Gummies Vitamins Beware (Pedcast)

Hey, hey, and welcome to another installment of I’m your host Dr. PAUL SMOLEN I want to thank you for joining me today and for making this blog such a success. You and your children are the reason that I put so much effort into this blog and let me tell you, it has been a very rewarding experience. This blog is beginning to catch on fire. In August 2014 we had 135,000 pages opened in just that month… fantastic. So here we go with another edition. Your free pediatric education continues. A day doesn’t go by when I don’t see a child who takes gummy vitamins. In my practice it is the norm. Why, I don’t know but it just is. These things are incredibly popular and why not, they taste great so the kids love them, and the moms feel like their doing something that’s helping their child’s health. And there is the rub which we are going to talk about more today.  Let’s break that down a little bit and let’s see if we are really doing something good with the gummy vitamins.

Let me start by saying that there probably are some children who absolutely need vitamin supplementation. Children with chronic illnesses, children with part of their intestines gone, children with chronic kidney and liver diseases, children with cystic fibrosis, and situations where a child has extra need for vitamins. Fortunately, there are very few children like that in the world. Most children who have reasonable variety in their diet, do not need vitamins. I know that’s a controversial statement I know I’m going to get a lot of hate mail over that statement, but my reading tells me this. I believe that. So here is something I want you to consider; a Doc Smo pearl for you ponder;  “Just because of therapy makes sense doesn’t mean that it works or is necessary” . Repeat,“Just because of therapy makes sense doesn’t mean that it works or is necessary” I think this relates to vitamins. Some of my longtime listeners already know this because they will remember in previous episodes, when we discussed the Woman’s Health Study, that has looked at this issue over decades with a large cohort of women and found that women who take supplemental vitamins had no better health than women who didn’t. But they did find that… women who ate lots of fruits and vegetables, overall were healthier. Yes, this was not children being studied and yes, this is an association not necessarily causative relationship but I believe it is important. Now we have the China study that tells us the same thing. Fruits and vegetables are where it is at ladies and gentlemen.


So, with that as background, I have a lot of issues with gummy vitamins for children. First of all I don’t think that the vitamins in the chew are necessary for most children. They need fruits and vegetable’s instead where there’s all sorts of balanced nutrients together along with vitamins in the food.  Most experts feel that food is our best source of vitamins. Additionally there is some sort of sugar in most gummy vitamins, not much I admit, only about 3-4 grams but sticky sugary that can stick to the crevices of a child’s teeth can wreak havoc. I mean havoc. In a very short amount of time, a the enamel on your child’s teeth can be gone, absent, “missing in action”. I don’t think you want your children having expensive painful dental work throughout their childhood just for some potential marginal benefit they might get from taking supplemental vitamins. And finally my last beef with these gummy vitamins are that they contain artificial flavors and colors which I really don’t think can be good for a child. Listen to this one… the other day I was talking to a mom about gummies and she told me that her child was convinced that in order to play sports, he needed some newly marketed sports gummies that he was convinced would give him the edge.  Sure, 24 grams of sticky corn syrup sugar, artificial color and flavoring,  with some B vitamins… yeah, that will do the trick for him, but I’m not sure what trick that might be?


So here’s my advice to you the next time you’re tempted to reach for those colorful gummy vitamins in the grocery store. Stop, and direct yourself over to the fruit and vegetable aisle and buy some good food instead. You are right, your child does need those vitamins, but you are just in the wrong isle to get them. Little mistake, but easily fixed. I think your child’s health will improve far more from fruits and vegetables than any vitamin supplement you can find. And their dentist and teeth will thank you.


Let’s have a conversation on my blog where you in on this issue and I’d love to hear what you think. Again thanks for joining me this is Dr. Paul Smolen recording in studio 1 E, that’s first child’s bedroom east side of the house, hoping you can go ahead and recruit, the awesome power of vegetables and fruit. Until next time.