Sweet gummy vitamins aren’t just for kids anymore — it’s the adults who are switching to chewable supplements over traditional pills.
Grownup gummies, in fact, are one of the fastest-growing segments in the vitamin business these days. Pills still predominate, but gummy products have jumped more than 25 percent in sales since 2015, the New York Times recently reported. Pharmavite, makers of the brand NatureMade, reported in 2014 that 65 percent of its gummy sales were for adult products, with only 35 percent for children.
Why are adults so smitten with the colorful, candy-like supplements? Basically, “they taste good,” one woman told the Times. That makes them enjoyable so “I take them much more consistently,” she added.
The other reason, say many in the industry, is “pill fatigue.” As Americans get older and have more prescription meds to take — the latest figures from AARP show an average 4.5 prescription meds a month — they get tired of washing down all those pills every day. A chewable vitamin that looks like a gummy bear or a piece of chewy chocolate that’s full of calcium seems much more appealing.
Those who have trouble swallowing large pills, like calcium supplements or multivitamins, also prefer something they can chew.
Plus, the flavorings can mask the chalky or bitter taste of vitamins, Paul Breslin, a professor of nutritional sciences at Rutgers University and a researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, told the Times.
There is a downside, though. Gummies do have more sugar than traditional vitamin pills. And, because supplements aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration to ensure safety, it’s hard to know if they really contain the listed amount of ingredients.
ConsumerLab.com, an independent testing firm, reported in 2015 that it found “more problems with candy-like vitamins than with traditional forms, such as tablets or caplets,” partially because gummies are more challenging to manufacture.
Nutritionist Cheryl Toner, who specializes in wellness and sports nutrition in Herndon, Va., says supplements — gummy or pill — can help people with a diagnosed nutrient deficiency that’s not being met by a balanced diet. But she cautions that people need to read labels carefully and avoid high doses of single nutrients.
“I also advise my patients to look for products that display a quality verification seal, such as USP or NSF,” Toner says, which is a good indication that the product contains the amount of ingredient listed on the label and isn’t contaminated by dangerous substances, like lead.
One more thing, she adds: Just because gummies are cute and taste good, don’t think of them of as treats and don’t take too many.