We want to do what is best for our kids, always. This, of course, includes making sure they are getting all the proper nutrients they need. So, many of us turn towards vitamins to get our daily dose of goodness.
The current trend is Gummy Vitamins. While they might be the trend now, they have actually been around since the 60’s! Many parents of my patients tell me they are giving them to their kids every morning.
Do the benefits of these gummies outweigh the risks of consuming them?
Do you even need them?
First, you should always consult your child’s pediatrician before giving your children any kind of supplement. Having a balanced diet will go much further than any supplementation.
Multivitamins aren’t necessary for most healthy children who are growing normally.
Foods are the best source of nutrients. Regular meals and snacks can provide all the nutrients most preschoolers need.
While many young children are picky eaters, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have nutritional deficiencies. Many common foods — including breakfast cereal, milk and orange juice — are fortified with important nutrients, such as B vitamins, vitamin D, calcium and iron. So your child may be getting more vitamins and minerals than you think.
Furthermore, multivitamins aren’t without some risks. Megadoses of vitamins and minerals can be toxic. In addition, some vitamins and minerals can interact with medications your child may take.
Talk with your child’s doctor if you’re concerned about whether your child is getting the recommended level of vitamins and minerals. A multivitamin might be helpful for your child if he or she:
- Has a delay in physical and developmental growth (failure to thrive)
- Has certain chronic diseases or food allergies
- Has a restrictive diet, such as a strict vegan diet
If your child does need further supplementation for their diet, be sure that whatever product you are choosing has the proper amount of the vitamin needed.
When I was pregnant, I was so nauseous that I couldn’t even bare the thought of swallowing that horse pill of a prenatal vitamin. Reluctant, I turned to the gummy version. Looking at most of the ingredients listed on the bottles, I noticed that they didn’t have some of the most important ingredients. Completely missing from the most popular prenatal gummy brand was Calcium, Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin, and Iron.
Dietary Supplements do not require approval by the The Food and Drug Administration so they can claim whatever they would like on their labels to seem qualifed for prenatal development. Make sure the vitamins you are giving your kids have what they need.
So, what’s the problem? Even if Gummy Vitamins meet all the nutritional needs of your child, they can still cause enough damage to their teeth that make them not worth the purchase.
Let us put aside the minerals contained within the vitamins. Start with why kids like them. They are like our favorite sticky movie candy, the gummy bear! They contain large amounts of glucose syrup to get that chewy, sticky consistency. Glucose syrup is a mixture of water and glucose – a kind of sugar. Yep, sugar. Even if they are sugar free, these “candies in disguise” still contain damaging ingredients. To get a chewy texture without glucose syrup they need to use a sticky gelatin or citric acid.
What does all of this mean? Run your tongue over the biting surfaces of your back teeth. Feel all of those crevices and grooves? They are narrower and deeper that your tongue can feel. Children have even deeper grooves. When sticky substances get inside those grooves, they stay there. Bacteria eventually consume the sugary substance and produce acids that break down the tooth (aka cavity). Citric acid will only move this process along quicker. Every day your child will chew this vitamin only adding to her chances of getting cavities.
I find many of my patients will eat them after brushing, which means that even more of the gummy is now hanging out all day or night, increasing the chances of a cavity. Some of my patients, with good intentions, brush after they eat the gummy. However, tooth brushes are not always able to get into those grooves to get that stuff out. If left alone, gummy material will remain on teeth for days. Even if they could, most children aren’t the best brushers to begin with. Getting them to remove plaque daily can be tedious enough, add the daily struggle of a sticky, glue like substance and we are decreasing their odds of actually getting their teeth clean.
What can you do?
- Evaluate if there really is a need for supplements. If the pediatrician hasn’t recommended them, discontinue use.
- If there are truly missing out on something, are you able to give it to them some other way? Maybe make some delicious smoothies loaded with all kinds of nutrients as a yummy summer morning treat. Baby Gizmo has some delicious ideas here.
- If supplements are still necessary, go old school with the classic Flintstones. While these chewable chalky vitamins also settle into those groves, the chalky substance is dissolved by your saliva at a much quicker rate. These are much better options for the overall health and dental health of your child if supplementation is necessary.
What is your little ones favorite way to get more nutrients? Are they addicted to gummies or are you slyly hiding the spinach in their smoothies? Let me know!