Medically reviewed by
Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
5 min read
Gummy vitamins are designed to be a tastier, more enjoyable experience than regular vitamins. The idea is that folks will be more inclined to take their vitamins if the vitamins taste like a delicious, gummy candy.
But are they as effective as traditional pill vitamins and supplements? Well, the results are mixed. Let’s start with the positives: Yes, taking gummy vitamins can offer some health benefits.
In general, boosting your intake of certain vitamins and minerals can be good for you. When acting in concert, these vitamins and minerals perform a variety of vital functions for your body – boosting your immune system, healing wounds, converting food into energy, repairing cells, fighting off harmful free radicals, promoting bone and heart health, and the list goes on. Taking your vitamins can also be a valuable strategy for making up for nutrient deficiencies in your diet.
Gummy vitamins do provide some of the nutrient content of regular vitamins and can therefore help promote some of the same health benefits. Plus, if you like how your vitamins taste, maybe you’ll be more likely to get into a routine. They can also be helpful for getting your kids to take their vitamins, since they resemble little candies.
With that said, gummy vitamins and regular vitamins are far from equivalent options. Regular vitamins offer superior health benefits, and gummy vitamins come with downsides of their own.
The first downside of taking gummy vitamins is simply this: Gummy vitamins have fewer nutrients than regular vitamins. This is partly due to the fact that gummy vitamins have a shorter shelf life than regular vitamins and their potency drops quite dramatically over time. So, whatever upside you’re getting from the sugary taste, you may actually be losing in actual nutritional content. If you happen to be in a position where getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals is an urgent matter – say, if you’re pregnant and you really need to get enough iron – gummy vitamins aren’t the way to go.
Next, let’s think about sugar. Gummy vitamins tend to be loaded with sugar content. Sugar content, as we all know, can sometimes bring negative consequences. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams of sugar per day for women and more more than 36 grams of sugar per day for men. Since gummy vitamins tend to come with 2 to 8 grams of sugar per serving, taking these sugary vitamins can set you on a course for surpassing your recommended totals. Then, of course, there’s the effect of sugar on your dental health: The sugar in gummy vitamins can contribute to the formation of cavities.
While it’s true that some gummy vitamins are produced with sugar substitutes, these substitutes can be just as distressing for your health. Artificial sweeteners have been linked to gastrointestinal issues and can even have a laxative effect. People who can’t tolerate artificial sweeteners should avoid gummy vitamins altogether.
Even when you get beyond the problems posed by sugar and artificial sweeteners, you run into the fact that gummy vitamins almost always use artificial colors, with the bright candy-like colors being part of their appeal. Studies have shown that artificial colors should be limited because of their potentially toxic effects.
For a number of reasons, gummy vitamins are not absorbed by your body as well as regular pills are. Gummy vitamins have a shorter shelf life than regular vitamins, provided the regular vitamins are stored correctly (away from direct sunlight and humidity). Due to this shorter shelf life, some forms of the gummy vitamins won’t remain active for as long. Furthermore, sometimes gummy vitamins won’t make it to the stomach and small intestines intact.
Parents should be careful when it comes to kids and gummy vitamins. Because these vitamins are made to be so tasty, there’s a higher risk for your kids to consume too many. One study found that it was easier for certain children to reach toxic levels of vitamin A from eating too many of a chewable multivitamin. If you’re really having trouble getting your children to take their vitamins, gummy vitamins can be a short-term solution, though caution is warranted.
If regular vitamin capsules aren’t your thing, you have alternatives other than gummy vitamins. You can open up your capsules and sprinkle the nutrients over foods, such as applesauce, or in beverages, like water or smoothies. You can even take a liquid or a powder supplement. All of these forms are easily absorbed and may be easier for you than having to swallow pills. They’re all also healthier than gummy vitamins.
Gummy vitamins can offer some health benefits, but those benefits are largely offset by the adverse effects of these sugary alternatives. Gummy vitamins have high sugar content and typically use artificial colors, which can be toxic for your health. The sugar content can be bad for your heart health and for your dental health. Gummy vitamins may be useful for getting kids to take their vitamins, but the sugary taste can lead kids to take too many – parents should exercise caution. If you want an alternative to taking vitamins in pill form, you may want to explore liquid or powder supplement options.