A NFM’s secret shopper visited a natural products store in the Midwest and asked a sales associate: “Are gummy vitamins beneficial, or are they really just candy?”

Here’s what played out.

Store: Well, they’re kind of both. They taste delicious while also delivering nutrients. But you can’t pack as many vitamins and minerals into a gummy as you can into a more compressed tablet or capsule, so you have to eat more gummies to get the same amount.

NFM: So what’s the advantage?

Store: The upside is that a lot of people don’t like swallowing pills, so gummies are a tasty way to get their vitamins. They’re getting extra sugar too, but it may be worth it if they wouldn’t take vitamins otherwise.

How did this retailer do?

Our expert educator: Ruth Ann Clayton, RD, owner of Nature’s Way, The Health Food Store on the Square in Mountain Home, Arkansas.

The retailer is correct about gummy vitamins being beneficial for both children and adults and a good alternative for people who dislike or lack the ability to swallow tablets or capsules. If chosen carefully, gummies can be an effective way to supplement.

However, using the term candy, or even treat, isn’t a good idea because it may promote overconsumption, especially among children. Also, the extra sugar the retailer mentions is a little misleading. Instead of grouping all gummies together, it’s more valuable to teach shoppers to scan product labels for the amount of sugar present. On average, most contain 2 to 4 grams of sugar and 8 to 16 calories per two gummies, a not-so-high amount. Also should be noted any artificial sweeteners, colors or flavorings, as well as preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup, glucose or sucrose syrups. Also some dentists prefer pectin over gelatin because pectin doesn’t stick to teeth.

Overall, the main point retailers should make is that not all gummy vitamins are the same. They vary widely in ingredients, serving amounts and nutrient content. Teach customers to read labels so they can understand whether a gummy they’re considering meets their needs.

Ruth Ann Clayton, Registered Dietitian, is active in both the American Dietetics Association and Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine Dietetic Practice Group. Her nationally accredited Dietetic Internship and her years of experience in public health and hospital settings reflect her commitment to your health and well being.

As the co-owner of Nature’s Way, she uses her comprehensive background to research products, read labels, investigate manufacturers and provide information for her customers.