If you’re a parent of a picky eater, like I am, you may find it difficult to get your child (or children) to eat the healthiest foods, ones which will give them the complete nutrition they need to grow properly.

You may even go looking for a natural vitamin supplement that will help support your child in getting the complete nutrition they are missing from their fussy eating habits and the lack of healthy foods in their daily diet.   Often times, parents will turn to a gummy vitamin to provide that complete nutrition.  Gummy vitamins provide a simple and delicious delivery form that children will actually enjoy. But, are all gummy vitamins created equal and, most importantly, are they safe?

The Appeal Of Gummy Vitamins

Face it: gummy vitamins are a genius innovation.  Who would have thought you could make such a kid-friendly supplement, full of a day’s worth of complete nutrition, packed into what looks and tastes like a treat?  Kids love gummies!  In fact, kids want to eat more than one or two- perhaps even a handful.  And, that’s why it’s important to make sure your gummy vitamin is safe.

What Makes A Gummy Vitamin Safe And Effective?

You may be wondering why a gummy vitamin could not be safe or effective.  And, the answer lies in one word: ingredients.  Now, we are not talking about corn syrup, artificial colors or artificial flavors.  Mother Nature’s healthy foods don’t contain these man-made nutrients and of course, neither should your child’s gummy vitamin. But the ingredients I am talking about are the specific vitamins and minerals contained in your gummy vitamin and more specifically, IRON.

The Benefits Of Iron In A Healthy Diet

Iron supports an important function within the human body and it helps carry oxygen from the lungs to the muscles and other organs within the body, which in turn helps to maintain healthy red blood cells.*

While every human being needs iron in order to maintain healthy red blood cells, health care professionals agree, the best way to get that much-needed iron is through a healthy diet of foods high in iron,  not through iron supplementation (unless recommended by a physician for a specific acute deficiency).* While the list of iron rich foods may not seem particularly appealing to everyone, specifically children, a healthy diet of foods high in iron is crucial to maintaining healthy red blood cells.*

The Dangers Of Iron

There are several dangers in consuming iron, the most important of which is iron overdose, a leading cause of poisoning death for children under 6.  Iron overdose can kill you.  In addition, iron overdose can irreversibly damage the liver and other vital organs.  Iron overdose is such a threat that many doctors advise against the use of iron in supplements, instead prescribing a healthy diet of foods high in iron.

The Safest Gummy Vitamins And Why

When you look at the label of your gummy vitamin, there’s one thing that should be  missing: iron.

Vitamin companies may omit iron for a couple of different reasons:

  1. Some key nutrients tough to get from food safely, such as Omega 3s from fish oil), are incompatible with iron in a gummy.
  2. The risk of iron overdose in children. (You will notice strong warnings on vitamin bottles that contain high iron levels).  In particular, something that tastes good (like a gummy or chewable) can mean kids sneaking vitamins, which can lead to iron overdose.

Regardless of the reason for the omission, it’s preferable that your gummy vitamin not contain iron, and here’s why: gummy vitamins are a popular choice for children who don’t eat a lot of healthy foods AND because they are kid-friendly. The chewy texture and delicious flavors means kids love eating them.    In fact, a high quality, natural gummy vitamin will taste so delicious, kids will regard them as a treat, much like candy.  And, because they can be viewed as candy, children can inadvertently consume too many.  If your gummy vitamin contains iron and your child consumes too many, a life threatening iron overdose can occur.

What’s The Alternative?

Some may wonder, “if a gummy vitamin is missing iron, how on earth is my child going to get the iron they need to maintain healthy red blood cells?” It isn’t as difficult as you may believe! Through eating healthy foods- foods high in iron!

Here’s a brief list of healthy foods, iron rich foods, to help insure the health of your child’s red blood cells:

  • Cereals fortified with iron
  • Egg yolks
  • Red meat
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Spinach (just like Popeye)
  • Raisins
  • Peanut Butter

Even for the pickiest of eaters, finding healthy foods high in iron doesn’t have to be a challenge.  If your doctor does recommend an iron supplement, we strongly suggest using an iron dropper to simply add to juice or masked in food which will eliminate the risk of overdose.

If you still have questions and concerns about supplementing with iron or about using gummy vitamins which contain iron, please speak with your healthcare professional.

Posted on October 21, 2012