The market for dietary supplements has seen a drastic increase in the last few decades. With that heightened consumer interest came vitamin-based supplements in all shapes and sizes. One particular product that has proliferated into a wide variety of available merchandise is gummy vitamins.
Although available to both kids and adults, these gummies are typically targeted at children with fruity flavorings, cartoon or licensed characters and other ploys to promote the product’s success. What’s more, the packaging often includes suggestive promptings for parents to give them to their children despite the fact that professional medical organizations do not recommend vitamin use in healthy children under most circumstances.
While parents may find it easy to give one to a child who’s a picky eater, these candy-like supplements may be doing more harm than good. Below are few reasons why gummy vitamins may be considered harmful to a child’s health.
First, there are potential negative effects on oral health. Whether it’s a gummy vitamin, multivitamin or other chewable supplement, these products aimed at children typically contain sugar or a type of sweetener to improve the taste. When compared to traditional multivitamins, this variety often has significantly more sugar and calories. In fact, independent laboratory testing found the average gummy vitamins contain 2 grams of sugar each.
Consuming this sugar provides sustenance for the bacteria residing in our mouths responsible for damaging tooth enamel. If consumed in excess, the risk for tooth decay, cavities and other dental issues increases. In permanent teeth, this damage is irreparable and could lead to fillings, extractions, root canal work and other life-long problems for children. Opting for sugar-free gummy products can also be detrimental to dental health, as they usually rely on citric acid to boost the flavor. Food acids like this can cause dental erosion, potentially leading to the same life-long dental problems.
A second harmful effect of gummy vitamins is that the appealing taste and release of endorphins and dopamine from the added sugars may cause children to consume more than they should. When a child regularly or excessively overconsumes these gummies, which often seem like normal candies, it could result in health complications. One such complication is vitamin toxicity. A form of overdose, this could lead to sleep disruptions, digestive issues, hair loss and even nerve damage.
Lastly, as these products are not regulated as drugs by the FDA, they may not contain the components they claim to, or there could be impurities or inaccurate amounts. There’s also very little evidence to support their use in terms of nutrition. Ultimately, these supplements cannot compare to the benefits of eating a well-balanced and healthy diet. It’s important for parents who wish to give their child gummies to first consult a pediatrician.
For more information on gummy vitamins and additional tips for parents, please see the accompanying resource.