it leaves you wondering whether these vitamins are any better than candy?
Nutritional value of gummy vitamins
So, are gummy vitamins any better than a couple of gummy bears? Theoretically, yes – because gummy vitamins do contain some level of nutritional supplementation in the form of various necessary vitamins and nutrients. Without FDA testing standards the variance of what is actually in a gummy vitamin leaves us with a giant question mark.
Preservatives, artificial colors and other pesky ingredients
They have to do something to get those gummy vitamins to taste like gummy bears, right? In addition to high levels of sugar and largely unknown levels of vitamins, most gummies contain additional unwanted chemicals and other substances that children should not be consuming. Many of the most widely used gummy vitamins contain artificial preservatives, colors and flavorings. Many contain food coloring like Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6, which are known to be the worst for kids and adults alike.
The risk of overconsumption
One of the issues that many health providers have against many gummy vitamins is their close relation to candy from a taste perspective. Gummy vitamins came onto the supplement scene as a convenient way for parents to get their kids to take vitamins and maybe even enjoy them. The side effect is that kids can potentially enjoy them too much. Should a child gain access to the delicious gummies and consume them much like they would candy, the consequences could be very serious.
What many parents may not know is that our bodies can’t consume an unlimited amount of fat-soluble vitamins – including vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins are (by definition) not water-soluble, which means we can’t get rid of them safely. If kids consume too much of these vitamins they might experience nausea, fatigue and muscle weakness. In more serious cases important organs can begin to shut down.
To give another example, iron is an important nutrient for children as iron deficiency, which is common in toddlers, can significantly affect normal development and hinder mental and physical performance. But too much iron is dangerous. In fact, accidental overdose of iron-containing products is a leading cause of fatal poisoning in children under six years old.
Are natural or organic gummies any better?
The answer to this question is both yes and no. While many organic and natural gummy vitamins are better than their non-organic counterparts they are still not the best option. Many contain high amounts of sugar. Whether the sugar is organic or not doesn’t help our bodies process it more effectively. If a gummy is a must, opt for organic or natural, but when possible stick with traditional pill or chewable forms of multi vitamins to get the most from your supplement.
The Big Question – Are gummy vitamins effective?
This question is the crux of the whole debate. While studies have shown mixed reviews on whether gummy vitamins are healthy and effective, one thing is clear; when you compare traditional vitamins with gummy vitamins, there is a significant difference. Traditional chewable vitamins surpass gummy vitamins in their safety, efficacy and health benefits.
So how do I get my kids to take their vitamins?
Fortunately a few highly respected companies are paying attention to this parenting woe. With chewable options that are void of high levels of sugar, preservatives and other hidden dangers – taste does not have to be sacrificed. Parents can find peace knowing that their little ones are getting the vitamins they need without all of the excess found in candy.
What we now know is that while gummies may be easy to take, they are not the healthiest option. With high levels of sugar, food coloring and preservatives, they closely resemble candy for a reason.
Be sure that your family gets what it needs out of their vitamins, and with some great options on the market, you don’t have to skimp on taste and texture.