Yes, many gummy vitamins are bad for you. They are often made with sucrose, gelatin, high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors—ingredients that offset any real nutritional value from the vitamin.
Many of us have fond childhood memories of gummy vitamins. They tasted just like candy, and the texture made them fun to eat. And now, it seems like gummy vitamins are making a comeback—for grownups. Instagram celebrities like Kylie Jenner regularly post pictures popping the supplements, and claim it’s their secret to long, luscious hair and strong fingernails.
So do gummy vitamins really work? Or, for that matter, did they ever work?
First of all, gummy vitamins aren’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that they may contain less nutrients than normal vitamins, which do undergo FDA screening. A recent vitamin review by the University of Wisconsin Medical Center discovered that gummy vitamins indeed lack the broad range of vitamins and minerals printed on their labels. For this reason alone, you would be better off taking ordinary chewable vitamins than opting for the gummy variety.
However, if you have issues with taste and texture, you may still be drawn to these sweet, candy-like vitamins. Unfortunately, their delicious taste is what makes them bad for you... gummy vitamins are often formulated with unhealthy ingredients. Sweeteners like sugar and high fructose corn syrup are bad for your teeth; they can cause plaque and eventually lead to cavities. They’re also not great for your waistline. Regular consumption of refined sugar can lead to obesity, which comes with a slew of health problems including hypertension and type 2 diabetes.Worse yet, some gummy vitamins are formulated with harmful food coloring: Red 40 and Yellow 6, which contain known carcinogens and have been shown to cause hyperactivity in children.
In addition to lacking nutritional value, gummy vitamins can also be downright dangerous if you take too many. And over-consumption is a serious risk—especially if you have small children around. With their bright colors and fun shapes, a child may easily mistake gummy vitamins for real candy and consume way more than the recommended amount. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that large amounts of iron along with vitamins A, C, and D can be toxic in large amounts.
So how can you avoid unhealthy gummy vitamins or other supplement products? Always check the label and compare the "% Daily Value” amounts between products. Make sure the one you choose contains the desired amount of the vitamins and minerals your body needs. If you’re not sure what those are, consult your physician. Next, look at the label. Don’t purchase any vitamins that are laden with sugar and/or artificial flavors and colors. Finally, you should only take the dosage recommended on the label or by your physician. And if you have children, store the vitamins in a safe place out of their reach.
Possible short-term side effects
- vitamin toxicity (with overconsumption)
Possible long-term side effects
- cavities/tooth decay
- weight gain
- other effects depending on the ingredients
Ingredients to be aware of
- high fructose corn syrup
- artificial colors (red 40 and yellow 6)
- artificial flavors
- source of various vitamins