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Natural Foods Merchandiser

Gummy vitamins: not just for kids anymore

Parents have been poaching their kids’ gummy vitamins for years, so it’s not surprising that several natural supplement makers have introduced adult versions of these wildly popular products. Excellent options for adults who otherwise won’t take supplements, chewable vitamins saw sales in natural grocers and pharmacies increase 8.6 percent during the 52-week period ending last April, according to SPINS, a marketing research company based in Schaumberg, Ill. Although the firm does not track gummy sales separately, Kerry Watson, a SPINS natural product expert, believes that the growth in sales of chewable supplements can be attributed to the flurry of new gummy varieties.

“Children’s nutritional supplementation has been a key trend this year, and gummies are popular. Adult gummy products are also doing well, particularly multivitamins and oils,” Watson says.

When trying to decide whether to shift from traditional vitamins, consumers must weigh issues about ingredients, potency and cost. Here are answers to some of your customers’ questions.

Are they bad for my teeth?
The first or second ingredient in most natural-brands’ gummies is usually sucrose or glucose. “This is the type of sugar we’re trying to avoid [because it’s excellent food for decay-causing plaque bacteria],” says Dr. Richard Price, a spokesman for the American Dental Association, based in Chicago. “Plus, the gummier something is, the longer it stays on your teeth.” This means sugars stay in longer contact with bacteria in your mouth, upping your risk of tooth decay.

“It would be helpful if the product contained an artificial sweetener,” says Price, highlighting a long-standing dilemma facing naturals manufacturers: Real sugar is generally considered safer than chemical-laden substitutes such as aspartame—which has been associated with headaches and depression but doesn’t prompt as much bacteria activity. So far, no one has released a product that contains a natural sugar substitute.

Price notes that eating gummies with a meal and brushing and flossing afterward helps wash away the sugars that stick to teeth. Although this mitigates adults’ tooth-decay risk, it’s less feasible for children, who typically don’t brush as often or as well as grown-ups.

Are gummies vegetarian?
Some are and some aren’t. Customers who are strict vegetarians or vegans should read labels carefully. Many gummies contain the gelling agent gelatin, which is derived from the collagen inside cow and pig bones. Also, many contain beeswax as a glazing vehicle to reduce stickiness—fine for most vegetarians but not vegans.

How do the doses compare ?
For people who have always struggled with taking their vitamins and want a nutritional boost, these undeniably tasty treats are a blessing. When compared to traditional vitamin tablets, though, gummies offer relatively low nutrient doses. For example, Slice of Life Multi + Lycopene gummies and Nature’s Way Alive Whole Food Energizer have approximately the same manufacturers suggested retail price, but Nature’s Way contains 15,000 IU vitamin A and 18 milligrams iron, while Slice of Life offers only 2,500 IU vitamin A and no iron. Both vitamins contain 400 IU vitamin D and 400 micrograms folic acid. Gummies’ cost-per-dose also is often higher.

Are adult gummies safe for kids?
Yes, but follow the same precautions you would with standard vitamins: Kids should take vitamins specifically formulated for children.

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