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Are Gummy Vitamins and Supplements Effective?

You’re looking for an easier (tastier) way to get health-supportive compounds into your body on the daily - except, are gummies really the answer, or just a fake “hack” to health? In the following article, I’m going to share the 3 key factors to consider when looking to purchase an effective gummy vitamin or supplement.

We all want to consume things that will do more good than harm, and gummies can be tricky territory in this regard. Sure, you’re ingesting whatever vitamin compounds (or herbs, superfoods, etc.) in the medicinal make-up of the product, but what about all that other stuff that makes it a “gummy”...and thus, taste good?

Next, as for the medicinal ingredients - is there really enough to make a difference? These areas of concern, plus a few other key points to be mindful of when sourcing a high-quality gummy vitamin or supplement that will bring effectiveness is what I’m about to outline...

1) Check The Medicinal Ingredients

Some vital elements to acknowledge here. First: the quality of the medicinal ingredients. While I cannot speak as in-depth to isolated vitamin compounds (really not my thing!), I can share a thing or two about herbs...

You’ll want to ensure the herbs you’re consuming are 100% Certified Organic herbs that are pesticide free, non-irradiated, mycotoxin free, have no presence of toxic metals, and with a Certificate of Analysis for safety (including 3rd party testing). Did you know that oftentimes herbs like Ashwagandha are watered with sewage sludge? Yuck! Potent herbs are only beneficial if they are grown clean and the extraction process does not involve hexanes or known or suspected toxins. As for medicinal mushrooms, you’ll need to look for real mushroom (not mycelium) grown on wood logs (not on a rice or other growing medium) in a greenhouse (not in a lab). Consuming clean herbs that are actually the herbs labelled - and not mixed with fillers and/or starch - makes for a difference you notice.

Next, you’ll want to be sure of dosing - in other words, is there enough (or possibly even too much?!) mg of the extracts to even make a difference? Here’s where formality comes into play. When looking for a Natural Health Product - you’ll want to be sure it’s just that, a “NHP” as we call it in Canada. Health Canada regulates natural health products (NHPs) so that Canadians can have confidence that the products they use are safe, effective and of high quality. You can tell if a product has been approved and thus is currently regulated by Health Canada if it has a Natural Products Number (otherwise known as an NPN) on the label. While there may be many “healing”/”wellness” gummy vitamins and supplements out there are on the market, in order to confirm their trustworthiness in effective dose and quality - you’ll want that number to seal the deal.

2) Check The Non-Medicinal Ingredients

This is a big one for gummy supplements and vitamins in particular. Oftentimes (honestly, like 9 times out of 10), the gummy has more health-reducing aspects than the health-supportive ingredients it is marketing - at least in my humble, health-nut opinion! Gummy vitamins are commonly made from gelatin, corn starch, water, sugar, and added colourings. None of these things - other than maybe water, and assuming it’s purified water, should be something you want to ingest.

A good list of things to look out for and STEER CLEAR of include:

  • Sugars: Whether it’s labelled as “sugar” or as glucose, dextrose, fructose, etc. Basically, avoid anything that ends in “ose” - it’s simply not good for you.

  • Sugar alcohols: Isomalt, Erythritol, Lactitol, Maltitol, Mannitol, Sorbitol, Xylitol. Overconsumption of sugar alcohols can lead to diarrhea, nausea, bloating, and other unwanted digestive symptoms in many people.

  • Gelatin: This is mainly an issue if you’re following a plant-based lifestyle, as it is usually produced from animal skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones. A good vegan alternative is agar, which is essentially a healthful way to produce that same “gummy” consistency.

  • Carrageenan: An additive used to thicken, emulsify, and preserve foods and drinks - it’s sometimes used in gummy formulas, so best to look out for it. Joanne K. Tobacman, MD, who has published multiple peer-reviewed studies on the biological effects of carrageenan, believes that all forms of it are harmful. She has found that exposure to it, in the amounts contained in processed foods, causes inflammation in the body (1).

Basically, you’re going to want the best of both worlds: sugar-free or at least low-sugar, but without any sugar alcohols or toxic chemicals that may make your gummy vitamin or supplement “taste good” - but certainly isn't conducive to good health. Ideally, it’s best to try to find one that’s keto-friendly (this is my preference in case I want to still take my gummy vitamins during a fast or before I break my usual intermittent-fasting regime) - but not compensating with crap.

3) Other “Non-Negotiables” For a Quality Gummy Vitamin or Supplement

The earth & its resources aren’t in endless supply - although sometimes, as consumers, we’re driven to think and shop in that way. Reducing your carbon footprint and being a mindful shopper - avoiding plastics at all costs - can go a long way in supporting the environment for yours & generations to come. Gummy vitamin or supplement packaging is no different here. These are consumables and products we usually buy monthly - eat the gummies, and discard the rest. As for “the rest” - try to choose supplements that are sold in fully recyclable or compostable packaging. Glass is an obvious choice - plus then you don’t get the harmful effects of plastic, which may leach into your supplements and that’s obviously NOT health-supportive.

Last but not least, let’s be real: price matters. While supporting all of the workers who brought that product into existence - including the herb farmers, manufacturing labour, visionaries and entrepreneurs behind the company, etc. etc. - is important, it’s also important to be realistic. For many gummy vitamins and supplements, they are most effective and noticeable results are gained from daily consumption for a period of at least a couple of months. Hence, be sure that you opt for something you can commit to. A good quality supplement will often go from $30-60 upwards monthly, so it’s best to budget accordingly. I suggest taking advantage of bulk discount deals as well as subscription models which often include a special monthly rate as well as free shipping!