When gummy vitamins started popping up left and right a few years ago, my younger, health-conscious but sugar-obsessed self was thrilled. A good-for-me excuse to treat myself to something sweet? I didn't need much convincing—and my supplement cabinet quickly filled up with a whole slew of gummies, from a berry-flavored daily multivitamin to these yummy pink treats for healthy hair, skin, and nails to little vitamin C orange slices. (It's no wonder that gummy supplements are expected to be a $10 billion industry by 2025...)
It wasn't long, though, before the rising keto trend had me questioning my sugar intake—and I found myself frankly horrified after adding up how much sugar I was consuming just by popping my gummy vitamins alone. It was more than 15 grams of the stuff.
I switched back to my usual capsules in a flash and never looked back—and if you're as gung-ho about the gummies as I once was, you might just want to consider a similar move, at least when it comes to your multivitamin. Here's why.
Gummy multivitamins aren't as sweet as you think.
Turns out, gummy multivitamins are kind of the bane of many a nutrition pro's existence—and for a couple of different (major) reasons:
1. The obvious: added sugar.
Though gummy vitamins tout themselves as good for your health, the fact that they contain certain vitamins and minerals doesn't cancel out the fact that those nutrients are wrapped up in quite the sugary package. "Gummy multivitamins often contain added sugar and can contribute extra carbohydrates and calories to your diet," dietitian Jessica Cording, R.D., CDN, author of The Little Book of Game-Changers, previously told mbg.
Some gummy multivitamins contain upward of 8 grams of added sugar and 11-plus grams of carbohydrates per serving, which is pretty significant—especially if you follow a sugar-conscious eating style generally or specifically, like keto, that involves limiting the sweet stuff as much as possible.
As mbg VP of scientific affairs Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, explains in her expert assessment of the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans: "It's prudent to have a conservative daily nutrition 'budget' for added sugars" because "when you make every bite count in a nutrient-dense fashion, there's not room for too much more."
Of course, minimizing the added sugars in your diet is pretty much always a good move for your overall health and well-being—and your supplement routine is an easy place to start.
2. The not-so-obvious: incomplete formulas.
Finding a multivitamin that provides a truly complete array of vitamins and minerals can be challenging enough as it is—and if you're searching for a gummy multivitamin that offers a truly comprehensive formula, well, you might be chasing a pot of gold that doesn't even exist.
"I don't think multivitamin gummies warrant the designation 'multivitamin' because they are so incomplete compared to their capsule, tablet, or softgel counterparts," says Ferira. In fact, she considers incomplete formulas that either contain sub-efficacious amounts of certain nutrients or leave them out altogether, one of the biggest red flags in the multi world—and gummy multivitamins are perhaps the most common culprit.
Part of the reason for this is actually simpler than you might think: In gummy multivitamins, all of the nutrients have to be packaged up in sugar and either gelatin or pectin, the ingredients that actually make a gummy a gummy, Ferira explains. This means that there is quite literally only so much space for the nutrients themselves. Minerals, in particular, tend to be bulky nutrients—and, as a result, are often left out of gummy multivitamins for the sake of space, she notes.
And lack of space is just the beginning of the gummy multi dilemma. Ferira goes on to say that, "gummies require heat, and that poses real challenges and stability issues for many nutrients. Also, it's just plain difficult to conceal the less-than-tasty ingredients, like distinct metallic overtones from minerals. Nutraceutical confections are more complex than you'd like to think."
The long and short of it: Check your Supplement Facts panel and you'll see that gummy multivitamins often lack a bunch of nutrients (especially minerals, vitamin K, and the full array of essential B vitamins), so they simply don't provide as complete a lineup of vitamins and minerals that multis packaged up in other forms (capsules, softgels, tablets) can offer.
Due to the collective limitations and challenges of this candy-meets-vitamin option, gummy multis also fall short on a bunch of nutrients (particularly minerals, which can be bulky), so they ultimately can't provide as complete a spectrum of vitamins and minerals as multivitamins that are packaged up in other forms, adds Ferira.
Though swallowing a capsule, tablet, or softgel multivitamin doesn't feel quite as exciting as sinking your teeth into a fruity-flavored gummy, doing so is the best way to ensure that your daily supplement routine (and the dollars you spend on it) provides your body with as much nutrition—and as much benefit—as possible.*
"Gummies are an incomplete, inefficient, and sugar-laden way to approach a multivitamin," Ferira says. "While I certainly think well-designed gummies can be useful for certain complexes, as well as for singular nutrients or botanicals, for a multi, they're genuinely lacking."
What should you look for in a high-quality multivitamin, then? Check out our list of criteria for picking out a multi that'll not only help fill nutrient gaps left by your daily diet but support a wide variety of important body functions and health goals, too.*
Lauren Del Turco, CPT is a freelance health and wellness writer, editor, and content strategist who covers everything from nutrition to mental health to spirituality. Del Turco is also an ACE-certified personal trainer. She graduated from The College of New Jersey with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing. When she’s not on deadline, you’ll find Del Turco hiking with her dogs, experimenting with new plant-based recipes, or curled up with a book and tea.