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Homemade Chewable Gummy Vitamins

Homemade gummy vitamins - quick and super-easy!

Making your own chewable vitamins may seem like one of those things that is just too far out there to do at home. I assure you, however, it’s actually one of the easiest DIY projects you could ever tackle.

Like seriously – it takes 5-10 minutes, tops. And the hardest part is scraping the thick, viscous honey off the spoon. You can do this!

Also, by making your own chewable vitamins, you have complete control over your ingredient list, thus avoiding high-fructose corn syrup, aspartame, the seemingly ubiquitous “natural flavors,” and synthetic colors and dyes that often lurk in store-bought versions.

Plus, you can save a pretty penny. My last batch cost $3.91 to make – and it was that high only because I was very heavy-handed with the expensive probiotics I sneaked into the batch. That batch made 20 pieces, enough to dose three kids for two days with the amount of Vitamin C and probiotics that I wanted to give them. Obviously, your final cost and dosage will vary according to whatever supplement you add to the gummy base.

For those who are interested, here’s my cost breakdown:

Juice – $0.15 (a store-bought berry blend – freshly juiced is far better)
Gelatin – $0.46 (grass-fed beef, certified kosher)
Honey – $0.30 (purchased from our local apiary)
Supplements (Vitamin C powder and probiotics) – $3

I sometimes use other supplements, as well, depending on my family’s needs: a multivitamin, a calcium/magnesium supplement, or a few drops of a homemade tincture, such as echinacea, elderberry, or the herbal blend we use for our homemade cough drops – the supplements are totally optional and totally up to you. I’d like to try cod liver oil someday, but I have my doubts about the success of that venture….

 

Homemade gummy vitamins - quick and easy! from NourishingJoy.com

 

A Word About Gelatin

It should be noted as well, that gelatin is not just the coagulant here, but a highly prized ingredient in its own right.

According to Dr. F.M. Pottenger in his article, “Hydrophilic Colloid Diet,” gelatin is an essential aid to digestion by “keeping the gastric mucosa in excellent condition.”

He further mentions that gelatin helps food gel within the stomach for more consistent digestion and reduces heartburn, ulcers, and acid reflux by binding acids with the foods.

Gelatin is also essential to heal and seal the gut where nutrients are absorbed into the body, aids liver function, and it provides a tremendously high percentage of protein and minerals per gram, which is certainly a boon for most growing children and pregnant women! Nathan R. Gotthoffer’s book, “Gelatin in Nutrition and Medicine,” is a fascinating read about the myriad ways gelatin functions within the digestive system.

And as usual, quality matters – most of the gelatin powders we find on the market are made from the hides of feedlot pigs and are created at a very high temperature, which can turn the gelatin acidic and bitter. (I remember one batch of marshmallows I made that smelled like death itself and I finally realized the culprit was the gelatin. Gack.)

However, if you can source grass-fed, 100% beef gelatin that is processed at the lowest temperature possible, the vitamin and mineral content will be much higher, as well as your ethical conscience will be assuaged – heh.

(I get asked A LOT about recommended brands for gelatin, so due to the sheer popularity of the question, I’m including my recommendations as part of this post. This gelatin and this gelatin are both excellent. This one is 100% beef like the others, but I haven’t been able to verify its source or the method of its processing. To my knowledge, none of these are available outside of the United States, so buying online may be the only option.)

But aside from all of that postulatin’ and gesticulatin’, these homemade chewable vitamins are just a great vehicle for getting supplements into your kids – they’re basically gummy bears or gummy worms or gummy stars and your kids will gobble them up as fast as you allow.

 Homemade gummy vitamins - quick and easy! from NourishingJoy.com

Homemade Chewable Gummy Vitamins

You can certainly make these as a daily vitamin, but I tend to make them mostly when my kiddos are ill and I want to give them mega-doses of something they need: probiotics, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, etc. It makes healing fun and levels the complaints about taking medicine nearly to nil. Score one for Mommy!

1/3 cup juice – any fruit or vegetable juice except pineapple will gel and the sweeter the better for balancing all the flavors
2 tablespoons honey
6 teaspoons gelatin
additives: liquid multi-vitamins, probiotics, mineral supplement – the more concentrated, the better

Place the juice and honey in a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over. Let stand 2-3 minutes.

Place pan over very low heat and heat until gelatin is completely dissolved, 5-6 minutes. The liquid should be just slightly warm to the touch.

Stir in any supplements, then pour immediately into candy molds or a shallow pan. Set aside at room temperature for 2-3 hours or place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes  to gel, then remove, cut into squares if necessary, and store at room temperature for 1-2 weeks.

 

Tips & Suggestions

Juice: In this recipe, I used a store-bought juice blend, but you could use other liquids too: kombucha, herbal syrups, or coconut water, for example. Also, home-juiced juices will provide greater vitamin bio-availability and you can be much more creative with your flavors if you juice it yourself. Strawberry/golden raspberry, anyone? Or pure blueberry? Or even carrot/orange/mango! Use whatever flavors you and your kids crave to create a gummy you love!

Molds: The easiest mold is just a bread pan or – if you double the recipe – a square cake pan. Once it’s firm, you can just peel it out and cut it into pieces. However, it’s very fun, too, to use candy molds. In the pictures above, we used star and rose molds, but any candy mold design you can find is fair game.

 

(Sources: “Hydrophilic Colloid Diet,” Dr. F.M. Pottenger // Gelatin in Nutrition and Medicine, Nathan R. Gotthoffer // Gut and Psychology Syndrome, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride)

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Comments

  1. mary seus says

    Hi Kresha and Nourishing Joy: I really enjoy your intermittent emails. The links are fantastic too. It’s Mary from Vancouver BC. I am trying to get my voice back and am going to. I may have to look up the cough syrup recipe. Have a great spring, Kresha and collaborators. Mary S.

  2. says

    Kresha,

    This idea is creative and economical. What I am concerned about is the use of vitamins for adults and children. Our bodies are designed to take in food, not man made vitamins. Unless a person is diagnosed with a deficiency, it is not appropriate to administer isolated fractionated vitamin supplements. A great deal of research indicates that vitamins can do more harm than good. Instead, supplementing with a whole food supplement like Juice Plus is supported by research and utilized and endorsed by well-respected medical professionals around the world. Juice Plus has a delicious gummy that is reasonably priced and offered at no charge to qualifying families. You can’t get more smart or economical than that!

    • Kresha says

      Thank you for letting us know about your company. How would “qualifying families” go about contacting Juice Plus? Would you please leave a link or further info for our families in need? Thanks!

      You are absolutely right that we need to take in our vitamins via food, not in macronutrient, man-made form or even supplements in whole food form. That is why I stress in this article that these gummies are great when your child is in NEED of a supplement, such as when I recently needed my toddler to receive a mega-dose of probiotics for a few days. :-)

      • Cynthia says

        In order to qualify, an adult has to purchase a years worth of Juice Plus. And only one child can have the free product per adult in the home.

  3. Harriet Russell says

    I’m a vegetarian and use agar agar instead of gelatin. Seems I’m missing out on a lot of benefits! However, The Cook’s Thesaurus says:”Agar, like gelatin, is full of protein (though incomplete), but it also contains the rich array of minerals one would expect from seaweed.” Maybe it has some of the same gut-healing properties of gelatin, too. I hope so.

    • Harriet Russell says

      I know, I’m replying to myself, but there doesn’t seem to be an edit option here. …I just took a quick look at the Pottenger site, (apparently a raw food proponent), and it says: “Certain colloids will withstand more heat than others; for instance, cellulose of vegetable origin and certain pectins will stand a greater temperature without being precipitated than the proteins of animal origin.” So maybe agar agar actually does an even better job of protecting mucosa than gelatin.

    • Kresha says

      Yes, but $45 of that $58 is the expensive probiotics I used specifically in that batch. The gummies themselves at the cost listed above are only about $13 per month for all three kids – the remaining cost just depends on what you choose to add in.

    • ( jason ) says

      I know, sticker shock, right?

      But, let’s say it works and prevent your 3 kids from getting nasty colds and ear infections. What’s the value of that? Three 3 visits to the quick care @ $70 each, prescription costs for antibiotics @ $5-25 each, and some used up sick days adds up pretty quick.

      In my experience, any multivitamin worth it’s weight, starts at $30 for a 1 month supply.

  4. Amydmomma says

    Hello! I need lots of advice, but my first question is where could I find gelatin that is beef free? My son has an allergy to beef. I am assuming that means all forms of it. I am also trying to heal his body from all of his known allergies by avoiding them for at least 6 months, and here is the list: dairy, bananas, grapefruit, all forms of sugar (honey and beet sugar are ok) and beef. I am trying to have the Easter Bunny make healthy options to bring all our kids Easter morning. I thought that a gummy would be a good way to sneak in nutrition and love the molds I could use to make them more fun. Tanks in advance for any help.

    • Kresha says

      Amydmomma,

      Well, standard grocery-store gelatin is beef-free, as it’s porcine (made entirely from pork). Also, another commenter mentioned agar-agar, which is a gelling agent made from seaweed and which creates a firmer gel than gelatin. I haven’t used it much or researched its health effects, so I can’t give much information other than I know it certainly works as an effective gelling agent. :)

      Out of curiosity, why is beet sugar okay but cane sugar is not? Typically it’s far easier to find less refined cane sugar than it is minimally refined beet sugar (I don’t know of any, in fact) – and I would imagine (obviously, not knowing your son’s situation) that minimally refined would be very important in his healing. I’m very curious.

      • Amydmomma says

        Thanks for the feedback! You know, I am not sure why that came up on his allergy test. It listed several artificial sweeteners and cane sugar as to what he is allergic too. Beet sugar was an alternative the dr recommended to replace all the other sugars. Local raw honey was her first choice for us to use.

        By the way, I am loving all of our recipes and try making at least one new thing every week! Thanks for all you do!

        • Kresha says

          Aw, thanks for your kind encouragement.

          That’s very interesting about your sons allergies – thanks for indulging my curiosity. I hope the raw honey does wonders! :-)

          • Amydmomma says

            What do you think about using xylitol as a sugar substitute in general? a friend of mine suggested it, and it tastes pretty good.

          • Kresha says

            Well, from the various research I’ve done, at this point in time I’m okay using it in toothpaste (as discussed over on the how to make toothpaste thread), but I’m not okay with it as an ingested sweetener. It’s highly refined, it’s usually made from corn (even though it originally was made from birch sap) that is likely genetically modified, and as Crunchy Betty points out, it’s not nearly as “natural” as it’s touted to be.

            It’s a very contentious issue, though, so you’ve asked a great question. If you’d like to do more research but don’t know where to start, Granny’s Vital Vittles hosts a search engine that searches only real food sites, so if you do a “xylitol” search there, you’ll come up with a number of posts that might be helpful.
            :)

    • HisGal says

      AndyMomma, while there are options for getting xylitol in it’s original form (birch), there is a side effect when ingesting more than a teaspoon at a time that can cause some pretty severe stomach cramps followed by a run to the bathroom :(… Didn’t discover this until AFTER putting it in my DH coffee. After researching this a bit more it seems to be a common side effect.

  5. Emmalee says

    Kresha,

    I have recently gathered all of the supplies to make this vitamin recipe, but I am nervous because I am using an adult liquid called “Centrum”. Though I talked to the pharmacist and she said that I would be alright to use for my kids (7 yr twins and my 9 yr old) as long as a 1/2 or 1/4 the dosage labeled on the bottle, but your recipe doesn’t say what I good dosage is to start with. What would you suggest?

    • Kresha says

      Emmalee,

      I didn’t specify a dosage merely because brands and products vary widely. In this case, I would just do a bit of mathematics:

      Let’s say the adult dosage on your bottle is 1 tsp, so the child’s dosage is 1/4 tsp.

      And let’s say that you want your children to eat 2 gummies to get their full dosage. That means you want each gummy to have 1/8 tsp of the liquid vitamin.

      The recipe above makes approximately 5/8 cup of liquid, which when poured into a flat container like a small loaf pan, is easily cut into 16 pieces. (I usually get between 14-16 pieces in my candy molds as well.)

      So, if your total number of pieces is going to be 16 and you want 1/8 tsp in each gummy, then you need to add 2 tsp of the Centrum into the recipe. Just be sure to stir it well and cut the pieces as uniformily as possible once it’s firm.

      As an alternative, if you want to know EXACTLY how much is in each gummy, you could use candy molds, pour exactly 1/8 tsp into each hole, then pour your gelatin mixture over. I haven’t tried it this way, so I’m assuming that it would gel everything uniformily, but that’s merely an educated guess. :)

      So, does that help? I’m sure your kiddos will LOVE the gummies regardless! :)

      Good luck and have fun!

    • Kresha says

      Other readers have suggested agar agar as a gelling agent. I don’t know its nutritional properties, but it certainly works well to create a firm gel!

  6. Amy says

    I think this question is similar to another question…but I have been using store bought vitamin gummies for my kids. This sounds like such a better way to go. I looked at the Juice Plus option, but the cheapest I could find it was $80 for a two month supply. I just can’t afford to pay $40 a month for each of my children to get vitamins. SO…my question is this…how much of a store bought liquid multivitamin could I use before it wouldn’t gel?

    • Kresha says

      Well, actually, if you’re using a liquid multivitamin instead of a powdered supplement (like probiotics), you could just figure out your total liquid amount calculating the amount of vitamin first, then add in juice to make up the difference and then it will gel firmly regardless of how much vitamin you add.

      For example, if your brand of multivitamin calls for 1 tsp in a serving, there are 16 teaspoons in 1/3 cup, so to make each gummy equal to 1 serving, use exclusively the multivitamin with the gelatin. Or do half vitamin and half juice and give your children each two gummies. Either way, just measure the liquid multivitamin first.

      The only consideration will be taste! :)

      Thanks for a great question.

  7. Deborah says

    I have not been able to find the beef gelatin anywhere. All I can come across is the Agar.

    Can you please tell me where you buy yours? Thanks!

  8. Dorothea says

    Thanks for this. I made these with my son (11) today. He loves them, and they were so easy to make. He enjoyed crushing the vitamin C tablets with a pestle and mortar. I think the clean-up of the juicer took the longest… :) We used molds from an old Christmas calender, which added to the fun.

    • Kresha says

      Well, yes, it’s possible, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it – for two reasons:

      1. Unless you use exactly one vitamin pill for each gummy, the dosage you receive will be rather a guess, and that could be dangerous if you’re eating multiple gummies or if you take other medications.

      2. Unless you grind it extremely finely, it wouldn’t necessarily taste good or have a nice texture. Thus, I recommend using a liquid multi-vitamin if possible.

      That said, yes, you certainly CAN grind up a vitamin pill and add it in, but in that case I would recommend using a mold of some sort so that you can grind one pill per opening in the mold and then you know exactly how much you’re getting.

      I hope that helps!

  9. Pamela says

    I cannot wait to try this! Does the amount of liquid vits, etc. matter with this balance of other ingredients? I would like to add a whole foods liquid vitamin, probiotic and elderberry syrup. Too much? Amm I being too greedy?

    • Kresha says

      The only ratio that matters is the amount of liquid to gelatin, and any of the supplements you mentioned would count toward that. So if you really want to use all three of those things together, I would skip the fruit juice all together (or nearly so) and just use the elderberry syrup as your base (depending on taste, of course).

      The only other thought I have, though, is will any of those items counteract each other? I’m not a herbalist or a naturopath, so I’m not sure. You might want to check with someone a bit more knowledgeable first, just to make sure you’re getting the most efficient and beneficial effect of each ingredient.

      Have fun!

    • Kresha says

      I haven’t tried it, but I think so! To my knowledge, pineapple is the only fruit with enzymes that prevent a firm gel.

      Good luck!

  10. Cindy B says

    I didn’t read all the comments but my main concern would be determining the correct dosage of the vitamins once it was processed in this way. It could done mathematically but that would also require some precision in the cutting process (and our pouring if using molds).

    • Kresha says

      Yes, you are exactly right and I’ve given a few examples of how to do that in a few of the other comments. Vitamins and supplements shouldn’t be given lightly – or in incorrect doses, especially to children! :-)

  11. Amy says

    I LOVE this idea!! I currently give my kids (5 and 9) the Disney gummy vitamins from the store and would really prefer a healthier option for them. Or even, as you stated, an easier way to get them to take meds when they’re sick. The molds I have are silicone ice molds from the Target Dollar Spot. One is small apples and the other is a raspberry.

    I just made some elderberry syrup – have no idea how it tastes – and some unflavored kombucha (that neither will drink). I would LOVE to figure out a way to make two kinds of gummies – with the elderberry syrup for its benefits, and with the kombucha as the probiotic. Do you have any suggestions for flavoring for the kombucha ones? I don’t really buy juice at the store but every so often. Is there a good one that would completely mask the flavor of the bucha?

    In the meantime, I’m desperately searching for a recipe for rootbeer flavored kombucha so that there’s at least a possibility that my 9-year-old very picky son would try it. I also think if it was sweeter, that my daughter would drink it. Maybe fruit flavors or something.

    • Kresha says

      I love the idea of strawberry shaped molds – cute!

      As for flavoring the kombucha ones, I think in order to have good ratios, rather than using both kombucha and juice, it would be easier to flavor the kombucha itself, so for example, rather than using blueberry juice, crush up a few blueberries and put them in the kombucha for a day or two. But perhaps others have some good ideas to share. Anyone?

      Hmm….. and root beer flavored kombucha. Actually, I think I have a recipe!!! Let me test drive it and I’ll post it when it’s ready. :-)

  12. Kate Brinkley says

    Hi! I am wanting to switch from my son’s current multivitamin to using your homemade version. My concern is that the primary reason we take a MV is to ensure my son receives sufficient iron (he was on the low side at his 2 year check up), and being a typical two year old, it’s hard to make sure he gets enough iron through his diet.

    I am hesitant to just add an iron supplement because I don’t want to overdose him. Any suggestions? I wondered about possibly adding some spinach juice, but not sure how much of the iron would remain after juicing and preparing the vitamin. Also, I worry it would make the vitamins taste a little off. I would appreciate any advice you can provide!

    • Kresha Faber says

      Skip these gummy vitamins and feed him liver. :-) Seriously. If you’re worried about overdosing with a synthetic form of iron, then give him lots of iron-rich foods. My kiddos LOVE pate, but if your son isn’t so sure, then slip it into chili, into Christmas mincemeat, and other flavorful foods – you can definitely hide it. The spinach you mentioned is excellent too.

      Pate (my kids are especially fond of the beef one): http://nourishingjoy.com/three-pates-to-satisfy-every-palate/
      Chili with liver: http://nourishingjoy.com/mamas-ultimate-chuckwagon-chili/

      But if you do want to make these gummies, I would recommend deciding exactly how much iron you want him to get, then make these using molds so you can control how much iron is in each gummy. Use a dropper to put exactly that much into each mold (if it’s more than about 10 drops per mold, I would just divide the drops out and dose him with multiple gummies), then pour in the gummy mixture on top. That way you know exactly how much he’s getting and you can control both quantity and flavor.

      A last option would be to have him drink iron-rich water throughout the day. I drank iron water during pregnancy when I was low in iron and it was very helpful. This was the one I took –> http://amzn.to/1bYf9Zk (affiliate)

      I hope that helps at least a little! If I’ve been clear as mud, feel free to let me know. :-)

  13. says

    I am so thrilled to find this post, and to find your site (where have I been?)! Thank you for being so thorough in the post and in your responses to comments. I’ve learned a lot here and I’m looking forward to trying this with amalaki for potent vitamin C, probiotics and the herbal cold and cough syrup I recently made (for my little one’s lingering cold/congestion). I’m also thinking about doing up a special batch for myself with a dose of the herbs and supplements I don’t seem to take often enough. Have any thoughts on including ground, dried herbs? I generally prefer doing infusions and decoctions, but with a toddler running around I get sidetracked in my routine. :) How about including ingestible essential oils? Thanks!

    • Kresha Faber says

      Well, if you KNOW what you’re doing with the essential oils (which *I* don’t, so I can’t advise you on specifics, other than to say use them only with extreme caution as they can be POTENT!) this would be a great way to control the dosage.

      As for the dried herbs, I would think the only issue would be the texture, as it would likely end up very fibrous, grainy, or chunky rather than smooth and chewy. But if that’s not an issue, then go for it! ;-)

  14. says

    I flavor my kombucha with herbal tea bags. I just add one or two herbal tea bags along with the four black or green tea bags. I especially love Celestial Seasonings TrueBlueberry.

Trackbacks

  1. […] For example, both limes and cranberries are in season right now (albeit in two very different growing areas!), so one recipe here is designed to feature those two seasonal ingredients. Another recipe features gelatin from grass-fed cattle, a highly nourishing ingredient that aids in digestion, and the benefits of which I describe in my recipe for homemade chewable gummy vitamins. […]

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