Thank goodness for multivitamins. These power packs of nutrients are perfect for people who can’t (or won’t) eat a balanced diet. Maybe you’re lactose intolerant and have trouble meeting the daily recommended intake of calcium. Or maybe you’re merely a picky eater (no shame!) who knows she needs more iron in her diet.
“Some people just like taking multivitamins as a safety net,” says Lauren Manaker, a registered dietitian and owner of Nutrition Now in Charleston, South Carolina.
But not everyone who wants to take their vitamin As, Bs and Cs can handle multis in their pill form. Manaker should know. She specializes in prenatal nutrition. The tablet form of some traditional prenatal vitamins can cause morning sickness-like nausea, she says. Her clients often ask if the gummy versions are a good option.
Let’s weigh the pros and cons of gummy vitamins versus pills:
Fact: It’s not just prenatal vitamins that can make you queasy. Some people get nauseous when they have to take any type of tablet. While they could try to dice up their multivitamins or hide them in their Greek yogurt, it’s way easier to simply take a gummy. Gummy vitamins are also great for people who experience pill fatigue or have trouble swallowing.
Gummy vitamins aren’t just easier to take down. They also taste good. And for some people, even those who don’t have trouble taking pills, this alone makes them the preferred option.
“Some people find they’re more compliant with taking multivitamins on a regular basis when taking them feels like a treat,” Manaker says.
But you have to read the label on those “treats,” Manaker stresses. The serving size is often more than one gummy; sometimes you have to take as many as six to get the listed amount of nutrients.
“People need to read their labels,” she says. And not just to check the serving size. Some multivitamins, whether they’re a gummy or pill, say they include a nutrient. But when you read the fine print, it’s only 30 or 40 percent of the recommended amount.
One final thing to check on the label? The amount of iron included.
While gummy and pill multivitamins are often the same nutrient and absorption-wise, depending on the brand and source of the nutrient, most gummies usually don’t contain iron. That’s because they’re too tasty and the risk of an accidental iron overdose is too high, Manaker explains.
Too much iron could cause kidney and/or liver damage. In kids, it could also be fatal. (We’ll talk more about gummy vitamin safety in a minute.)
Gummy vitamins taste good. And it’s often ingredients like sugar and corn syrup that make your gummy so yummy, Manaker says.
Gummy vitamins may also contain additives like artificial coloring and flavorings and animal by-products, like gelatin, she adds.
“You always want to check the label to make sure you’re getting what you need and nothing more,” Manaker says.
In addition to iron toxicity, a gummy vitamin binge could also lead to an overdose in zinc, which could cause nausea, diarrhea and even kidney issues, Manaker says. Consuming too much preformed vitamin A while pregnant can also cause congenital disabilities.
“It’s important to keep in mind that gummies aren’t snacks,” she warns. ”You never want to exceed the recommended amount of any supplement unless a health care provider says otherwise.”
Households with kids need to be extra vigilant.
So Which Is Better, Gummy Vitamins or Pills?
When working with clients, Manaker says there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, it’s all about what works for the individual. Is the client OK with taking multiple gummy vitamins versus a single tablet? Is she trying to reduce her sugar consumption? What micronutrients does she feel are missing from her diet?
“I think it’s great there are so many options out there,” Manaker says. “This gives people the power to find the supplements that match their needs.”