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Are Gummies a Good Way to Take Supplements?

Two small studies found that melatonin and multivitamins sold as gummies often do not meet specifications.

What vitamins and minerals do you take? Do you prefer pills, capsules, drops, softgels, chewable tablets or gummies? There may be differences in how well your supplements work, depending on their form. A new study shows that melatonin gummies don’t always deliver the dose on the label.

Discrepancies Found for Melatonin Gummies:

Melatonin gummies have become a popular way for people to take this supplement. A small study published in JAMA shows that doses of this hormone taken as a sleep aid may vary widely from the labeled amount (JAMA, April 25, 2023). Of 25 products tested, most had more than the listed dose, including one product that was 347 percent higher. A few of the products had less melatonin than stated, including one product that had no melatonin detected at all.

Even a gummy with exactly 3 milligrams, as labeled, offers about a thousand times more of the hormone than our brains naturally produce. That is why some experts question whether it makes sense for adults to take this supplement as a sleep aid.

The authors of the study emphasize the hazards for children. Gummies are sweet tasting and may easily be mistaken for candy. The number of calls to poison control centers from parents whose youngsters have eaten many gummies has increased dramatically over the last few years.

The investigators conclude,

“Given these findings, clinicians should advise parents that pediatric use of melatonin gummies may result in ingestion of unpredictable quantities of melatonin…”

An industry trade group, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, objects that the study raises unnecessary concern about these products. They point out that a small overage in dose in a single gummy is not at all equivalent to a child eating a large number in an unsupervised situation.

The problem really lies with a lack of oversight. The FDA does not review dietary supplements before they are marketed, regardless of the form they take. A previous study found problems with some gummy multivitamins. In the same vein, ConsumerLab.com recently updated its analysis of melatonin supplements; the only one that failed was a gummy for children. (You need a subscription to read the entire report.)

How Good Are Gummies?

Q. I always take my vitamins if they are gummies because the sweetness is so delightful. Supplements as capsules are much less appealing to me.

I might be persuaded to change if gummy supplements aren’t as effective, however. The four gummies I take are calcium, vitamin D3, CoQ10 and a multivitamin. What do you think of gummy supplements?

ConsumerLab.com Tests Supplements:

A. One of the few organizations that tests vitamins and other dietary supplements is ConsumerLab.com.

After testing multivitamin gummies, they reported that

“some gummy supplements–particularly gummy multivitamins–do not contain their listed amounts of vitamins or minerals, or contain impurities.”

They noted that 80 percent of the gummy multivitamin products tested failed because they contained too much or too little of certain listed ingredients.

CoEnzyme Q10:

Nonetheless, ConsumerLab.com approved the gummy CoQ10 products they tested as having the correct amount of this supplement. You can find the full report at ConsumerLab.com. There is a subscription fee to access the full report.

ConsumerLab.com tested vitamin D gummy supplements for children (they passed), but not for adults. Consequently, we don’t know how likely it is that your vitamin D3 supplements are well formulated. The same is true for calcium supplements.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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  • Cohen PA et al, "Quantity of melatonin and CBD in melatonin gummies sold in the US." JAMA, April 25, 2023. doi:10.1001/jama.2023.2296
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