Adult gummy multivitamins

They took the “multi” out of multivitamins.

Nutrition is now about candy.  Chewable gummy candy multivitamins are now for adults of all shapes and sizes.  Young adult, older adult, pregnant, women, men.  The first question that comes to mind is “Why?”  Are gummies especially good vehicles for some nutrients?  Is there some unrecognized widespread problem with tablets?

Before launching into my critique, let me start with the key word: multivitamin.  There is NO STANDARD DEFINITION (shouting for a reason here).  Don’t forget that.  Multivitamin means whatever the manufacturer wants.  No government standard.  No industry standard.  No public health standard.  You might as well label these supplements as “random vitamin/mineral collections”.  When it comes to tablets or capsules, some companies offer formulas that approximate the recommended daily intake of many (most, some, a few) of the nutrients in the pill.  But there is no legal obligation to include anything in particular, or to have certain doses.  I’ve talked about this before.

Adult gummy multis take this randomness to a whole new level, yet still slap a MultiVites health halo on the label.  Buyer beware!  Consider the formula for one such supplement from a major company:

nutrient              % daily value

vitamin A      50%

vitamin C     100%

vitamin D     200%

vitamin E      50%

niacin         50%

vitamin B6    100%

folic acid    100%

vitamin B12   100%

zinc           33%

magnesium       1%

Choline      60 mcg

There are a few other nutrients, some in laughably trivial amounts.  1% of magnesium?  Why bother?  You can get almost 10X that from 1 TB of peanuts.  And 60 micrograms of choline??  The recommended daily intake for an adult woman is 425 milligrams.  60 mcg is a mere 0.01% of that.  Why bother?  One egg has vastly more choline, about 150 mg.  Some are touted as having omega-3 fats.  Whoo hoo!  A whopping 42 mg in one product.  Note that it’s going to be chemically impossible to put any meaningful amount of a large lipid molecule, such as an omega-3 fat, into a gummy vitamin candy that has other nutrients.  Get your omega-3 somewhere else.

And another problem: no list of the nutrients that are missing from this supplement, nutrients common to all other adult supplements.  B1, B2?  Where are they?  Iron?  Vitamin K?  What’s up with that?  What’s likely up is that many nutrients don’t work in gummy vitamins due to the taste they impart, or the chemistry.  They just might not work well, and so are left out.  And the manufacturer doesn’t have to tell you anything about that.  Just don’t list them.  Meanwhile they pad the list with nutrients present in trivial amounts to make it look good.  Putting that “multi” in multivitamin.

I thought perhaps this was just a problem with one company, but it’s widespread.  This women’s formula from One-A-Day has even fewer nutrients in even smaller doses.   It’s described as:

…. a complete multivitamin designed for women that comes in a fun-to-take gummy.

“Complete” in whose world?  Not in mine.  Oh but it’s fun to take!  That must make up for missing nutrients.  For some people this is especially troubling.  Iron is one nutrient that’s critically important for pregnant women, yet I found prenatal gummy’s with zero iron, and no mention of that on the label of course.  It can also be an issue for women of child bearing age in general, since they have higher iron requirements, and adult gummy vites won’t have it.

My take on adult gummies?  I personally and professionally would never buy or use them.  If I’m going to take a multiple vitamin, it’s going to be as complete as possible, with reasonable amounts of all key nutrients, not token tidbits and not outrageously high doses of anything.  If you want to chew on something that tastes fruity, eat some actual fruit.  Added bonus: fruit has plenty of other nutrients missing from those gummy vites.

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