With their bright colors and fun shapes, gummy vitamins have taken the dietary supplement market by storm. Gummy vitamins are no longer just for children -- several manufacturers have introduced adult versions of vitamin supplements in the form of soft and chewy gummies for those who have difficulty swallowing pills.
The greatest concern with gummy vitamins for children is that they can be mistaken for candy. Like gummy candies, children's gummy vitamins are appealing to eat because they come in numerous colors and soft shapes -- from animals to cartoon characters -- and they taste like candy. This is worrisome because large amounts of vitamins A, C and D, as well as large amounts of iron, can be toxic, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Be sure to keep gummy vitamins out of your child's reach and give the child only the recommended dose. You should also tell your children that the vitamins are not candy and that eating too many can make them sick.
A University of Wisconsin Medical Center review of vitamins found that gummy vitamins are "nutritionally incomplete," meaning they don't contain a broad range of vitamins and minerals. Compare the "% Daily Value" columns on vitamin product labels to be sure the product you choose provides adequate amounts of nutrients to be beneficial to your health.
Some gummy vitamin products include gelatin, which comes from animal collagen, as a binder. If your family is vegetarian, or if your child cannot eat animal products for any other reason, you should check the label of the product you choose for evidence of gelatin. There are vegetarian gummy formulas available that use fruit pectin instead of gelatin.
Unlike most vitamins, gummy vitamins may require constant temperatures and refrigeration to prevent spoilage. Check the label of the product you choose for storage requirements. Having gummies in the fridge may make it harder to keep them out of your child's reach -- be aware of this when you choose a storage place.
Gummy vitamins will melt in high heat. In addition to affecting the portion size, high temperatures can cause vitamins B and C and other water-soluble vitamins to disintegrate.
Vitamins Shouldn't Replace a Balanced Diet
Vitamins and other dietary supplements are not a good substitute for a healthy, balanced diet. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that healthy children eating a well-balanced diet that includes 400 IU of vitamin D, do not need vitamin supplementation.
If you are concerned that you or your children are not getting adequate amounts of nutrients from your daily diet, check with your doctor or your child's pediatrician to determine what you need and how much to take.