Can You Get the Vitamins and Adaptogens You Need From Gummies?
Ever since diets of less nutrient-rich, more commercialized food became dominant in the mid-20th century, it’s been popular to supplement our diets in pill format. For decades, it was a given that those vitamins would be capsules or tablets. But in recent years, we’ve seen brands develop everything from juice shots to greens powders that claim to satisfy our nutrient needs.
Just one of the many categories trying to shake up how we get our vitamins is gummies. Once mainly an option for children, gummy vitamins are now popular for everything from general health to skin and haircare. But can gummies give us sufficient quantities of the vitamins and adaptogens our diets benefit most from?
I’m a fan of Gaia Herbs’ elderberry gummies, and more recently, the brand’s turmeric variety, so my initial hope on this topic pre-research was that these little treats aren’t tricking me. But, wanting to find out for sure if it really is possible that munching on gummies can put me on the path to better health, I talked with Grummies cofounders Nick Michlewicz and Colin Darretta. Their line of gummy supplements pack a serious punch taste-wise, so I assumed that if any company had cracked the code for cramming lots of important ingredients into little gummy candies, it’d be them.
Read on to learn if gummy vitamins really work, as well as how they compare to the traditional pill variety.
Meet the Expert
- Nick Michlewicz and Colin Darretta are the nutrition experts and entrepreneurs behind Grummies, a gummy supplement company finding a balance between real ingredients and a great taste.
How Gummy Vitamins Compare to Pill Supplements
I didn’t anticipate that a serving of gummies could be at all comparable to a serving of pills due to how much more concentrated a pill can be. With nothing to taste, because you swallow it whole, I assumed there was only so much of an active ingredient that could be added to a gummy.
It turns out that while I was right about the ability to only add vitamins to a point under a bad-taste threshold, I wasn’t considering the bioavailability factor. I’ve long been a proponent of kombucha over probiotic pills or juiced turmeric over capsules of curcumin because the body has an easier time digesting liquids and foods than it does capsules. That holds true for gummies, too.
“Studies have shown that gummy vitamins are more bioavailable than pills for absorption when serving size is the same,” Darretta says. One study notes: “Vitamin D3 gummies had greater bioavailability than tablets with higher vitamin D concentrations over time, which may have implications for achieving sufficiency.”
Darretta acknowledges that “most gummies do have less capacity for total active ingredients than a larger pill does,” but that doesn’t mean you can’t get as complete a quantity of the supplement. “What that often means is that it might take two gummies to equal the serving size you could pack into one pill, but that you’re more likely to have greater bioavailability from the nutrients in the two gummies than you do in the one pill,” he says.
The Nutrient Quality in Gummy Vitamins
With the gummy vitamin market innately being more playful and less serious-seeming than the pill supplement world, I asked the Grummies co-founders about ingredient quality. “The form factor of a gummy vs. a pill itself doesn’t make a difference,” Michlewicz explains. “What matters is what ingredients, sourcing, and certification standards a brand and a manufacturer use. The supplement space is full of shady, fly-by-night brands that use poor quality ingredients and false labeling to mislead customers. We see those players in pills, and we’ve also seen them entering the gummy market more and more of late.”
This makes sense. I’d assumed that both Gaia Herbs and Grummies turmeric gummies contain a lot of quality turmeric due to their intense tastes, as well as how nicely they work for me. Michlewicz pointed out that their turmeric gummies’ curcumin C3 complex uses a patented form of turmeric curcumin with a testing history of more than 80 clinical studies. The same quality goes for the Gaia variety, which boasts “24x absorption” and 95 milligrams of curcumin in their “extra strength” gummies.
Bottom line: When it comes to gummy vitamins, you get what you pay for. Avoiding the cheapest option is always wise, and labels and company websites should be transparent about their sourcing and ingredient quality, so do your research if you don’t know for sure whether a brand is reputable. This way, you ensure you’re purchasing high-quality products that actually provide the listed nutrients, rather than empty promises.
The Taste Factor
It’s no secret that ingredients like ashwagandha are anything but delicious, so creating a gummy with things like this takes work. “When you make a gummy, you’re essentially creating a supplement that also has to work like a tasty food, so it’s harder than making a pill,” Michlewicz says. “There’s significantly more complexity in building a delicious flavor profile around an active nutritional ingredient while perfecting the gummy base, so it stays solid and keeps its shape, and also making it chewy and fun to eat.”
Michlewicz says that the process from research and development to commercial production for their high-quality custom gummies can take anywhere from nine to 15 months. “We work with amazing food scientists, certifiers, and sourcing professionals to ensure we’re creating something truly unique and healthy that has only the best active ingredients,” he adds.
Because the active ingredients in gummy vitamins aren’t naturally good tasting, it’s smart to be wary of any gummies that taste too good. “[Some companies] pour corn and glucose syrup and artificial ingredients into their gummies,” Michlewicz says. “You can see them all on Amazon selling their gummy vitamins for $12, and they’re basically just little more than candy.” A high-quality gummy vitamin, while hopefully tasty, usually tastes a little different from gummy candies, but the best way to tell you have a good option is still by researching the brand and formula.
Are Gummy Vitamins Right for You?
If you’re on the fence about getting vital nutrients via gummies, you’re not alone. This market is slow to earn consumer trust, both from people who already take pill supplements and those who don’t. However, their popularity has been growing among those who may have been looking for an option like this all along. “There are many people who absolutely hate ever taking pills, and so given the option of a pill or a healthy gummy, they understandably opt for the latter,” Darretta says.
Michlewicz points out that some people want “health to be easier and a bit more playful, and not such a chore,” and that “real gummy vitamins are an amazing way to help them look forward to their health routine and round out their nutritional profile.”
As someone who takes a handful of pills every morning, I understand that explanation. Gummy vitamins are something I look forward to taking later in the day when I want something to eat.
Can Gummies Replace Pills Completely?
If every supplement I take were available in the gummy format, my day would have a good bit of added delight. That’s not the case currently, though, and it isn’t likely to ever be. “There are lots of ingredients that we wouldn’t put into a gummy because they just taste too harsh, and so those will always stay in pills,” Michlewicz says.
Darretta echoes this sentiment. “There will continue to be specific ingredients—whether it be because they require very large doses, they have minerals that are hard to set into the liquid base of a gummy, or the product tastes so bad you can’t make it palpable in gummy format (we’re on a mission to solve this)—that remain better suited to pills,” he says. However, Darretta does believe a significant portion of the pill market will have similar offerings in the gummy market before long.
Gummy vitamins offer a tasty alternative to popping pills. While you can’t replace all of your supplements with them, there are many different types available, and they offer better bioavailability than pills do. If you’re interested in trying gummy vitamins, be sure to choose a high-quality brand that clearly states where it sources its active ingredients and how much of them they contain. Expect good chew and fruity flavors, but also know that if they’re good quality, you’ll taste that too.
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