Kids (and adults) are nuts about gummy vitamins. They’re the perfect excuse to eat a small dose of candy every morning — and get your nutrients while you’re at it. But relying entirely on gummies for your multivitamin needs is probably not the best idea. Most gummy vitamins — while delicious — are missing one crucial nutrient: iron.
Don’t believe it? Check the container. You’ll be hard-pressed to find even one brand of gummy vitamin that includes iron in the long list of nutrients on the label. And having iron is so crucial; it plays an integral role in the health of your blood cells.
“Iron is an important part of hemoglobin, the part of red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body,” Cheryl Mussatto, registered dietitian from Kansas, told The Daily Meal. “If a person’s diet is lacking in iron, tissues and organs won’t get the oxygen they need.”
To omit such an important nutrient seems like a large oversight. But there's a reason you won't find iron in your gummy vitamins. As it turns out, there are qualities of iron that make it difficult to mold into a tasty, colorful gummy. The Daily Meal reached out to One A Day, Smarty Pants Vitamins, and Nature’s Bounty to ask why iron was left out of gummy vitamin production; though none have replied, we can make some guesses about their reasons.
For one, iron doesn’t tend to taste great; it doesn’t blend in as well to the saccharine gummy taste as the other micronutrients included. This may partly explain the omission.
Mussatto suggests that there could also be a protective reason that these vitamins don’t include iron.
“Gummy vitamins look and taste like candy. If a child ate a bunch of them thinking they were candy, they could be in danger of developing iron poisoning, which can corrode the intestinal lining and irritate the stomach,” she said. Symptoms of the condition include severe vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dehydration, lethargy, or vomiting.
Of course it’s also possible to overdose on other vitamins in the gummies, as well. There is such a thing as too many gummy vitamins.
But getting getting your daily allowance of iron is still important. Luckily, there are sources of iron outside of just vitamins. Many foods contain enough iron to supplement a healthy dose without taking a pill.
“Some of the best animal sources of iron include red meat (especially beef and liver), chicken, turkey, fish, shellfish, and pork,” Mussatto advised. “Some of the better plant-based sources of iron include iron-fortified breakfast cereals, spinach and other dark-green leafy vegetables, prune juice, peas, lentils, and beans.”
Theoretically, you shouldn’t need to rely on vitamins for your nutrient intake at all. There are healthy, delicious foods that contain all the nutrients you need.