When I was in college, after a few years of dealing with a removed gallbladder and some version of IBS, I began to experience too much pain to do basic activities. The recommended diet from my doctor seemed to help stabilize the pain from going overboard. However, the pain never ceased.

I was prescribed various pills for pain relief, fiber, probiotics, digestion, acid reflux and more.

But slowly, due to needing an increased dosage and therefore bigger pills or my body getting tired, I started getting nauseous and even threw them up.

What was the solution? Gummy vitamins.

Though some medication is only found in pills, taking gummy vitamins allowed me to find some relief.

Over the years, I continued using gummy vitamins where possible. Partly for fear of throwing up, but also for their taste.

However, I’ve recently found some information on these gummies that might be concerning.

Are gummy vitamins as effective?

According to Women’s Health Network, these tasty gummies are made from gelatin, corn starch, sugar, fillers and chemical additives to make them soft and chewy. The FDA also regulates gummy vitamins as food, meaning they are held to a lower standard than traditional pill supplements. Therefore, it is harder to tell what nutrients and how much of them you are getting.

On average, vitamin gummies contain about the same amount of sugar as regular candy does. If the gummy is listed as sugar-free, they are likely to have other sweeteners such as fruit juice or sugar alcohols, per UCLA Health.

Similar to chewing on candy, eating sugary vitamins can leave residue on teeth. The sugar and citric acid residue contributes to cavities, gum inflammation and the wearing down of tooth enamel, according to Women’s Health Network.

Which gummy vitamin might be the worst?

In a study published by JAMA Network, researchers found, out of 25 different gummy vitamins containing melatonin, 22 brand labels, or 88%, were inaccurately labeled. Within those 22 brands, the amounts of melatonin ranged from 0% to 374% of what the label read.

Sometimes, these gummies might taste too good. The annual number of calls to Poison Control for children melatonin overdoses has risen over 530% within the past decade. If taken to the emergency room, most cases were mild. However, at least 300 of these children required intensive care, five were put on ventilators and two died, according to The Atlantic.

Can I still have a gummy vitamin?

Learning the information above might seem a little worrying. However, it’s important to note that if you need to take supplements or vitamins, a gummy version is better than nothing, per UCLA Health.

Before considering taking a gummy vitamin, follow these steps, as suggested by UCLA Health:

  • Talk to your primary care physician about which nutrients and how much is needed.
  • Read the nutrition label to make sure the gummies not only contain the correct nutrients but are also low in sugar.
  • Choose gummies that are third-party tested, as shown by a certification stamp.
  • Choose gummies that are manufactured by reputable retailers.
  • Follow the recommended dosage.

How can you take pills easier?

Wishing to start laying off some gummies? The University of Mississippi Medical Center offers some pill swallowing techniques.

Pop-bottle method for tablets

  1. Fill a plastic bottle with water.
  2. Put the tablet on your tongue and close lips tightly around the opening of the bottle.
  3. Take a drink, making sure to keep contact between the bottle and your lips.
  4. Don’t let air get into the bottle.

Lean forward method for capsules

  1. Put the capsule on your tongue and take a medium sip of water without swallowing.
  2. Bend the head forward by tilting your chin a little toward your chest.
  3. Swallow the capsule and water with your head bent forward.

Crushing pills

Check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if you can crush the medication before doing so. Sometimes, crushing the pill changes how effective the medicine is.

If you can crush a pill, add the powder to a creamy texture such as applesauce. Not only does the powder blend easily, but applesauce has minimal effect on altering the effectiveness of the medication.

Other tips

  • Take one pill at a time.
  • Do not use fruit juices. These drinks alter the effectiveness of medications.
  • Put your pill in a spoonful of applesauce and swallow in one bite.
  • Take small and easy pills first. Starting off with easy pills can reduce the anxiety involved with pill swallowing difficulty.
  • Consider getting a pill swallowing cup, spout, straw or gel.