Do Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies Actually Have Health Benefits?
If you're considering adding apple cider vinegar gummies to your diet, here's what you should know about the supplements.
In recent years, the wellness world has become seemingly obsessed with apple cider vinegar. So much so that you can find ACV as pre-packaged shots, bottled drinks, and, now, chewable fruity gummies. Goli Apple Cider Vinegar Gummy Vitamins were some of the first to hit the scene in late 2019, and today, the product continues to sell like hotcakes on Amazon, with over 215,000 reviews. Numerous other brands (such as Orphic Nutrition and WellPath) have also released their own versions of these squishy supplements that contain ACV.
Generally, companies claim that their apple cider vinegar gummies boast benefits such as weight loss and increased energy. But are the little chewables really as sweet (pun intended) as they sound? Read on for a deep dive into the health claims of apple cider vinegar gummies. (Related: How to Pick the Best Multivitamin for You)
What Are the Purported Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies?
Currently, "there's no peer-reviewed research on apple cider vinegar gummies," says Alice Figueroa, M.P.H., R.D.N., registered dietitian and founder of Alice in Foodieland. There is, however, some research on the benefits of apple cider vinegar itself.
As for how much ACV is actually in these trendy treats? Some brands — such as Nature's Truth Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies or WellPath Pure Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies, for example — have only 400-500mg of ACV per two-gummy serving. Goli's gummies are on the higher side: One serving (two gummies) contains about 1,000 mg of ACV, which the company upholds is equivalent of one shot (a few tablespoons) of ACV. Technically, 1000mg is only equivalent to 1mL, and studies on ACV typically involve much more of the liquid; for example, this 2018 study on the weight loss effects of ACV had participants drinking 30mL a day for 12 weeks (more on this study below). All that said, the exact amount of ACV you're truly getting in a gummy is hard to say — and even with a definite dose, the benefits aren't guaranteed.
Ahead, registered dietitians give the lowdown on the potential benefits of ACV and how they apply to ACV gummies — if at all.
Oftentimes, ACV gummies are promoted as a digestive remedy. This stems from the reputed digestive benefits of liquid ACV, which is said to ease digestive woes such as gas, acid reflux, and indigestion, says Figueroa. The reason? As a fermented product, ACV contains live probiotics (aka beneficial microorganisms) that support gut health, explains Alison Acerra, M.S., R.D.N., registered dietitian and founder of Strategic Nutrition Design. These probiotics come from the ACV's "mother," or the bacterial and yeast culture used to ferment apple cider into vinegar, notes Figueroa. (The mother is the stringy, cloudy stuff in a bottle of ACV.) ACV also contains pectin, a fiber found in fruits such as apples, according to Acerra. Pectin is a prebiotic, meaning it promotes the growth of friendly gut bacteria, according to an article in the journal Nutrients. The growth of "good" gut bacteria can play a role in helping you avoid both temporary and chronic digestive issues.
But despite these components, research hasn't granted ACV the title of a digestive cure-all. Not only are the digestive benefits of ACV mostly anecdotal, but its probiotic content actually isn't significant, says Figueroa. With that in mind, if you want to eat probiotics for gut health, your best bet is to eat probiotic-rich foods (such as kefir or yogurt) instead of ACV or ACV supplements (which include gummies and pills), she says. Besides, any bacteria present in ACV would be destroyed by the gummy manufacturing process, according to Kelly Plowe, M.S., R.D., registered dietitian and founder of Mood Lift Foods. Heat is required to make gummies and heat kills bacteria, she explains. As for the prebiotics in ACV gummies? The amount found in one or two gummies isn't enough to provide notable effects either, adds Plowe. "You're better off eating whole food sources of prebiotics such as bananas, oats, and [whole] apples." (You can also drink probiotics by sipping on some tepache.)
Detox the Body
Spend enough time perusing the virtual aisles on Amazon and you'll notice that many ACV gummies promise to "detox" and "cleanse" the body. But here's the thing: Your body can do that on its own thanks to a sophisticated built-in detoxification system that works around the clock, according to registered dietitian Alyssa Northrop, M.P.H., R.D., L.M.T. Organs such as your liver, kidneys, digestive system, lungs, and skin "detox" your body every time you go number one and number two, sweat, and breathe, she explains.
What's more, most products "touted as 'detoxifying' don't tell you exactly what they claim to remove and have no scientific proof as to whether they're effective," adds Northrop. "The best way to 'detox' is to take care of your body's own incredibly efficient detoxification system" via healthy habits, such as prioritizing sleep and limiting alcohol, she says. (Related: 10 Simple, Healthy Ways to Detox Your Body)
Aid Weight Loss
Apple cider vinegar — and its gummy counterparts — are often marketed as weight-loss aids. But, according to Figueroa, there's limited scientific proof that ACV promotes weight loss at all. "Most of the weight-loss claims [of apple cider vinegar] stem from animal studies," she explains. (A 2016 study, for example, found that ACV prevents obesity in rats.) Such animal studies have linked acetic acid, the main component of ACV, to reduced fat storage and improved metabolism — but these effects don't necessarily apply to humans, explains Figueroa. (Related: I Tried An Apple Cider Vinegar Cleanse Gave Me Abs...and an Awful Stomach Ache)
And the human studies that do exist have limitations. For instance, a 2009 study of 10 people "found that drinking 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar every day for three months was associated with losing 2 to 4 pounds," says Figueroa. A 2018 study of 39 people also found that sipping ACV can increase satiety and supports weight loss when combined with a low-calorie diet. But "these studies are small and the results don't represent a wide segment of the population," notes Figueroa. The verdict: There isn't enough compelling research to classify ACV as a weight loss intervention, she says. And even if ACV (in tandem with a regular exercise routine and healthy diet) could help weight loss, it's hard to confidently say whether ACV gummies — and the small amount of ACV inside — would have the same effects.
Some ACV gummies are fortified with vitamin B12, giving brands an excuse to claim that the chewables can increase energy levels. (ICYDK, vitamin B12 is necessary for energy production in the body, notes Acerra.) But there's a catch: Taking "vitamin B12 will improve energy — but only if you're deficient in the nutrient," explains Plowe. Even then, B12 deficiency isn't a one-size-fits-all condition, and there's no one definition as to what a B12 deficiency constitutes. That said, symptoms typically include tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, among others, according to the National Institutes of Health. So, if you think you're low on B12 (which is more likely to occur in vegans or vegetarians as B12 is mostly found in meat) or feel especially fatigued, Acerra recommends consulting a doctor rather than going ham on ACV gummies. (Related: Why B Vitamins Are the Secret to More Energy)
Another common claim about ACV gummies is that they can improve your skin. This stems from the notion that the probiotics in ACV support gut health, explains Acerra — and a healthy gut has been linked to healthy skin. Additionally, ACV gummies that are fortified with vitamin B12 could technically help improve a B12 deficiency, which is associated with skin conditions such as hyperpigmentation, notes Acerra. But as mentioned earlier, ACV gummies aren't a reliable source of probiotics, and the B12 in fortified gummies only helps if you're really, truly deficient (something that's hard to determine). And, the cherry on top, there also isn't any solid science that proves consuming ACV or ACV gummies improves skin health, according to Acerra.
The trendy treats are also frequently marketed as "immune support" supplements, allegedly due to their pectin content. Pectin strengthens the gut lining and promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria, according to a 2020 study. The stronger gut lining and increase in "good" bacteria can add up to a healthier gut, which is crucial for a healthy immune system, says Plowe. (Your gut lining is also the core of your immune system, and it defends you against viruses, harmful bacteria, etc.) But, ICYMI earlier, ACV gummies don't contain a ton of pectin to begin with — plus, the only studies available on ACV and immunity involve animals (not humans), such as this 2017 study on fish.
Enhance Heart Health
And then there are those ACV gummies that say they can support heart health. But science isn't too sure about that statement. There's some human research (such as this 2018 study) that suggests ACV may help lower blood pressure, increase HDL "good" cholesterol, and reduce triglyceride levels (i.e. major risk factors for heart disease) — all because of the elixir's acetic acid, explains Plow. That being said, the research is still limited and studies that have found a link between acetic acid and heart health involved a lot of acetic acid. For instance, an older 2009 study involved "doses of acetic acid [between] 750 to 1,500 milligrams," says Plowe. "Many ACV gummies only have about 25 milligrams [each]." Translation: You'd need to eat about 30 gummies to get the amount of acetic acid in the study, she explains, which isn't exactly practical.
Pros of Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies
Regardless of whether or not any of the apple cider vinegar gummies benefits listed above are real, ACV gummies do have some unquestionable advantages. Compared to the liquid stuff, ACV gummies are convenient and travel-friendly — a big win if you want to take ACV on the go. And whereas liquid ACV has a strong, sour taste and smell that can make some folks gag, ACV gummies often boast a sweet apple flavor that's even been described as "delicious" by product reviewers.
The actual experience of taking gummies may be safer, too. Since liquid ACV is super acidic, it can damage your teeth, throat, and esophagus — especially if you have esophagitis or acid reflux, says Figueroa. There's a lower risk of damage if you take ACV gummies, as there isn't direct exposure to the ACV's acidity, she explains. (Related: Your Apple Cider Vinegar Habit May Be Ruining Your Teeth)
Cons of Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies
Aside from the fact that there's currently zero peer-reviewed research on ACV gummies, the supplements (and dietary supplements in general) aren't reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration for safety or efficacy, says Northrop. When you buy supplements of any kind, Northrop recommends picking a product that's third-party certified to ensure that it actually contains the ingredients it claims to have. This indicates that an independent party tested the supplement to ensure that what's on the label is actually what's inside and that it's not contaminated. (Related: Are Dietary Supplements Really Safe?)
Regularly taking ACV gummies can also cost a pretty penny. Depending on the brand and retailer, one bottle of apple cider vinegar gummies (~60 gummies) can set you back about 15 to 20 bucks. The typical serving size is one or two gummies, so if you buy a bottle of 60 chewables and take two a day, you'd finish the entire bottle in one month. Over time, the cost of repeatedly buying the supplement will add up — so it's worth considering if a daily ACV gummy regimen realistically fits within your budget, says Figueroa.
Without any specific research or FDA regulation, it's difficult to say for sure if taking ACV gummies has any short-term or long-term risks, according to Figueroa. But here's what's for certain: ACV gummies, like other gummy supplements, may be a source of unnecessary added sugars, says Figueroa. These sugars can be found as various ingredients, including "cane sugar, tapioca syrup, syrup, glucose, glucose syrup, or artificial sweeteners such as sugar alcohols," shares Northrop. For context, "most ACV gummies contain between 1 to 4 grams of sugar per serving," explains Northrop. "That's [about] 16 percent of the recommended daily sugar intake limit for women, according to the American Heart Association." ACV liquid on its own contains just .06 grams of sugar per tablespoon, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And while these ingredients give gummies their sweet flavor, they can also increase your blood sugar levels, she adds. Avoiding spikes in your blood sugar is key for maintaining sustainable energy in general, but watching your blood sugar is extra important to note if you have prediabetes, diabetes, or blood sugar issues. So chat with your doc before hopping on the ACV gummy train.
Since the research on ACV gummies is lacking, it's unknown if they interfere with prescription medications or other supplements. To stay safe, Figueroa suggests checking with your doctor to make sure the supplements you're taking, including ACV gummies, don't interfere with each other or prescription meds.
Should You Take Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies?
Ultimately, there's not enough evidence to support using straight ACV as a nutritional supplement. There's also no recommended dosage for its health claims, says Figueroa, and, ICYMI above, there currently aren't any studies on the claims or purported benefits of apple cider vinegar gummies. "If there's little to no evidence to support taking the supplement, then perhaps there's no need to consume it," suggests Figueroa. Consider saving your hard-earned cash and skipping the ACV gummies. (Related: 7 Reasons You Should Consider Taking a Supplement)
Still want to try them? Talk to your doc, then make an informed decision from there. If you want to add ACV to your diet without taking gummies, try using it as a recipe ingredient instead of a nutritional supplement. Liquid ACV is "excellent for making vinaigrettes, salad dressings, and vegan baked goods," says Figueroa. This way, you can expose yourself to its potential health benefits without shelling out on gummies or taking shots of vinegar.