Gummy vitamins vs regular vitamins – which one is more effective for your hair, skin and nails? They look like candy, taste like candy so it would seem like a win-win situation. You enjoy a treat and nourish yourself with healthy vitamins at the same time. However, this is not the case. The reason they taste like candy is because they are full of sugar or artificial sweeteners. The World Health Organization recommends that many health benefits could be gained by both children and adults by reducing their daily ingestion of free sugars to an amount that makes up 5% of their total energy (calorie) intake, which equates to roughly 6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day. The average American consumes around 22 teaspoons (~ 92 grams) of sugar per day. Now consider that the average gummy vitamin contains about 3-5 grams of sugar. That is up to 20% of the daily healthy sugar allotment recommended by the WHO (that the average American has already exceeded) used up simply because you opted for a gummy bear vitamin over a regular pill form vitamin!
You might argue that you are receiving other nutritional benefits from taking the vitamin and the good outweigh the bad. However, those benefits may not be as great as you may think. All of the various ingredients that are required to make the vitamin “gummy” (eg. sugar, food colors, gelatin, corn starch) essentially limit the number and amount of vitamins and minerals that can be added to it. This means you may have to take more than one to receive the same number of supplements offered by a single pill form variety. And by doing so you increase your sugar intake yet again. To add to the problem, vitamins in gummies are less stable than in pill form resulting in a loss of potency and a shorter shelf life. To accommodate for this problem, manufacturers tend to overload them to help prolong shelf life. This means you can never be really sure on the dosage you are receiving – it could be more if you have purchased a fresh batch, or less if the bottle has been sitting on the store shelf for a while. And since the FDA sees vitamin supplements as foods rather than as drugs, regulation is less strict.
Speaking of manufacturers, they pay close attention to the taste and texture of their vitamin, striving to make it as pleasing as possible. But the fact of the matter is some essential vitamins and minerals have unpleasant tastes that are difficult to “hide” in the supplement. These include iron, zinc, B-vitamins and herbs. Even the manufacturer themselves admit that not all active ingredients are suitable for gummy vitamins.
What about those “sugar-free” gummy bear vitamins? These use sugar alcohols in place of sugar. Sorbitol, Xylitol, Erythritol and Maltitol are names of sugar alcohols you may find on labels. But what are they exactly? Sugar alcohols are carbohydrates and are about 35–97% as sweet as sugar. They are lower in calories than sugar and do not have the same negative effects as regular sugar, such as significantly raising blood sugar levels. However, there are some negative side effects that can be associated with them if consumed in excess. The most common of these are bloating and diarrhea. Artificial flavourings can also be added to this list of ingredients commonly found in gummy vitamins that may have a detrimental effect on intestinal health.
And do you remember all those times your mom told you that all that sugar would “rot your teeth”? Well, she was right. Sugars are the main dietary factor that leads to the development of tooth decay and cavities. The reason behind this is that the bacteria in your mouth metabolize sugars to produce an acid that attacks and breaks down the hard tissues of the teeth (enamel and dentine). This is another reason why the WHO made their recommendation on the maximum daily amount of sugar ingestion mentioned above. In addition, other additives that may be found in gummy vitamins, such as citric acid, can have the same detrimental effect on tooth enamel. And of course, because they are gummies, they tend to stick to your teeth, exacerbating the problem while doing nothing for your smile.
Take Away Message
Gummy vitamins may seem like a tasty and convenient way to supplement your diet with the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs, but taste and convenience do not equate to health. Gummy vitamins contain an abundance of sugar that is bad for your general and dental health. The amount of the active ingredients in each gummy will be variable depending upon factors such as shelf life, so you can never be quite sure of the dose you are receiving and you may need to take more than one variety to get all the ingredients contained within a single pill form multivitamin. Regular pill form vitamins can contain many more active ingredients including those whose taste is difficult to hide in gummy versions and thus might be absent. Sugar-free forms of gummy vitamins are available that help mitigate the effect of sugars, but these other issues relating to dosage, taste masking issues and the overall number of active ingredients persist. So, to answer the question: Gummy vitamins versus regular vitamins – which one is more effective? Regular vitamins win.