Gummy Bear candies, gummy worms, and other ooey, chewy gummy snacks have been around for quite some time. They’ve long been a favorite of children as well as adults and, where candy is concerned, many see them as a better alternative to giving children chocolate and other sweet snacks.
In 1997, Hero Nutritionals™ jumped on the gummy bandwagon and introduced the first gummy-form vitamins for kids, known as Yummi Bears®. They were marketed (and still are) as nutrition-rich and all natural, a reasonable and more child-friendly alternative to vitamins that had to be swallowed whole or even other chewables such as the ever-popular Flintstone Vitamins that so many of us took as we were growing up.
Parents quickly sent them flying off the shelf and the gummy vitamin craze was born. Many parents took the bait, for sure. But are these cute little vitamins as kid-friendly as we’re made to believe, and are they amenable to good dental health?
The pros of gummy vitamins
Of course, it’s easy to see the benefits of gummy vitamins, especially where our youngest kids are concerned.
✓ There’s no arm-twisting involved when it comes to taking these adorable gummy vitamins. Kids WANT to eat them and you often have to convince them that they don’t need more than one or two! No force-feeding here!
✓ They’re super easy to swallow, unlike pills that need to be swallowed whole. They’re even better than bitter-tasting, powdery chewable options.
✓ They do indeed offer some of the vitamins and minerals that your child may be missing from their diet, especially if he or she is a picky eater.
The drawbacks of gummy vitamins
While all of those “pros” seem like reason enough to move ahead with gummy vitamins, there are indeed reasons why you might want to re-think your decision or simply change your MO a bit when it comes to dispensing these sugary supplements.
✓ Gummy vitamins tend to be weaker and not as effective as other types of vitamins. So, kids aren’t getting all the supplemental vitamins and minerals they might need but they ARE getting an extra dose of sugar they don’t need!
✓ Because gummy vitamins taste so good, there have been instances of children nabbing the bottle and overdosing on them. Each year, hospitals report at least a few cases of kids consuming an entire bottle and then suffering from the effects of too much of something that’s meant to be good. There are indeed companies that are careful not to include the nutrients that could be dangerous if taken in excess, but some of the less-reliable companies don’t go the extra mile to keep their gummies safe.
✓ Tooth decay can be an adverse effect of taking gummy vitamins. These sticky, sugar-coated supplements tend to stick to teeth, increasing the chance of bacteria growth and the formation of plaque. And remember, sugar – in general – feeds bacteria, so the less consumed, the better.
So, what should I do?
Perhaps you’ve had a lot of success with gummy vitamins and don’t want to stop giving them to your child. If you’re absolutely set on continuing, you can minimize the risk of tooth decay and other problems by not making them seem like a treat. Dentists recommend you give them to your child with meals so that they understand they are a supplement and not a snack.
Otherwise, ask your pediatric dentist or pediatrician about better options for your kids or consider taking a look at your daily menus to make sure your children are getting the vitamins and minerals they need through the foods they eat, thus eliminating the need for supplements.
Do you have more questions about vitamin supplements for your child(ren)? Don’t hesitate to ask us at your next appointment at Anchorage Pediatric Dentistry. Call us at (907)562-1003 schedule an appointment!