Gummy Vites: Should We Bite?

Gummy Vites:  Should We Bite?

Confession;  I love gummy bears.  The end.  Well, maybe not the end.  I do love them and I cannot keep them in my house.  When I do, I am consistently 3 to 5 pounds heavier. I do not have the ability to resist them; therefore, they are not in my house (except on special occasions).  But then I discovered gummy vitamins.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven!  I immediately started taking Vitamin D and B in gummy form and soon followed with Vitamin C.  You can’t take too much Vitamin C, can you?  Before I knew it I was taking handfuls of sugar-crusted, orange-flavored Vitamin C gummies every day.  I would look forward to the consumption of these delightful chews with glee.  After months of this behavior, (you guessed it) I gained several unwanted pounds and could not lose them.  I never made the connection, if you can believe that.

After my annual blood test came back with slightly elevated blood sugars, I got a little upset.  I examined my diet.  I do not drink sugary sodas, or any sugar drinks, to include juices.  I do not put sugar in my coffee. I had already cut out most sugar in my morning cereal.  I had cut out the gummy bears…….or had I?  Nope.  I had simply replaced them with vitamin gummies.  I should also add that I do drink wine; I like it a lot.   I suspect this also adds to the sugars in my blood; however, the first thing I decided to try, to reduce blood sugar, was to drop-kick the all the gummy vitamins out of my life.  Guess what?  Within a month I had dropped the 3 extra pounds, without changing anything else in my diet. The pounds are staying off without any further effort.  In a few months, I will test my blood again to see if this action has impacted my blood sugars.  I will keep you posted.

So what are the gummy vitamins all about?  Are they any good?  Are they bad?  Well, of course in my case (being addicted to them) they were not good for me.  Are they good for you?  Are they good in moderation?  Let’s check it out.

After doing some research I discovered several interesting facts about gummy vitamins.  Because they are so delicious, there is a risk, especially in kids, of over-consumption, which can be toxic.  According to an article written by Martica Heaner Ph.D., last year for SELF:

“Some fat-soluble vitamins such as A or beta-carotene, and E, and minerals like iron, can build up to toxic levels quite easily. One part of DRI is the “tolerable upper intake level,” or UL, which is the most you can take of a nutrient before you run the risk of adverse effects. The UL for vitamin A, for instance, is 10,000 IU, which is surpassed if you eat just five of some popular gummy multis. Too much vitamin A can cause dizziness, nausea, headaches, skin irritation, and joint pain (and in rare instances, coma and even death). Just four gummies that contain 10 mg of niacin per serving puts you at the upper limit, above which you could experience “flushing” (burning, red, tingling sensation on skin), nausea, or vomiting. Too much iron can give you stomach pains at best and cause convulsions or be fatal at worst. You can gauge how many gummies are really too many by checking out the percent of daily value for each vitamin and mineral on the label.”

This is just an example, but you get the idea!  Take them as directed, if you are going to take them at all.  If a serving is 2 gummies and you stick to that, you are likely only consuming a couple extra grams of sugar a day.  But if you take more than the recommended dose, or if you are taking, as I was, several different vitamins and supplements in the gummy form, those sugar grams add up.  You can be taking in up to 50, or more, extra calories a day.  Again, for me that became extra, unwanted pounds.

What is in them that makes them so delicious?  Well I read my Kirkland bottle of Adult Gummies Vitamin C to see what made them so irresistible.  Sure the bottle says “no synthetic dyes,” “no preservatives,” “no yeast or gluten”; however, the first three ingredients are sugar, corn syrup and water.  What?  That is a lot of sugar for a mere 250 mg per two Vitamin C gummies.  With all that sugar, what happens to your teeth?  Let’s get the DL from New York-based dentist Jonathan B. Levine, DMD, taken from an online Teen Vogue article:

“Dr. Levine informs us that these ingredients stick to your teeth, which is a breeding ground for the demineralization of those pearly whites. “That’s three grams of refined sugar or carbs, the enemy not just of your teeth but your body too. If you must take them, make sure you’re brushing and flossing properly immediately after.”

So you have to brush right after chewing up these yummy gummies. If you are thinking of getting the sugar-free variety, the same Teen Vogue article goes on to explain:

“Not so fast, smarty pants. If you think you’re beating the system by opting for sugar-free gummy vitamins, we give you an A for effort but you’re not quite safe either. “Even if the gummies don’t have sugar, what we call ‘biofilm’ is always naturally forming on your teeth, so if they don’t get cleaned properly, plaque is bound to develop.” And no one wants that.”

The previously quoted SELF article concludes:

“So you should stick to the serving size on the label. (And, OK, doubling it probably won’t kill you—but eating an entire bottle is a terrible idea.) In the big picture, though, if you eat a healthy diet full of plenty of vegetables, you really don’t need to be taking vitamins all the time anyway. And if you really just want gummy bears, that’s OK, too.”

It seems that if you can limit your gummy vitamin intake to two a day, then you are good to go.  If you decide to take all your vitamins, calcium and supplements in gummy form, you just might have a big problem.  My answer was to cut them out entirely.  But I suffer from a gummy addiction.  You might have more will power than I.  Proceed with caution and, as always, get advice from your doctor before starting or changing your vitamin and supplement routine.

One last thing to consider when thinking of taking vitamins of any sort, and this comes from the FDA itself:

FDA is not authorized to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed.” 

Maybe keep this in mind as you wander down the vitamin isle.  I usually only buy supplements from reliable vendors online, such as Emerson Ecologics.  They cost more but they are more reputable than most.  For some reason, I broke my own rules and went rogue with the gummy vitamins, I guess the temptation was too much and I rationalized the usage.  I am back, I am happy to say, and I will not be eating anymore gummy vitamins.  I do take Vitamin D and B and a few others that I know I need to maintain a healthy mind and body, so I have not given up on vitamins, to be clear.  Just keep all of these things in mind as you decide what is best for you and consult your doctor for the best plan.  Get an annual blood test to make sure you do not require additional vitamin supplements in your diet.  Of course, as always, it is best to get your vitamins from high quality food sources; but when we cannot achieve this, we often need to supplement with additional vitamins.

“Nearly all disease can be traced to a nutritional deficiency,” – Dr. Linus Pauling, two time Nobel Prize winner

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