Gummy Supplements: Big Business? Yes. Big Nutrition? Not So Much
Posted on Wednesday, March 7th, 2018
Once upon a time, gummy and other chewable vitamins were just kid stuff. Now, they’re very big business. As the New York Times reported last year,
Millions of people are hooked on gummies as a health supplement. Gummy multivitamins accounted for 7.5 percent of the $6 billion multivitamin market in the United States in 2016, according to estimates from the Nutrition Business Journal and projections from IBISWorld, a research company. And gummy products over all now account for $1 billion of the $41 billion supplement market in the United States, a more than 25 percent jump in sales since 2015, according to IBISWorld.
Mintel’s 2016 Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements Report underscored that supplement shoppers are looking to formats like gummies because they like taking vitamins and minerals in fun and easy delivery methods. The report noted that innovative delivery platforms such as gummies, and other confectionery methods, “provide an appreciated departure from consumers’ routine, allowing [the consumer] to have a more sensorial, enjoyable experience than with a tablet.”
Ah, yes. We’re all looking for “a more sensorial” experience with our vitamins.
But sure, gummies are easier to take than pills. They also taste good, as they should, considering how they’re typically made with sugar. While the total amount is low – a few grams per serving – if you’re taking several different gummy supplements or are grazing on them throughout the day (they’re “healthy,” after all), you could easily flirt with or surpass the maximum sugar intake for good dental health. That max is just 3% of your total daily calories from sugar. For the average adult, that works out to about 15.5 grams a day.
Thats the equivalent of less than half a can of Coca Cola or about 4 ounces of grape juice.
More, the nature of manufacturing these supplements typically means they pack less of a nutritional punch than conventional supplements. As Neutraceuticals World reported,
Director of product development for MegaFood (the Derry, NH-based brand from FoodState), Stacey Gillespie, discussed some of the difficulties with the gummy format. “Outside of the fact that there are a limited number of qualified and experienced manufacturers of gummy vitamins today, one of the biggest hurdles is the limited amount of active nutritional ingredients you can add to the gummy matrix, compared to the amount you can include in a tablet and/or capsule,” she said. “For example, to deliver 250 mg of vitamin C in a gummy, you would need three to four pieces to equal one serving, versus one tablet or capsule to deliver 250 mg vitamin C.”
Consider how many pieces you’d need to consume if you actually wanted to take a therapeutic dose of say 1000 mg or more.
That’s a whole lot of gummies.
This manufacturing issue may be one of the reasons why ConsumerLab.com has found
that some gummy supplements – particularly gummy multivitamins – do not contain their listed amounts of vitamins or minerals, or contain impurities. We continue to find more problems with candy-like vitamins like gummies than with traditional forms, such as tablets and caplets. Manufacturing challenges associated with candy-like products likely explain the higher incidence of problems.
Then there’s the fact that gummy candies more easily get stuck on and between the teeth, where oral pathogens can feast on their sugar content. As they say, what goes in must come out, and the end result of that feasting is quite acidic, contributing ultimately to tooth decay.
“Even if the gummies don’t have sugar,” dentist Jonathan Levine told HuffPo, ” what we call ‘biofilm’ is always naturally forming on your teeth, so if they don’t get cleaned properly, plaque is bound to develop.”
That said, there are instances in which gummy vitamins may be helpful, such as for people who have difficulty swallowing pills. For those who would not otherwise take supplements at all, they may be better than nothing.
That said, it’s important to keep in mind that most of your nutritional needs should be met as Nature intended: through a nicely varied whole food diet. Supplements are just that: supplements, not replacements. More, when you get your nutrients through whole food, you get the total nutritional package that helps your body to use them more effectively and efficiently.
With gummies? Not so much.