Gummy vitamins – Good or gimmick?

Well, they are good. Tasty, that is. Have you tried them? They literally are vitamin fortified candy and are delicious. Kids and adults both love them. They are a phenomenon and come in many variations.

MomDocs - VitaminsUnfortunately, what’s popular is not always what’s best. If you compare a gummy vitamin to a more traditional children’s chewable you will quickly learn that the vitamin content is much less in the gummy form. The content is both lower in the number of different vitamins included and less in the amount of most vitamins. There are variations between types, but the gummy delivery system limits what and how much can be included. Additionally, there are only a select few that include much, if any iron. Iron is an important mineral for children and is one of the few vitamins in which many children are actually deficient.

So, what to do?

1) Does your child really need a vitamin supplement at all? If you have an extremely picky eater or don’t have the resources to provide a wide variety of foods from all food groups including fruits, veggies, and beans over a 1-2 week period your child might benefit from a multi-vitamin supplement.  See also Dr. Berchelmann’s post on “Vitamin Wars”.

2) Compare ingredients between a chewable tablet and the gummy forms available in your local store. Chewable tablets are likely to be more “complete” then the gummy options.

3) More is not better. Do not give more then the recommended dose for your child’s age. Also, super vitamins with much more the recommended 100% daily value can cause more harm then good including kidney stones and other health problems.

4) Treat all vitamins like medicine. They should have childproof caps and be locked away. Overdoses can be harmful especially with things like iron. Gummy vitamins, which are so close to candy, are easily consumed in large amounts if the opportunity presents itself to your child.

5) Most all children’s vitamins contain sugar in one form or another and should be given with a meal and teeth should be brushed afterward.

Remember the best way to get good nutrition is to eat a healthy diet of unprocessed foods including lean meats, fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts and beans. Bottled vitamins are a supplement to that and not a replacement. Children learn from their caregivers. If you eat a healthy nutritious diet and that is what your child is offered consistently, eventually they will as well.

Kirstin Lee, M.D. About Kirstin Lee, M.D.

Kirstin Abel Lee, M.D. is a pediatrician at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and an Instructor of Pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine. She received her undergraduate education at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the Washington University School of Medicine. Kirstin completed her residency at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. She is board certified in Pediatrics and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Her interests include healthy living for children and families, emergency preparedness, and medical ethics. She is the mother of one boy age 2 years and enjoys cooking, running, and time with friends and family.

Connect with Dr. Kirstin Lee on Facebook: ChildrensMomDocs and.

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