In theory, gummy vitamins seem like a win-win: They taste like candy, but they are full of essential nutrients your body needs to stay active, healthy, and happy. They’ve recently grown in popularity, as many brands have developed fun flavors and varieties for children and adults alike. They are beloved by people who struggle to swallow pills or who don’t enjoy traditional supplements’ bitter and metallic tastes. As celebrity chef and certified nutritionist Serena Poon explains, these chewy nibbles usually contain a mixture of vitamins and minerals, as well as sugar, gelatin, and food dye. Because of this, they could be recommended by your doctor—but the chances are slim that your physician will tell you to eat ten of them a day. Thanks to their easy-to-eat form, too many people go overboard, causing some dangerous side effects when eating too many gummy vitamins.
Here, Poon discusses what happens when you eat too many gummy vitamins at once. And for more healthy tips, here’s The One Vitamin Doctors Are Urging Everyone to Take Right Now.
Poon says the main concern with taking too many gummy vitamins is that vitamins can be toxic if you consume more than the recommended value. She says fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K, and iron, drive the most concern for overdose. And, some water-soluble vitamins can cause health problems in excessive doses, such as niacin, folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. Here are the Dangerous Side Effects of Taking Too Much Vitamin C.
A not-so-fun fact you may not know: water-soluble vitamins like the ones above will be eliminated through your urine if your body doesn’t need them. This is why your urine might turn bright yellow after you take a supplement. Though this isn’t potentially harmful, it is a waste of money since your system seems to be getting everything it needs through your diet.
“Especially if you are eating a diet full of vegetables, fruits, and wholesome ingredients,” says Poon. “I recommend checking your vitamin levels with a doctor and working with them to find the supplements that will support your unique constitution.”
The reason most people enjoy gummy vitamins is that they’re sweet! And to give them that flavor, sugar has to be added. In fact, Poon says the average single gummy has a whopping two grams of sugar. Considering the daily recommended sugar intake for women is 24 grams and 38 grams for men, if you have pop six gummies as a snack, it adds up.
Because of their ingredients and texture, Poon says gummy vitamins are difficult to manufacture consistently. In fact, she says one study by Consumer Lab found that gummy supplements—specifically multivitamins—did not contain the number of vitamins listed.
“They also note that it is common for vitamins to degrade in the gummies over time, leaving some brands to overcompensate or for them to contain less than stated,” says Poon.
Because of this, if you have a proper nutrient deficiency, Poon recommends taking a traditional pill or supplement, like a multivitamin.
Unfortunately, gummy vitamins can contain ingredients known to irritate your digestive system. For instance, Poon says consuming too much Vitamin C—generally considered over 2,000 milligrams—can cause cramps, nausea, and diarrhea.
Plus, gummies have a high percentage of sugar alcohol, which decreases the amount of added sugar without sacrificing the taste.
“Sugar alcohols are notorious for their digest disrupting properties, sometimes causing gas, diarrhea, and even irritable bowel syndrome,” she says. “Aside from wanting to avoid discomfort, your digestive health is central to the health of all of your other systems, so it is crucial to keep your gut healthy and in balance.”
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