Gummy vitamins have become incredibly popular in recent years. And for good reason–they are tasty, convenient, easy to chew, and come in various flavors and shapes, which can make them appealing to adults and children alike.
But all gummy vitamins are not created equal, particularly when it comes to ingredients that have certain dietary, health, or ethical considerations. Before you pop another gummy supplement into your mouth, let’s peel back the wrapper on six common gummy vitamin ingredients you may want to avoid.
Many gummy vitamins contain added sugars to improve their taste and give the exterior a gum-drop-like exterior. These added sugars are often listed under various names, including glucose syrup, tapioca syrup, cane syrup, and corn syrup, to make it less obvious to consumers.
Most gummy vitamins contain between 2-8 grams of sugar per serving. This may not sound like a lot, but it can add up, particularly if you take multiple gummy vitamins each day or regularly consume other foods and drinks with added sugar.
Excessive sugar consumption can lead to various health issues, including weight gain, dental problems, and an increased risk of chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. As such, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams of added sugar for women and 36 grams for men daily [ 1
If you’re trying to limit your intake of added sugar, gummy vitamins sweetened with naturally-derived sugar alcohols, like erythritol and maltitol, can be a sweet and sugar-free alternative. However, if you experience digestive upset with sugar alcohols, pill vitamins may be your best bet as they typically contain no added sugars or sugar alcohols.
Artificial colors and flavors are commonly used to make gummy vitamins more visually appealing and taste better. However, the safety of synthetic colors and flavors continues to be a topic of ongoing debate and scientific studies.
While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ensures that all food additives on the market are safe for use, companies are not obligated to disclose them on food labels [ 2
2]. Given this, certainty about their safety remains challenging.
Food, Drug, & Cosmetic (FD&C) dyes like Red 40, Yellow 5 (Tartrazine), and Blue 1 have been the subject of numerous studies due to their potential safety concerns. For example, Tartrazine has been linked to allergic reactions from hives and itching to more severe reactions like asthma attacks [ 3 4
3]. Other studies have found a relationship between food dye exposure and adverse behavioral outcomes in children [
Similar to artificial flavorings, the amount of dye used in gummy vitamins is considered proprietary and therefore is not disclosed on vitamin labels. If you’re concerned about potential allergic reactions, sensitivities, or their long-term effects on your health, look for gummy vitamins that are flavored and colored with natural, plant-based ingredients.
If you’re vegan or vegetarian, gelatin is another gummy vitamin ingredient you’ll want to have on your radar. Gelatin is a thickening and emulsifying agent that gives many gummy vitamins their chewy texture. It is made from animal collagen
collagen, so if you prefer to avoid animal-derived products for dietary, ethical, or religious reasons, you may want to avoid gelatin in gummy vitamins.
Many vegan gummy vitamins use pectin, a plant-based gelatin alternative typically derived from plants, including apples and oranges. Just be sure to read ingredient lists fully, as some brands use a combination of both gelatin and pectin in their formulations.
Carmine is a common colorant used to give gummy vitamins a reddish color. While it is considered a natural coloring agent, carmine is derived from dried insects. So if you are vegan, vegetarian, or prefer to avoid animal-derived products for ethical or religious reasons, you’ll want to avoid carmine in gummy vitamins as well.
Beeswax is also used in gummy vitamins as a natural coating agent to prevent sticking and enhance texture. While allergic reactions are rare, individuals with bee-related allergies and strict vegans may prefer to avoid gummy vitamins containing beeswax.
Some gummy vitamins may contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) derived from crops like corn or soy. If you prefer to avoid GMOs for environmental, ethical, or health reasons, you might want to choose a gummy vitamin that has been third-party tested and is certified GMO-free.
Gummy vitamins can be a tasty alternative to traditional vitamin and supplement pills, but certain ingredients may give cause for caution, whether for dietary, health, or ethical considerations. By closely reading the labels and becoming familiar with different gummy vitamin ingredients, you can make informed choices to ensure your vitamins support your unique dietary preferences and health goals.
Disclaimer: The text, images, videos, and other media on this page are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to treat, diagnose, or replace personalized medical care.
Many gummy vitamins contain added sugar. Excessive sugar consumption can lead to health issues like weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes. Consider how much added sugar you consume from gummy vitamins and other food sources when deciding which vitamin is best for you.
Artificial colors and flavors may trigger sensitivities and have other health and behavioral implications.
Animal-derived gelatin, carmine, and beeswax found in gummy vitamins may pose concerns for vegans, vegetarians, and those with ethical or religious considerations.
If you prefer to avoid foods made from GMOs, look for a certified GMO-free gummy vitamin that has been third-party tested.
How too much added sugar affects your health infographic. (n.d.). www.heart.org. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/how-too-much-added-sugar-affects-your-health-infographic
Nutrition, C. F. F. S. a. A. (2018). Determining the regulatory status of a food ingredient. U.S. Food And Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/food/food-ingredients-packaging/determining-regulatory-status-food-ingredient
Dipalma J. R. (1990). Tartrazine sensitivity. American family physician, 42(5), 1347–1350. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2239641/
Miller, M. D., Steinmaus, C., Golub, M. S., Castorina, R., Thilakartne, R., Bradman, A., & Marty, M. A. (2022). Potential impacts of synthetic food dyes on activity and attention in children: a review of the human and animal evidence. Environmental health : a global access science source, 21(1), 45. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12940-022-00849-9