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    What are Snackable Supplements?

    A person with their open palms holding supplements and an orange.

    The scoop on the latest nutrition trend.

    The supplement industry got the message that food is the best source for vitamins and minerals. Now, they’re offering food-based supplements you can snack on.

    The use of dietary supplements like multivitamins, calcium, omega 3s, herbs and more has been growing for decades. About 45 percent of adults took supplements in the early 1990s, according to surveys by the National Center for Health Statistics. Today, it’s about 60 percent, and the variety of forms that supplements come in is also expanding. If you’re not a fan of popping pills, you can get your vitamins by chewing gummies, drinking liquids, sucking on lozenges—and now, by snacking.

    Snackable supplements are the latest way to get more nutrients, but they may not be the best way for everyone. Here, learn what snackable supplements are and what you need to know before you try them.

    The obvious question is: What are snackable supplements? “Snackable supplements are a new, trendy product that we’ll probably start hearing about more and more,” says registered dietitian Kelsey Rosenbaum, M.S., R.D., L.D.N. “Simply put, they are supplements in food form. They usually resemble familiar foods like bars, power bites or chocolates.”

    Some snackable supplements contain nutrient-dense foods like nuts, seeds, fruits, veggies and seaweed. Others are adding vitamins and minerals to food like chocolate, which uses manufactured products similar to traditional supplements.

    What You Need to Know before Trying Snackable Supplements

    “There’s not a lot of research around these types of supplements yet, so consumers should be cautious,” says Rosenbaum. To help you decide if snackable supplements are right for you, keep these facts in mind.

    Real food offers more benefits than supplements. For instance, oranges don’t just provide vitamin C; they also offer fiber, thiamin, and folate. Snackable supplement companies tout that their products provide more nutrients and are absorbed better than synthetic vitamins since they are made from foods. While this may prove true, there’s currently no evidence to support it. “More research needs to be done to determine the bioavailability of vitamins and minerals in snackable supplements,” says Rosenbaum. In the meantime, to maximize the nutrients you’re getting at every meal, see Eating Right is Just About to Get a Whole Lot Easier.

    Traditional vitamins are cheaper. The cost of snackable supplements ranges from $1 to $5 per serving, while traditional multivitamin supplements are usually less than $0.10 per serving.

    A lack of regulation. Supplements don’t go through the rigorous review process that food and prescription medications do. The FDA doesn’t have the authority to regulate the safety, effectiveness or labeling of dietary supplements, so there’s no guarantee that you’re getting what’s on the label. Products that are classified as supplements must have the word “supplement” on the packaging, so you may see “dietary supplement” on the label or something specific like “iron supplement.” Some snackable supplements, however, may be classified as functional foods and subject to FDA regulation. “If you want to take any type of supplements that aren’t food based, look for products with the NSF or CSP certification seals on the front of the package,” says Rosenbaum. “NSF and USP are third-party verification bodies that conduct in-depth testing and audits that ensure transparency and accuracy of ingredients, potency and good manufacturing practices.”

    Nutrients aren’t harmless. Some vitamins and minerals, like iron, calcium, zinc and vitamins A, D and E, can be toxic in large amounts. It may be easier to take too many flavorful, bite-size snackable supplements than it is if they’re in pill form. And, with vitamins, minerals, herbs and other compounds added to foods and beverages, you could be getting more than you think you are.

    “There are concerns when supplements of any kind contain over 100 percent of the recommended DV, daily value,” says Rosenbaum. “Some traditional and snackable supplements contain over 500 percent of the DV. This means one serving of the supplement provides an exponentially higher amount than the body needs or can use in one day, which can lead to toxicity. High doses of vitamins, minerals, or herbal supplements can also interfere with certain medical conditions and medications.”

    Allergens may be lurking. If you have allergies or food intolerances, proceed with extreme caution. More than 33 million Americans have food allergies, and many of these products contain multiple top allergens like milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soybeans and sesame.

    Reasons to Try Snackable Supplements

    If you want to supplement your diet, these edible offerings have some advantages.

    Convenience. Snackable supplements are a compact, on-the-go option.

    More palatable. Who doesn’t prefer biting into something tasty instead of swallowing pills? Snackable supplements may also be an alternative if the pill form of a supplement causes nausea.

    Offer variety. Some bite-size options are designed to provide nutrients for 20 to 40 calories and won’t fill you up. Others, like bars, provide more nourishment with protein and fiber to satisfy your appetite. These snackable supplements have 140 or more calories.

    It’s important to talk with your doctor before taking any supplements, especially if you have any health problems or take any medications. “While they may be novel, snackable supplements are not necessary for your health,” says Rosenbaum. “Eating a diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains is still the best way to be healthy.”

    For more ways to maximize nutrition, see Healthy Eating Resolutions.

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