Gummy vitamins come in cute shapes and, well, taste like candy. Still, they supposedly offer complete nutritional insurance by providing all the essential vitamins and minerals you need. Sounds a little too good to be true, doesn’t it? That’s why we’re going to weigh in on the question do gummy vitamins work?
There’s no question that, for most people, a multivitamin is a cornerstone supplement to help fill nutritional gaps and support optimal health, wellness, and good nutrition. The tricky thing is that not all multivitamins are created equal. And that’s why we’ve put together a checklist of the 5 key things to look for when choosing a multivitamin.
So, how do the ever-popular gummy vitamins stack up? Do gummy vitamins work to fill nutritional gaps? Do gummy vitamins work to promote optimal health, wellness, and nutrition? OR, are gummy vitamins worthless? Or worse, can gummy vitamins do more harm than good?
Do Gummy Vitamins Work? Some things to consider…
Most Gummy Vitamins Are Missing “Key Players”
One of the most important criteria of an effective multivitamin is that it should provide you comprehensive micronutrient coverage to ensure you have all your nutritional bases (in terms of vitamins and minerals) covered. Unfortunately, most gummy vitamins are incomplete.
You see, most popular gummy vitamins (usually to preserve taste) provide fewer than HALF of the essential vitamins and minerals—those we need to get through food and/or supplements—and they’re missing some KEY players (like magnesium, calcium, potassium, vitamin K, and multiple B vitamins). While it’s true that a multivitamin doesn’t need to contain every micronutrient (sodium and iron are a couple that come to mind), the rest are non-negotiable.
You wouldn’t (or at least you shouldn’t) invest in a cut-rate insurance policy that doesn’t cover all your necessities. Why would you settle for a cut-rate gummy multivitamin? Simply put, gummy vitamins don’t work if they’re not filling key nutritional gaps.
Who’s there? When it comes to gummy vitamins, not always what you’d expect. Tests by ConsumberLab.com, a leading provider of independent test results and information to help consumers and healthcare professionals identify the best quality health and nutrition products, have revealed that a shocking number of gummy vitamins do not contain the listed amounts of vitamins and minerals.
In other words, what’s on the label is not even in the bottle! Now, this problem with potency and/or stability is not relegated to gummy vitamins. It’s true with many traditional multivitamin supplements as well. It just seems to be far more prevalent with gummies. In fact, Consumer Labs found that 80% of the gummy vitamin supplements that were tested failed.
For gummy vitamins to work (or any supplement for that matter), the nutrients you’re expecting have to be there. And they have to be there in the amounts you expect.
A Little TOO Convenient
The major allure of gummy vitamins is that they’re convenient. They’re easier than swallowing a pill. And let’s face, most are pretty darn tasty. Unfortunately, convenience can be a double-edged sword. As with anything that tastes good, overconsumption is a possibility. And that’s not just an issue for children.
Plus, most people think if some is good, more is better. And that mindset tends to really rear its head when someone gets a case of the sniffles. Either way, toxicity is a concern for certain vitamins (such as vitamin A and folic acid) and minerals (like iron, although it’s not usually found in gummies).
Cheap (& Potentially Dangerous) Forms of Vitamins
Another chink in the armor for gummies—and a big factor in the do the gummy vitamins work equation—is they frequently contain cheap, inferior forms of vitamins and minerals. The B vitamins, which are essential for producing energy (from the food you eat), feelings of wellbeing, cognitive health and function, and cardiovascular health, are a perfect example.
An ideal multivitamin provides “bioactive” forms of B vitamins—methylfolate and methylcobalamin, for example—which are optimally absorbed and used by the body compared to their synthetic counterparts. For instance, most gummies contain folic acid (instead of methylfolate) and cyanocobalamin (instead of methylcobalamin).
Unfortunately, many people lack the enzymatic capacity to do so. In fact, up to 60% of people don’t have the capacity to convert inactive folic acid into its active form (L-Methylfolate). Not only do the vitamins go unused, this can impair the body’s ability to detoxify, leading to the accumulation of potentially toxic compounds (e.g., homocysteine) that can negatively impact brain health and function, cardiovascular health, mood, and more.
What’s more, unmetabolized folic acid can have negative health consequences for pretty much everyone, regardless of genetics. This is not just a case of gummy vitamins not working, it’s also a concern that they could potentially be harmful.
Listen, I’ll be the first to admit that critics of gummy vitamins can be a little too outspoken about the additives—particularly the added sugar—tagging along for the ride in these supplements. I’m obviously not a gummy vitamin apologist, but I’m hard-pressed to believe that the little bit of sugar (less than a teaspoon) in most gummy vitamins is a probable suspect contributing to increasing rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes. After all, it’s estimated that the average American adult consumes about 20 teaspoons of sugar each day.
Gummy vitamins are probably not the problem when it comes to Americans consuming “too much sugar.” Having said that, they don’t help matters, they don’t make things better, and they’re certainly not necessary considering there are better options (that DO work).
Now, when it comes to kids, the added sugar is definitely a concern worth pointing out, especially considering that some brands of children’s gummies contain as much as 20% of the daily limit proposed by the American Heart Association. Even though gummy vitamins are a far cry from a can of soda, we may be sending the wrong message in general with gummy vitamins in the first place (i.e., everything should be masked with sugar).
So, Do Gummy Vitamins Work?
When it comes to providing you the top-rate micronutrient insurance you need to fill nutritional gaps and promote optimal health, wellness, and nutrition, gummy vitamins don’t work. They don’t cover all the necessary micronutrient bases, they don’t provide what they say they do, and they provide cheap (potentially harmful) ingredients. Better said, not only can gummy vitamins be considered worthless, they could potentially work against you.