Gummy vitamins: The delicious, chewy multivitamin daily boosters are well-liked by children (and adults!). Parents, on the other hand, should be aware of these potential hazards.
I went to the supermarket for a children’s iron supplement after a recent blood test revealed one of my sons had low iron levels. And what I saw were endless rows of brightly colored gummies including vegan gummy vitamins.
Gummy natural vitamins for energy, it turns out, are a burgeoning section of the multibillion-dollar supplement industry. (They’re even gaining popularity among adults who don’t want to take pills.) Gummies appear to be a delicious and simple approach to help the medications go down. Is there, however, a drawback?
Pediatrician Natalie Muth, M.D., RDN, co-author of The Picky Eater Project, adds, “I never offer gummy vitamins to my patients.” For starters, they typically have more added sugar than other vitamins, according to her.
It’s not unusual for a serving (usually two gummies) to have nearly a teaspoon of added sugar. That’s a lot, considering the suggested daily limit is six tablespoons!
Another stumbling block: they resemble and taste like candies. Some are even sugar-coated, giving them the appearance of Sour Patch Kids rather than a supplement. As a result, children may be enticed to take more vitamins than they require, which can be hazardous, particularly if the vitamin contains iron, which the body only requires in trace amounts. “Kids identify ‘healthy’ with something that looks a lot like sweets,” Dr. Muth explains.
According to Dr. Muth, most children do not require supplements. The exceptions include vitamin D and iron, which are beneficial to breastfed newborns. Iron supplementation is required for children with borderline anemia.
Supplements can also help deliver required nutrients like vitamin B12 and calcium when a diet restricts food groups or categories, such as a vegan diet or a dairy restriction.
What about vitamins for children who are finicky eaters? According to Dr. Muth, a multivitamin such as Rite multivitamin might act as “insurance” for children with extreme selective eating as they learn to widen their diet. She may offer one if parents are concerned about their child’s eating habits (or lack thereof).
Dr. Mark Moyad, the Jenkins/Pomkempner Director of Preventive and Alternative Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical Center, is concerned about children and adults becoming accustomed to consuming nutrients in sweet forms.
All of that sugar can build up if someone takes many gummy vitamins each day—many of which require you to consume two or three gummies to get a complete dose of the contained nutrients.
According to Moyad, it’s like eating Halloween sweets all year. “We should be getting our nutrition from whole, unprocessed foods, not sweets, in the midst of the worst epidemic of juvenile and adult obesity our country has ever seen.”
Many people believe that supplements are a safe and convenient method to receive a lot of the nutrients present in food, but this isn’t always the case.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “[supplements] can’t match all of the nutrients and advantages of complete foods.” Experts also warn that the vast majority of supplements are not evaluated for safety or efficacy.
While supplements can help patients with specific nutritional deficiencies—especially if they are prescribed by a doctor—the evidence for daily multivitamins is mixed. Multivitamins had no impact on mortality, according to a 2012 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
When it comes to cancer and heart disease prevention, the US Preventive Services Task Force has found “insufficient evidence” that vitamin supplements are effective. The Task Force has cautioned against consuming beta carotene and vitamin E supplements.
So, here’s my two cents if you’re searching for a supplement for your child: If possible, choose a chewable tablet over a gummy, and compare brands to locate one with less sugar. Choose one that doesn’t include artificial dyes while you’re reading the fine print.
Don’t be fooled by fancy supplements with extra herbs (supplements aren’t highly regulated, so it’s difficult to know whether you’re getting enough) and seek Daily Values of 100 percent or higher—more isn’t always better. If you do decide to give your child a gummy, make sure she brushes her teeth afterward.
Because gummy vitamins are sticky and chewy, they’re more likely to attach to teeth and create cavities, much like sticky candy, like caramel.
Finally, make sure your kids understand that vitaminsaren’t sweets, and keep them out of reach of little children. There several reasons to avoid gummy vitamins. If your doctor advised your child to take something and they’re having trouble with other supplements, gummies could be a good option.
However, if you want to improve their health, adding a few gummy pills to their daily routine might not be such a good idea.