Should You Really Be Taking a Flavored Vitamin Supplement?
There’s something about a yummy vitamin that makes you wonder, “Is this really legit?” Because truly healthy, scientifically tested supplements and medications should be capsules or horse pills you swallow with water. Vitamins that taste decent are loaded with sugar and fillers. Only children’s medicines should be flavored because adults should be willing and able to swallow something even if it tastes horrible or doesn’t taste at all.
Geez. Do adults really have to give up ALL the good stuff?
Not necessarily...but there is an amount of truth to all of that about the flavoring. Gummy vitamins, which have seen a huge increase in popularity over the last several years, do, according to Zhaoping Li, a professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Clinical Nutrition at the University of California, Los Angeles, contain gelatin and“...often have other things in it — glucose or glucose syrup. They often have to add food coloring. And citric acid to keep it stable.”
And, in many cases, vitamin supplements that do have flavorings added simply list them as “natural flavors.” If that seems like a vague label, it’s because it is.
- Fruit or fruit juice
- Vegetables or vegetable juice
- Edible yeast, herbs, bark, buds, root leaves or plant material
- Dairy products, including fermented products
- Meat, poultry or seafood
Now, if they’re doing things right, a vitamin producer will note on the label if a product may contain shellfish, dairy, or eggs, because of allergies. But even without allergy issues, it’s nice to know exactly where your flavorings come from. Just one natural flavor can contain 50 to 100 ingredients and yet it's still described as "natural blueberry flavor.” To be fair, that doesn’t mean anyone is intentionally keeping you in the dark regarding the ingredients; most vitamin supplements already struggle with fitting all of the required information on the label, let alone adding 50 more ingredients. Even the eyes of the most conscientious consumer would glaze over.
Artificial flavors must be worse, right?
Not always, because not everything that occurs naturally is meant to be ingested. Ora Organic concisely describes flavor being classified as "natural" or "artificial" as a qualification of source alone.
- Natural blueberry flavor is extracted (in a lab) from a real, live blueberry that was plucked, from a real, live blueberry bush.
- An artificial blueberry flavor begins and ends its life in a laboratory - it's made to taste like blueberry through an amalgamation of man-made aroma and flavor chemicals that befit a blueberry
In the end, some artificial flavors and natural flavors have remarkably similar (possibly even the exact same) chemical structure. All this to say if you’re going to use a flavored vitamin supplement, aside from allergens and “Generally Recognized As Safe” status with Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there may not be a need to split hairs.
That should make it easier for nearly 40% of people- who have a hard time swallowing pills. If you can’t swallow pills, but you’re also typically advised not to crush them or split a capsule, flavored vitamins are the way to go. If it’s between that or simply not taking your supplement, it’s an easy decision. Allow your vitamins to taste good.
If you’re looking for high quality, potent, absorbable supplement that also tastes good and isn’t loaded with sugars, there really are options. We make the best product we can with the ingredients you need for your health, but we can’t be experts at everything. That’s why we use flavors made by companies that are FEMA GRAS approved--Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association of the United States (yes, there’s an association for that) Generally Recognized As Safe. Ingredients are minimal, tastes are great, and we trust their quality.