Wait, are Gummy Vitamins a Good or Bad Idea?

orange gummy vitamins

It can be a challenge to make sure you’re getting all of the vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy. Especially if you might not love veggies or tend to eat more fast food than you want to admit. When you’re trying to boost your immune system, vitamins and supplements can help you top off your diet and ward off deficiencies.

If you’re one of those people whose stomach is bothered by traditional vitamins, you might feel inclined to go with a chewable version. Gummy vitamins are a classic example, and usually fairly yummy to boot!

What Are Gummy Vitamins?  

Gummy vitamins are a far more palatable version of other popular vitamins and supplements you find at the drug store. They come in a variety of shapes and flavors, depending on the type of vitamin you’re taking. Some are sweet, others are more tart. Since they taste good, they’re more attractive to take on a daily basis. You might even find that getting your kids to eat gummy vitamins is easier than other chewable options, especially if they don’t know how to swallow a pill.

Do Gummy Vitamins Work As Good As Traditional Vitamins?

In order for a vitamin to “work”, you need to be able to make sure your body is able to digest and absorb the ingredients. Unfortunately, some doctors say that gummy vitamins “have fewer vitamins and minerals than regular vitamins” do.[1]

So no, gummy vitamins probably don’t work as well as other options out there. Even the label on the package may not quite be exactly what’s inside of each dose you’re taking, because it’s more difficult to manage and measure what’s going into a gummy.[2]

Pros Of Using Gummy Vitamins

Sure, gummy vitamins aren’t perfect. But they do have some advantages that make them an obvious choice for a lot of people.

1) Easy To Take/No Swallowing

Look, if you can’t swallow pills—and there’s nothing wrong with that—other vitamins may be completely out of the question. Gummies may be your only option. Especially if you have large tonsils, a sensitive gag reflex, or difficulty swallowing in general. All you have to do is chew them up like the rest of your food and then swallow the soft texture. There’s not much to it.

2) They Taste Good  

Yes, gummies almost taste like candy. Their appetizing flavor makes them attractive for adults and kids alike. If you hate the after-taste of other types of vitamins, gummy vitamin options don’t tend to leave a bitter taste in your mouth. Gummies have to taste good because they’re chewable. Many of them will use natural flavorings to complement the sweet taste to give you all the more reason to take one every day.

3) Easy With Kids

Does your pediatrician want your child to take a vitamin each day? If your child is a picky eater or having a hard time getting the right nutrients they need, a daily multivitamin is essential. While there are plenty of chewable options on the market, some flavors or textures can be off-putting to kids. Gummy vitamins almost seem identical to the fruit chews or other candies your kids might like. As such, it’s usually easier to get them to take a gummy vitamin than it is another version of over-the-counter supplements.

Downsides To Using Gummy Vitamins

1) Sugar And Acid

To make them as tasty as possible (because chewing straight vitamins or minerals would be disgusting) a lot of gummy vitamins contain artificial sweeteners or sugar as well as citric acid. All of these ingredients can be harsh on your teeth as well as your GI tract.[3] If you’re sensitive to artificial sweeteners, you might notice an upset stomach even if you take the vitamin with food. Some dentists say that taking gummy vitamins is basically like eating candy.

2) Dyes 

In order to make them look more appetizing, a lot of (almost all) gummy vitamins do have artificial food colorings and dyes. This can be a major deal-breaker for people with dye sensitivity.

3) Sticky Texture

Anything that’s sticky will stay stuck on your teeth for longer amounts of time. In other words, it’s going to weaken your enamel worse than something that’s not sticky. Especially when you eat it on a daily basis. All the grooves and pits on your molars (back teeth) will tend to accumulate sticky buildup and are hard to clean with a toothbrush.

4) Less Effective 

Experts typically believe that gummy vitamins just aren’t as consistent with dosage or effectiveness compared to traditional vitamins. But at least they’re better than nothing? Maybe, maybe not. You’ll probably get a more fixed, predictable dose by swallowing a solid vitamin whole with a glass of water than you do eating gummy vitamins.

5) Shorter Shelf Life

The shelf life of gummy vitamins is not as stable as other types of pills and capsules. This can cause gummies and similar substances to become weaker (less potent) in less time. So, if you’re not taking them right away or only every now and then, they become less and less effective the closer they get to their expiration date.

Sugar-Free Means I’m Good, Right?

Let’s say you find a totally organic, dye-free, sugar-free, natural gummy vitamin to take every day. Does that mean it’s ok on your mouth?

Even if it’s sugar-free, it probably still has citric acid and some type of artificial sweetener. Most gummies have citric acid because it helps with flavoring and overall taste. Unfortunately, acids alter the pH inside of your mouth, which can then lead to weaker teeth and acid erosion. If you’re already prone to weak, sensitive teeth or have demineralization in areas of your mouth, eating gummy vitamins every day can jeopardize your dental health.[4] Sugar-free or not.

Even if there are not the same types of sugar as plain ‘ol white sugar, the other sweeteners inside of gummy vitamins can breed bacteria. Sweeteners feed dental plaque, which then produces more dental plaque. Especially if they’re stuck in deep grooves on your back teeth. It’s like a classic recipe for cavities, all while you’re trying to just do your best to stay healthy. The trade-off may not be worth the risk.

Braces Stay Clear And Cleaner

Any time you eat gummy vitamins, you are also raising your risk of tooth stain. Similar to dark liquids or other dark-colored foods. For people in braces, the stains can accumulate around cement, clear bands, and under the wires.

Plus, the sticky texture of gummy vitamins is more likely to get caught around orthodontic appliances (instead of swallowed) which can further jeopardize your oral health, given the contact time the sugars and acids have on your teeth. Chances are that you won’t even ingest as much of the vitamin as you’re hoping to, because so much of it is stuck around your braces.

Higher Risk Of Vitamin Overdose

Vitamin gummies look—and sometimes taste—like candy. Heaven forbid that a child gets a hold of a container of gummy vitamins and eats multiple gummies or the entire jar all at one time. A toxic vitamin overdose requires an emergency action plan. Always keep all vitamins and supplements, especially gummies, out of the reach of small children. Never take more than the directed dose/serving size. If accidentally ingested in high quantities, immediately call poison control. They will tell you what to do and whether or not you need to go to the emergency room.[5]

Make sure that your child knows vitamins are only “one a day” or that they will get a very bad tummy ache, to put it mildly.

Should You Take Gummy Vitamins?

Choosing to take a gummy vitamin may seem like an easy and convenient decision to make. But it’s best to truly weigh the pros and cons of gummies before choosing either way.

If you absolutely hate swallowing pills and the only type of vitamin you’re open to taking is a gummy one, then the supplement can help if you’re already deficient in some vitamins or minerals. But the sticky texture and cavity risk aren’t worth it if you’re already prone to a high risk of tooth decay.

Not everyone needs to take vitamins and supplements. Especially if you’re already eating a lot of fresh vegetables and have a healthy protein intake. If you’re simply taking a gummy vitamin for the heck of it, the tradeoff might be a bigger risk to your mouth than it is a benefit to your body. When in doubt, ask your medical provider if you need to be taking supplements at all.