The vitamin aisle at your local drugstore is under assault. Call it the attack of the gummy bears.
The chewy treat made of gelatin and sugar was formerly known as candy, but now it’s a health product encapsulating everything from children’s multivitamins to supplements for seniors. It’s been estimated that nearly 70 percent of children’s vitamins come in gummy form, making them appealing to kids — too appealing, some critics say, noting that hundreds of parents rush to the emergency room each year with children who ate a whole bottle.
Then there’s the sugar — a gram or so in each vitamin — which troubles both nutritionists and dentists. “Ask any dentist if it’s OK to give sticky candy to a child every day, and they will say no,” said Dr. Roger Lucas, a pediatric dentist near Seattle.
The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages parents from giving children vitamins at all, saying they should get nutrients from food. Still, nearly half of American parents give their children supplements, believing they improve their health. The gummy-vitamin craze, however, troubles even some parents who buy them.
“It’s definitely scary, because when I give one to them, they always say, ‘We want more,’” said Jennifer Marquez, a California mother of two preschoolers who once got into a bottle of gummy vitamins and ate at least half a bottle.
Overdoses, while common, rarely cause significant health problems, poison-control officials say. But when considering whether to buy gummy vitamins, there are things every parent should know.