Nutrition can be an endlessly confusing science, full of contradictory information — Does expensive really mean healthier? Is a vegan diet actually good for you? What does moderation even mean, anyway? — but every so often, you run into a decision that seems like a no-brainer. Like, for example, whether it’s better to satisfy your sweets craving with a handful of gummy vitamins or a handful of actual gummy candy. Both are made pretty much entirely of substances you can’t pronounce, but one is actually good for you. Obviously, you go with the vitamins.
Except: Nope. As writer Katherine Ellen Foley recently explained in Quartz, chewy Flintsones Vitamins and their ilk are more palatable than vitamin pills because they’re loaded with sugar — in some cases, more than actual candy. But that’s still not the biggest problem with guzzling them like a snack:
A little extra sugar probably won’t hurt you. But there are certain micronutrients that can be harmful in high enough quantities. Our bodies can easily get rid of excess vitamins that dissolve in water, like vitamin C, all the B vitamins, and folate, but they hold onto the ones that are fat soluble. Buildup of vitamin A, K, E, or D—all of which are necessary in low levels—can cause problems with your heart and kidneys, and can even be fatal in some cases… If you want a midday sugary pick-me-up, you’re probably better off just treating yourself to some actual gummy bears or chocolate.
In other words, this is another example of a health halo backfiring: Gummy vitamins must be healthy — vitamins! It’s right there in the name! — so you go to town on them, and end up doing something less healthy than if you’d avoided them altogether and just opted for some regular food. (And regular food, incidentally, can also give you all the vitamins you need, sans supplements.) And if this comes as a bummer to gummy-vitamin fans, think of it this way: From a health standpoint, it’s not often that candy is the better of two options. Embrace it.