As vitamin supplements have exploded in popularity, so have the variety of available forms, allowing you to take your vitamins in pills, gummies and even energy bars.
But all this variety creates a lot of uncertainty: Which is the best way to get your daily recommended nutrients, and are your supplements as beneficial as the manufacturers claim?
To help you find the right type of supplement for your needs, we’ve narrowed the search to two forms and will be discussing the pros and cons of gummy vitamins vs pills.
These two forms of supplements are by far the most popular and the most widely available, so they are probably your best bet for all kinds of nutrients, from Vitamin A to Zinc. Since the other forms of supplements – like powdered vitamins and fortified energy bars – are relatively new and less well-known, we’re saving a discussion of them for later.
But anyway, back to the gummy vitamins vs pills discussion, as it rather sums up the balance of boring practicality versus tasty disguises for medicine. Most people choose supplements based on convenience or personal preference, opting for practicality or deliciousness, but is there an objectively better option when trying to choose what form you want your vitamins in?
Table of Contents
Pretty much all supplements are composed of active ingredients and a delivery system: Whether your vitamins are contained in a chalky pill or chewy gummy, the basic principle is the same. However, although they may have the same active ingredients in similar proportions, there are significant differences between gummy and pill or tablet-based supplements:
These soft, chewable vitamins are designed to look and taste like gummy candies, making them the tastiest option in any argument of gummy vitamins vs pills. But this taste comes at a cost, as gummy vitamins are often filled with sugar or artificial additives and contain lower concentrations of active ingredients than many pills.
Made from a combination of active ingredients, binding agents and stabilisers compressed into a smooth pill, supplements in tablet form are no-nonsense lumps of nutrients. Most tablets contain minimal filler ingredients and are one of the most effective ways to get more essential nutrients into your daily routine, though they are unflavoured, difficult for many people to take and, quite frankly, a little boring.
Before your body can use all the beneficial ingredients in your supplements, it needs to break them down and digest them to absorb them into your bloodstream. If your body fails to do all this before the supplement, er, leaves your body, then you’re not getting any of the benefits, so it’s crucial to find a supplement with good absorption, whichever side of the gummy vitamins vs pills debate you’re on.
While it’s impossible to say precisely how fast pill-based vitamins are absorbed (everything from ingredients to the timing of doses affects this), it often takes longer than gummy equivalents.
Because pills are usually swallowed whole, you must thoroughly digest them before you can absorb their contents, taking longer to absorb and resulting in higher chances of some of the active ingredient(s) passing through your system unabsorbed.
Because they are designed to be chewed before swallowing, gummy vitamins tend to be easier to break down than their pill-based equivalents, making this an easy point to gummies in the gummy vitamins vs pills debate. However, this can vary greatly between supplements, so take supplements before a meal for the best absorption.
There is no such thing as instant results when it comes to vitamin supplements: Not only will it take an hour or more for your body to absorb the supplements, it could be weeks before you cure your underlying vitamin deficiency, and the long-term results could take months to manifest.
Furthermore, most medical professionals believe that vitamin supplements won’t provide concrete health benefits if you already have healthy levels of that vitamin. So, in other words, arguments over gummy vitamins vs pills are moot when it comes to the speed of effects, as the delivery method won’t result in faster effects, and you might not even see any effects if you have healthy vitamin levels.
When it comes to vitamin supplements, it can be tough to find the correct dosage for your needs, as you already get some from your diet, and taking supplements might even push you over your Recommended Daily Intake (RDI).
Furthermore, many supplements lack accurate ingredient lists, making it tough to realise how many vitamins you’re actually getting, and this problem is especially common in gummy vitamins due to the difficulty of adding consistent doses of vitamins.
When talking about gummy vitamins vs pills, it’s much easier to add vitamins to pills than gummies reliably, so gummy vitamin manufacturers often resort to spraying vitamins onto gummies or mixing in more than the listed amounts to overcompensate for inconsistencies or vitamin degradation.
Because the FDA doesn’t regulate supplements, it’s up to ethical manufacturers to ensure that their products contain high-quality vitamin extracts in consistent amounts by getting certified by third-party testing organisations such as Informed-Choice, ConsumerLab or NSF International.
While gummy vitamins have several unique benefits – being generally more accessible and more enjoyable than pills – they have many drawbacks, such as cost and vitamin contents. The biggest disadvantage of supplements in gummy form is their limited shelf stability, which causes them to lose potency over time and means pills win the gummy vitamins vs pills over the long term.
Counter-intuitively, this lack of stability means that many gummy vitamins contain more than the label states, as manufacturers overcompensate and pack them full of vitamins to try and cheat the short effective lifespan of the vitamin extracts.
Gummy vitamins look and taste like candy because they basically are – these supplements are typically high in sugar and lower in vitamins than pills, but is their convenience and wide appeal enough to win the gummy vitamins vs pills battle?
Gummy vitamins are designed to taste like gummy candy, with added sweeteners and flavorings that will make your next dose a much more pleasant experience.
Gummy vitamins are much easier to swallow than pills and a lot more accessible to children and older people (who may not want or be able to swallow pills).
If you want to help a friend or family member get more vitamins and they’ve refused other types of supplements, try gummies, especially if they’re young or fussy eaters.
Many gummy supplements contain lots of added sugar, meaning they could be as bad as regular gummy candy for you, making them particularly dangerous for people with diabetes.
Gummy vitamins are much less shelf-stable than pills, and their vitamin contents will slowly degrade, meaning that their actual contents are hard to measure.
When comparing the cost per dose or cost per gram of vitamin extracts, gummy vitamins are much more expensive than other forms of supplements.
Although pills have been around much longer than gummy supplements, they’ve nearly been overtaken in popularity by other types of supplements, but do these old reliable supplements win the battle of gummy vitamins vs pills?
Pills are generally shelf-stable and easier to measure ingredients for, meaning they are more likely to contain active ingredients in the quantites specified than gummy vitamins.
Pills are small enough to fit in your pocket, stable enough to carry around for days on end and can be stored in specialised containers for easy doses.
Gram for gram, vitamin pills contain more active ingredients at lower prices than gummy vitamins
Most pills aren’t designed to taste good, so unless you can swallow them quickly, you’re likely to be left with a bitter taste in your mouth, which puts off many people.
Lots of people struggle to swallow pills, and certain health conditions may leave people completely unable to choke them down, alienating a not-insignificant portion of the population
While you may think there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing, many pill-based vitamins contain far more than the recommended daily amounts, putting you at risk of overdosing and suffering from vitamin toxicity.
Although the gummy vitamins vs pills argument may rage on for years to come, both have worthwhile benefits, though your preference probably hinges on how you think about your health. Are you the kind of person that wants to make their pursuit of health as enjoyable (and fruity flavoured) as possible, or would you rather have dependable, no-nonsense pills to get your daily dose of a given vitamin?
While gummy vitamins are comparatively unreliable and expensive, they’re an excellent option for people who can’t or don’t want to take bland pills, making them a slightly inferior but more widely accepted alternative. In summary, we believe that pills are better to supplement your intake of vitamins and minerals due to gummy vitamins’ added sugars and unreliable vitamin contents.
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