By Guest Kim Holmes.
Kim Holmes is a mother, qualified Nutritionist and owner of The Healthy Little B Nutrition + Wellness. Where she is available to support families on their journey to health through consultations, workshops, education and wholefoods. Kim is based in Randwick, Sydney.
I have been wanting to share my thoughts on 'gummies' for a while. What prompted me to do it now was the article by theconversation.com shared by the lovely team at CPR Kids. This went into detail on how these gummy lollies (I will not call them vitamins) are causing major damage to the teeth of young children through their high sugar and food acid content.
As a qualified nutritionist with young children, this really is a hot topic for me. I had a fair idea of what ingredients were in "gummies" and what they looked like but thought it would be a good idea to buy them myself (yes total waste of money) but had to be done to give an accurate analysis and to see how sweet and acidic they really are. And that they are! They basically mimic lollies. I won't be mentioning any brand names but I am sure you have a fair idea of who these big players are - all fancy and colourful at eye level in your local supermarket. So I picked up 2 types; a probiotic choc ball and a gummie fish oil to see where we are at. At first glance, I knew things weren't going to be great...
GUMMIE FISH OIL
These little sugar covered gummies contain 6g of sugar per serve. Putting this into perspective, each little chew your child bites into is about half sugar. In addition to the high amount of sugar, hello food acids. The 2 main food acids in gummies are citric and ascorbic acids; munch on a few of these a day for a long period of time and the teeth start to suffer. In addition, they are fairly chewy, which means little bits of sugar and acids can remain in the teeth.
Do I need to supplement?
So the lovely component in fish oils is Omega 3 (EPA/ DHA) and is a necessary part of your child's diet (as your body cannot produce Omega 3 naturally). Necessary for the development of the brain, nervous system and skin health, I understand why some parents would pick up a bottle of these.
I also get it that many little ones don't love fish, salmon, flaxseeds or sardines but there are ways to get these food items in their diet (home-made fish fingers/ flax meal in smoothies etc) but in some cases, and I do myself, find great benefit in boosting a little omega 3 in the diet of children in terms of a high quality supplement. Choosing a gummie will NOT do this! It may do more harm than good. Better option is to choose a high quality oil that can be swallowed by the teaspoon in one hit. Simple. Easy. Safe.
PROBIOTIC CHOC BALLS
Factors that can disrupt the normal microbiome of the gut are SUGAR, stress, poor diet and many others. While choc probiotic lollies do contain 2 popular strains of probiotics, the amounts are not sufficient and these sweet little lollies are comprised mainly of sugar and other additives. As mentioned above, sugar compromises the tummy, so you get the point! Offer your child probiotic rich foods such as full fat natural yoghurt, sauerkraut, pickled veggies, miso etc. Ok, I get this can be hard, so it is important to talk to a qualified professional about the right probiotics for your family. Most great probiotics are in powdered form that you can easily add to smoothies, water, muesli, yoghurt etc
Do I need to supplement?
I often prescribe different strains of probiotics to my clients (adults and children) for various reasons (gut health, after antibiotic treatment, skin conditions, mental health, immunity and more) which bring about great results. A high quality multi-strain probiotic is always a good idea to take away when you are traveling. But offering chocolate sugary lolly to your child such as these, will not improve their gut symptoms in any way.
What should I be looking for?
First and foremost, a nutritious, fresh, wholefoods diet is where you will be able to meet your child's nutrition requirements. Supplementation definitely has its place but should be under the guidance of qualified practitioner.
In my opinion; any type of "gummie" vitamin/ probiotic/ mineral is not a great addition to your child's diet. When I am giving my children nutrients when in need, I explain to them why. I do not say here have a lolly! There are much better options out there in addition to wholefoods that don't have added sugars, acids and other additives.
Please get in touch if you would like to find out more about which supplement is right for your family.