Savvy Supplement Shopper is a blog by CSPI senior staff scientist David Schardt. This blog aims to parse the good from the bad from the truly awful in the supplement aisle.

Gummy vitamins are better tasting and easier-to-swallow than multivitamin tablets, but this convenience comes at a significant cost. 

Problem number one is that most gummy brands are missing too many essential nutrients.

According to the Institute of Medicine, we need to get 13 vitamins and 12 minerals from our diet, fortified foods, or dietary supplements. Multivitamins are supposed to be a kind of insurance policy to make sure we’re getting these. What’s the point of taking one that has only about half of what we need? 

Centrum MultiGummies for Adults, for example, is missing 10 of these vitamins and minerals. NatureMade Multi Adult Gummies and vitafusion Multivites lack 9 of them.

Smarty Pants Adult Complete doesn’t have vitamins B-1, B-3, and K, as well as the minerals iron, magnesium, copper, selenium, and chromium. How can a supplement that’s so “incomplete” call itself “complete?” Good question.

Among the 37 brands of gummy multivitamins we examined, none came close to being a good substitute for an ordinary multivitamin tablet like a Centrum, One-A-Day, or similar brand. Chewable and liquid multis may contain more nutrients than gummies, but they’re no match for multivitamin tablets, either.

Problem number one is that most gummy brands are missing too many essential nutrients.

Problem number two with gummies is that their manufacturing quality is poorer than with multivitamin pills, gelcaps, and tablets, according to the latest findings of the supplement-testing company recently purchased several dozen popular multivitamin products, including 5 brands of gummies, in the United States and Canada and tested them for several key nutrients.

Four of the five gummies contained too much folate or vitamin A, in fact, way more than what was listed on the label. For some brands, the folate levels exceeded the safe daily limit established by the Institute of Medicine. (There may have been problems with other nutrients, but ConsumerLab looked at only a few of them.)

Gummies are notoriously difficult to manufacture with precision, ConsumerLab points out.  Their nutrients are sometimes sprayed on, and since vitamins are more likely to degrade in a gummy, companies put in extra amounts.  Sometimes too much extra, apparently.

But it’s not impossible to manufacture a gummy multivitamin that has the amounts of the nutrients listed on the label. One of the brands ConsumerLab tested did it. A sixth brand volunteered by its manufacturer also passed in a separate analysis.

We can’t tell you which two brands matched their labels because that information is available only to ConsumerLab’s subscribers. Their subscriptions pay for the testing of supplements, which can be very expensive, and it wouldn’t be fair to them or to ConsumerLab to give the information away for free.

So, the bottom line is: If you can swallow a tablet, you’re better off getting your multivitamins that way and not from a gummy. If the tablet is too big, maybe you can break or cut it in half.