Gummy Vitamins Taste Good, But Are They Worth Taking Over Pills?

The shelves of even our most trusted health food stores are lined with them – colorful packages of fruit-flavored gummy vitamins marketed as a tasty way to nourish your body. They seem harmless and even fun – an exciting, almost childlike way to take the drudgery out of your daily vitamin routine. But the question is: Do they work, or are they just a sugarcoated gimmick?

By Renée Walton3 min read
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Svitlana Ozirna/Shutterstock

The short answer: Yes, gummy vitamins do “work.” They provide the body with some necessary vitamins in a concentrated form. But, as always, the long answer is where things can get sticky. While gummies can be a tasty and convenient way to take your vitamins, they’re not optimal in terms of nutrient load or shelf life. Furthermore, the added ingredients could actually do more harm than good. 

Sugar Rush 

In order to make gummy vitamins more palatable, manufacturers add flavoring, sweeteners, and sugar to their formulas. So while your body does receive some nutrients from the vitamin, you’re also consuming ingredients that could be harmful to your health. 

A typical gummy vitamin dosage contains anywhere from two to eight grams of sugar. To put that number into perspective, the American Heart Association recommends that adult women consume no more than 24 grams of sugar per day. Suddenly consuming up to one-third of your daily portion of sugar just while taking your vitamin seems excessive, especially when you consider the harmful effects that sugar has on our bodies as women, including hormonal imbalances, inflammation, and weight gain. 

Consuming up to one-third of your daily portion of sugar just while taking your vitamin seems excessive.

Some gummy vitamins boast about being “sugar-free,” but beware – they likely contain artificial sweeteners, which have been linked to gut microbiome issues, hormone imbalances, and even infertility. Maybe you’ve found a gummy vitamin that doesn’t include sugar or artificial sweeteners. Before you do your victory dance, check the ingredients for citric acid. This is a common sweetener alternative that may seem less harmful, but can actually wreak havoc on your oral health by wearing down the enamel of your teeth. (And side note: The sticky nature of gummies means they can easily get stuck in your teeth, which could lead to cavities.)  

Shorter Shelf Life

The processing required for gummy vitamins is also important to delve into. In order to activate the gelatin used in gummy vitamins, the formula has to undergo high levels of heat. This can degrade the vitamin and cause it to lose its nutrient content more quickly. So even if the vitamin bottle says each dose contains a specific amount of a nutrient, it could actually be considerably less when you factor in this degradation. In fact, studies from Independent Consumer Lab found that gummy vitamins often don’t contain all the nutrients they claim on their label. 

Another drawback of the formulation process of gummies? It’s difficult to add minerals like iron and magnesium to the formula due to their taste and composition. As a result, many gummy vitamin lines don’t contain minerals, and the ones that do have only small amounts so as to not affect the taste and texture too much. Sufficient mineral intake – of magnesium, in particular – is vital for our health as women in regard to hormone balance. So unless you take mineral supplements in addition to your gummy multivitamins, you could be missing out on key nutrients. 

A Hard Pill To Swallow

One of the benefits of gummy vitamins is that they’re easier to take, especially for those who have a hard time taking pills. If the very thought of swallowing a pill makes you want to gag, it might be time to unpack that. A lot of the difficulty associated with taking pills has to do with anxiety. Have you ever noticed a lump in your throat when you're anxious? That’s called the globus sensation, and it’s commonly associated with feelings of fear or dread – such as the dread of swallowing a pill. It’s a vicious cycle – the more you psych yourself out about swallowing pills, the more anxiety it causes, which makes the muscles in the throat tense up even more. 

A lot of the difficulty associated with taking pills has to do with anxiety.

So how can you stop this cycle? A lot of it is mind over matter. Remind yourself that it’s just a pill and you’ve likely swallowed bigger pieces of food before with no problem. If it’s still a roadblock, you can try a different strategy, like cutting the pill in half if it’s a tablet or swallowing it with applesauce or a smoothie. 

If you’re still not feeling comfortable with pill form vitamins, liquid vitamins might be a good alternative. Some popular lines include Athletic Greens, a whole food powder vitamin that you scoop into liquids, and Mary Ruth Organics Morning Liquid Multivitamin. Both are a super convenient way to pack in nutrients without having to choke down a pill.  

Closing Thoughts 

When it comes to taking your vitamins, your best bet is to ditch the candy-like gummy variety. It can be tempting to combine your daily nutrient kick with a sweet and tasty treat, but resist the urge. Have your vitamins in non-gummy form and have your sweet little something separately (if you want!). There’s no need to combine the two at the cost of your vitamin’s  efficacy. You'll get more nutrients taking your vitamins in a different form, and you’ll enjoy your sweet treat even more. 

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