Chewing gum can be an effective delivery system for vitamins, according to a study published in the Journal of Functional Foods.

One in 10 people over 1 year of age in the United States are deficient in vitamins B6 and C. Chewing gum, which is a familiar habit for many people, may provide a solution, according to the study. Already, nearly 15% of all chewing gum varieties sold promise to provide health-enhancing supplementation to consumers.

Investigators had 15 people chew 2 different types of off-the-shelf gum. They then measured the levels of 8 different vitamins released into the saliva. In a separate experiment with the same subjects, the levels of 7 vitamins were measured in the plasma. An identical gum without vitamin supplements was used as a placebo.

The study found that retinol (A1), thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacinamide (B3), pyridoxine (B6), folic acid, cyanocobalamin (B12), ascorbic acid (C), and alpha-tocopherol (E) were all released into the saliva of those chewing the gum with the supplements. Changes were also observed in the plasma of those who chewed the supplemental gum. 

According to the study, retinol concentrations increased from 75% to 96%, pyridoxine concentrations increased from 906% to 1077%, ascorbic acid increased from 64% to 141%, and alpha-tocopherol concentrations increased from 418% to 502% compared with the placebo. 

"This study was done in an acute setting—for a day we have shown that chewing supplemented gum bumps up vitamin levels in blood plasma,” said Joshua Lambert, PhD, professor of food science in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Pennsylvania State University, in the press release. "But we haven't shown that this will elevate plasma levels for vitamins long-term. Ideally, that would be the next study. Enroll people who have some level of deficiency for some of the vitamins in supplemented gum and have them chew it regularly for a month to see if that raises levels of the vitamins in their blood."

Currently, no requirements exist for nutritional gums to be tested for efficacy because they are considered dietary supplements, according to the study authors. 

Reference:
Chewing gum may be effective for delivering vitamins [News release]October 9, 2020; Centre County, PA.https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-10/ps-cgm100918.php. Accessed October 5, 2020.