Sure, they taste great. Some just like candy!
But they’re not meant to satisfy your hunger craving.
They’re for your health.
Yet, they may be making you unhealthy.
There are some scenarios where gummies are the best option. Though for most people, particularly adults and pregnant women seeking a good neonatal multivitamin, gummies and chewables should not be your first choice.
Increased risk of cavities, eating too many and overdosing, as well as other dangers need to be considered.
7 reasons gummy vitamins are bad
1. Contains added sugar
Vitafusion MultiVites Essential Multi is America’s #1 gummy vitamin brand, according to the label.
There’s no reason to doubt that claim. From Walmart to Walgreens, and just about every other chain store, you will likely find this brand for sale.
Each serving size of 2 gummies contains 15 calories, 4g of carbs and 3g of which are in form of added sugars.
That equates to a ¾ teaspoon of sugar each time you take your vitamins!
Worse yet, it’s in the form of glucose syrup. Sugar that’s easily and quickly absorbed. Not ideal for diabetics, or anyone else who cares about an unnecessary glycemic impact.
According to the bottle, L’il Critters vitamin C gummy bears are said to be “kid and mom approved.”
What kind of mom approves of a health supplement whose first ingredient is glucose syrup?!
2. Not good for teeth
Dr. Maryann Griffith is a dentist who has been practicing for 30+ years in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She’s also a regular reader of Superfoodly. This is what she had to share with us regarding the dangers to your dental health:
“I’m not a fan of gummy vitamins because they are candy in its worst form: sticky and sweet. The stickiness holds the sugar onto the teeth where they slowly dissolve. Bacterial plaque then eats the sugar and releases cavity-making acid onto the teeth.”
3. May be less effective than tablets
Do gummy vitamins really work?
ConsumerLab.com did independent testing on 50 multivitamin brands, including several gummy versions. Problems were discovered with 46%, with gummy versions being “especially problematic” having an 80% failure rate. This was based on having significantly less or more vitamin A, D, folate, and/or calcium than listed.
Because Consumer Lab is a paid membership website, they copyright the results and prohibit republishing. So we can’t reproduce them here for you, but these were the brands they tested:
- Nature’s Way Alive Women’s Gummy Vitamins
- VitaFusion Platinum 50+ Natural Peach Flavor
- The Honest Company Gummy Multi-Vitamin
- Flintstones Gummies Complete
- Well at Walgreens Multivitamin Gummies Adult
- Olly The Perfect Women’s Multi
It is true that gummies may work better for bioavailability, because they offer the benefit of being broken down immediately in your mouth. That’s unlike a hard tablet or capsule, which takes time to dissolve in the digestive tract. However, if their ingredient amounts are not consistent and reliable, then the better bioavailability is somewhat moot.
4. Risk of overdose
Can you overdose on gummy vitamins?
Yes. Eating too many gummy vitamins can result in side effects including stomach ache, constipation and diarrhea from excess iron, blood thinning or clotting from vitamins E and K, skin flushing from B3, and nerve damage from B6. Too much of these and some other ingredients can be poisonous or toxic. Because most of those are fat-soluble, excess amounts can build-up easily in the body.
You can take too much vitamin C, but because it’s water-soluble, the risks are different. Most notably, kidney damage due to long term overdosing for months or years. That’s different than overdosing on fat-soluble vitamins, which can cause adverse effects rather quickly. (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
Manufacturer instructions for vitamin gummies typically list 2 per day. Taking that amount will be safe, non-poisonous, and will not result in an overdose, assuming the active ingredients don’t exceed the upper tolerable intake levels (UL).
The problem with gummy vitamins is that because they taste good, some people eat more than the daily recommended dosage. Particularly young kids, if they get their hands on a bottle.
Some adults intentionally eat more of them, due to false beliefs that doing so is healthier.
Eating too many can result in an overdose of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals. Short and long term side effects may result.
5. Less room for other phytonutrients
Since the average gummy dose has about ¾ teaspoon of added sugar, there’s less room to add beneficial nutrients.
Most gummies and chewables contain 100% of the daily value, if not more, for all the essential vitamins and minerals which you may fall short on from your food sources. This includes the brands Vitafusion, Smarty Pants, Garden of Life Mykind Organics, Centrum, L’il Critters, Nature’s Way Alive, and other multivitamins for men, women, children, and toddlers.
So all of those brands – as well as most others – are providing sufficient amounts of the essentials you need.
But what about other nutrients?
We’re talking about those which are not deemed “essential” by the government, yet they still may provide you with health benefits.
We use the myKind Organics men’s multi tablets (not gummies or chewables). If you take a look at what’s inside, you will see there’s a number of beneficial fruits, veggies, and herbal supplements included:
If you’re taking a multi that’s made to taste like candy, naturally that requires more space to be allocated to the added sugars. There’s less room available for other healthy ingredients.
6. Probably contains gelatin
Finding vegan gummy bears, worms, or similar candies typically requires an online order. That’s because to achieve this texture, the cheapest or easiest way to do so is with gelatin.
Gelatin comes from the boiling of skin, ligaments, tendons and/or bones from pigs and cows. Not vegan or vegetarian friendly. Often it’s not kosher, either.
To achieve the same texture as candy, most brands of gummy multivitamins are made with gelatin.
Vitafusion for adults, men, women, and prenatal all list gelatin in the ingredients list. As do L’il Critters, which is Vitafusion’s brand for kids. Their non-multi chewies are also made with gelatin, including the calcium, vitamin C, omega 3 DHA EPA, and the hair, skin and nails formula.
Not to beat up on Vitafusion though, because almost all brands use gelatin, including the generics like Trader Joe’s gummy vits.
If you want a vegan multi and insist on a gummy, Garden of Life Mykind Organics makes the best one. They don’t use gelatin and they’re soy, dairy, and gluten free. On Amazon here’s the women’s version, the men’s, the prenatal, and the one for kids.
7. May contain artificial coloring
The good news is that the top selling brand, Vitafusion, now uses all natural coloring such as annato extract, blueberry, and carrot concentrates.
The bad news is that many other brands still use artificial food coloring like Yellow 6 and Red 40. Those and other dyes are banned or require a warning label in Europe, due to evidence of adverse of neurological dangers in young children. You can read more about that in our piece on organic food coloring.
The above label is for One A Day women’s gummies, which they market as VitaCraves. Sure, they’re not for children, but even as an adult, do you really want or need those colors added?!
As you see they contain wheat, so they’re not gluten free. That’s yet one more disadvantage for many.
When are they better than tablets?
Under certain circumstances, gummy vitamins can be better than regular vitamins in tablet or capsule form.
Swallowing pills is not enjoyable for anyone, so that in and of itself is not a good reason.
However, some people have medical conditions which may prevent them from doing so.
For the elderly, those with Parkinson’s disease, and other medical conditions, it may actually be more dangerous to try and swallow a regular vitamin.
If you have an abnormal digestive tract, you may experience better absorption by taking a gummy multivitamin.
Severe Crohn’s disease patients may have had part of their intestine removed, or even their entire colon. Anyone who has undergone gastric bypass surgery, which is different than the gastric sleeve, has a reduced ability to absorb certain vitamins and nutrients.
Toddlers and young children can be extremely picky. Their need for a good multi becomes even more important when they refuse to eat a healthy and balanced diet. In that case, a little sugar is a small price to pay for providing them with the essential vitamins and minerals they need. Just make sure it’s a brand that doesn’t use artificial colors. Also, have them brush their teeth after to reduce cavity risk.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.