Walk into the supermarkets these days and you will find shelves full of supplements.
Some of these are targeted towards kids with brightly coloured labels with clever use of language to entice parents to add to their child’s diet. They are usually soft, easy to chew, sweet-tasting vitamin gummies further appealing to parents and kids.
Are gummy vitamins good for you?
Vitamin gummies may seem like a great idea to throw into that trolley if you are struggling with your child’s food fussiness and worried about gaps in their nutrient intake, concerned about their bouts of colds or wanting to support their brain development. But are they that good??
Vitamin gummies concern #1: High sugar
They are sweet and to get them into a nice soft, chewy texture is going to require sugar and some fillers that are typically non-nutritive and potentially non-beneficial.
As a listed complementary medicine and not a food, there is only a requirement to state that the product contains sugar. There is no label showing how much sugar each gummie has.
With a little search on the internet, one child’s soft gummie from a product by Nature’s Way contains ¼ teaspoon of sugar each. For a primary school age child, the serving is 2 gummies. So there is 1/2 tsp of sugar already!
This may not seem like a lot but does it really set the right habits for healthy eating??
Vitamin gummies concern #2: Quality
Not all supplements are created equal.
In Australia, not all dietary supplements go through a full evaluation prior to being released onto the market and hence are not assessed for quality, safety and efficacy before hitting the shelves.
Those bought off the shelf typically contain minute amounts of the active ingredients and cheaper versions of those ingredients when compared to supplements prescribed by a naturopath or clinical nutritionist; raising questions on their actual value.
Iron is a great example of this. Practitioner iron supplements might contain lower amounts of iron, but it is in a form that is much easier for your child to absorb, and a lot less constipating.
There are also concerns about the actual bioavailability of sub-par ingredients meaning it is unknown how much of the actual product is actually absorbed and used efficiently by the body and how much just passes out the other end.
In comparison, practitioner-only supplements have gone through rigorous testing for safety and efficacy. Backed by scientific evidence, they are formulated in a way, both in terms of synergistic blends of nutrients and amounts of nutrients, to optimise their therapeutic value and address the condition they are targeting.
Vitamin gummies concern #3: Self-prescribing
It is not uncommon these days for people to self-prescribe supplements after hearing what worked for their friend’s child or after reading on the internet what is great to take for a particular condition their own child is going through.
Whilst following the instructions on the label of off-the-shelf supplements helps reduce the risk of any serious negative effects, self-prescribing may lead to minimal or no noticeable health benefits due to the typical low-dose and lower-standard of active ingredients in them.
If your child is going through some health issues, it is best to get a comprehensive assessment of what is going on for them now and in the time leading up to their current state.
Working with one of our qualified practitioners provides your child with a personalised plan that involves different stages of treatment that utilises both diet and supplementation strategies. Quality supplements are chosen based on their therapeutic value to address what your child is showing they need extra support with.
Supermarket vitamin gummies are not a replacement for the superior level of nutrients that come from food.
With their lolly-like appeal they may even promote increased food fussiness and a false sense of confidence that your child is getting all that they need.
They are not a replacement for the level of care your child may need. Looking for a recipe to make you own gummies? Try this Elderberry Gummy Recipe.