News

What's really in your gummy supplements? Things you should know

Posted at 6:59 AM, Feb 06, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-06 06:59:49-05

BIRMINGHAM, Mich. (WXYZ) — Vitamins and supplements are almost as American as apple pie. Check out the vitamin aisle at your local pharmacy and the options can be overwhelming. Want better sleep, try melatonin. Need more energy, there’s Vitamin B-1.

“I take vitamin C. Really, for my immune system. I try to strengthen that so I don't get sick as much,” said Rob Krochmal, who’s family uses vitamin supplements.

According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition, almost 75% of American adults take dietary supplements with 55% qualifying as regular users. The growth aided by the explosion of gummy vitamins, popular for their taste and ease. But that is a part of the problem.

“Would you be surprised to know that some gummies actually have as much sugar as candy? 7 Action News asked Lauren Rademacher, a local mom who’s family uses vitamin supplements.

“I would not, because when I try them, they're so tasty and sweet,” said Rademacher said.

“This is how we make medication,” said Pierre Boutros.

Boutros is owner of Mills Pharmacy and Apothecary. He gave 7 Action News a tour of the state-of-the-art compounding facility where they make custom formulation medicine including gummies.

He says gummies can contain up to a third of the recommended maximum sugar intake.

“And that's the downside of it. Again, the additives, sugar, the dye,” Boutros said.

And then there is the potential for overdose. The bright colors and fruity flavor that make gummies popular among kids and adults.

“When kids look at the vitamins or the supplement as candy, they tend to take more than you're supposed to. And this is where, parents have to pay very close attention,” Boutros revealed.

Melatonin is one of the most popular supplements in America. And from 2012-2021 calls to the U.S. Poison Control reported pediatric consumption of melatonin skyrocketed more than 500%.

Another sticky issue with gummies. They degrade faster than traditional pills and capsules and become less potent over time. To compensate, manufacturers may infuse gummy supplements for more of the key ingredient.

We reached out to Dr. Varun Vohra, a board-certified clinical toxicologist and director of the Michigan Poison & Drug Information Center.

In a statement, Dr. Vohra cites a study of 25 melatonin gummy brands that found most products were inaccurately labeled and could expose users to a dose 40-130 times higher than necessary to produce intended effects.

So what can you do to avoid the pitfalls of gummies?

  • Choose gummies manufactured by reputable retailers and are third-party tested. look for a certification stamp.
  • Choose a brand low in sugar and additive free.
  • Stick to the recommended dosage.
  • Keep all supplements, including gummies out of reach of kids.

“But make sure you keep it stored… and treat it as a medicine,” Boutros said.

Another option is to have a compounding pharmacy like Mills make the supplement for you. It sounds expensive, but when we asked, Pierre says it's not much more expensive than the pre-package versions on store shelves.

So who’s watching all these gummy supplements? Dietary supplements are regulated by the FDA as food, not as drugs or medicine, and a result, it's a lower standard.

And much of FDA’s role begins after supplements hit the store shelves.