Myth buster: Liposomal functional gummies

You’ve probably guessed that multi-vitamin gummies are the next big nutraceutical trend. We saw that it was all the rage in some of the trade shows that we attended in 2022. We also read market reports that the global functional gummies market valued at 2232.79 million USD in 2020, is set to grow with a CAGR of 5.59% from 2020 to 2027 (1).  

This article is set to explore what gummies are, why they are trending and whether they are worth the hype.  

We all remember gummy bears from our childhood, don’t we? Gummy bears as we knew them were soft, chewable sweets. Recently however, we’ve started seeing them pop up in the aisles of our local supermarkets and pharmacies under the supplements sections.  

Known as functional gummies or nutraceutical gummies, they can contain various vitamins, DHA, omega-3, probiotics or minerals (1).   

This article will explain how gummies are manufactured and why we think this form of liposomal supplementation is not a good idea. 

How are gummies manufactured? 

Traditionally, gummies are mass produced in large batches (2). Tens of thousands are produced at a time.  

The first step in the process is to mix the component ingredients in a large vat. Ingredients may include corn syrup, sugar, water, gelatin or pectin as a thickening/gelling agent, flavourings and colourings. In functional gummies, the required nutrients are also added at this stage. Once the ingredients are mixed, the resulting liquid is cooked until it thickens. The “slurry” is then poured into moulds for shaping and allowed to dry for 24 to 48 hours. 

What are the touted advantages of supplementation in the gummy form? 

Ease of consumption 

Since children are picky eaters, functional gummies were originally sold for this target population as a more “fun” way of consuming supplements (3,4). However, they have enjoyed a recent surge in popularity among adults due to their visual appeal and ease of consumption. 

Cheap form of supplementation 

Gummies are also a very cheap form of supplementation costing between USD 0.05–0.10 per gummy (3).  

Why does PlantaCorp discourage the packaging of liposomal formulations into gummies? 

We have had potential clients ask us if we can manufacture gummies with liposomal nutrients. Having done our due diligence, our resounding answer is “No!”. The reasons for this are: 

  1. Added sweeteners and other additives 
  1. Loss of nutritional value due to cooking 
  1. Inability to regulate per gummy dosage 
  1. Potential risk of overdosage 

Added sweeteners and other additives 

As mentioned in the manufacturing process, a lot of sugar and other sweetening agents are utilized in the manufacture of gummies. For example, one popular variety of children’s multivitamin gummies contains three different types of added sugars. This amounts to 3 grams of sugar per gummy (3). 

Sugar-free gummies often contain sugar alcohols instead, whose overconsumption can lead to diarrhoea, nausea, bloating, and other unwanted digestive symptoms in some people (3). 

Gummies often also contain other additives such as flavouring agents, colouring agents and other filling agents to maintain their visual appeal and texture. 

Loss of nutritional value due to cooking 

As mentioned in the section on how gummies are manufactured, the gummy ingredients need to be cooked in order to achieve a slurry consistency. Cooking results in the loss of the nutritional value of vitamins, minerals and other active ingredients (5).  

Furthermore, cooking also destroys the integrity of liposomes. Liposomes that are not intact cannot increase the bioavailability of nutrients as promised.  

Inability to regulate per gummy dosage 

It is believed that gummies may contain fewer nutrients than consumers are led to believe (3,4). This is because, as outlined above, there are so many ingredients that need to be fitted into one gummy. Further, there is no homogenous distribution of ingredients due to the slurry forming process. The dosage per gummy may therefore vary largely. 

This makes it difficult to give a directive on how many gummies need to be consumed to achieve the recommended daily dose.

Potential risk of overdosage 

Since gummies are so easy to consume and can be addictive, it is possible to overdose with functional gummies. An overdosage of nutrients can in turn lead to several unpleasant side effects such as liver toxicity due to vitamin A overconsumption (6). 

What are the alternatives to gummies? 

A traditional mode of supplementation is any day superior to supplementation through functional gummies. Thus, syrups, capsules or those that come in daily dosage forms such as sachets, are the best way to ensure that one achieves their recommended amount of nutrients.  

Always refer to the instructions on your supplement package to ensure that you do not over or under dose. Also, please consult with your primary care physician before starting on any nutritional regimen.  

Key takeaways

  • The primary reason we think that functional gummies are not an attractive form of supplementation is due to the inability to determine the daily dosage. 
  • The addition of sweeteners, fillers, colouring agents etc. are also reasons why we do not support functional gummies. 
  • Packaging liposomal formulations into gummies is not viable. The gummy production process will destroy the liposomes and the active ingredients contained within them.  

References

  1. 2021-2027 Global and regional functional gummies industry status and prospects professional market research report. 28-Apr-2021. SKU ID: HNY-18133700  
  2. [Online] How are gummies made? UK Gummy Company. Accessed on 08-12-2022. 
  3. [Online] Do Gummy Vitamins Work? The Benefits and Downsides. Healthline. Accessed on 08-12-2022. 
  4. [Online] What to Know About Gummy Vitamins. WebMD. Accessed on 08-12-2022. 
  5. [Online] How Cooking Affects the Nutrient Content of Foods. Healthline Nutrition. Accessed on 14-12-2022. 
  6. Russell RM. The vitamin A spectrum: from deficiency to toxicity. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2000), 71 (4): 878–884. 
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