Size Matters: The Vitamin Pill Dilemma

I’m not a horse and neither are you. So why do supplement makers design giant horse pills that only Secretariat could swallow? Choking on the choices, we older adults with small throats have just one response to horse pills: Naaay.

Because size does matter, at least if you take vitamins and minerals, and that choice depends on what advice one chooses. There are two schools of vitamin advice and they contradict each other. Some say we don’t need vitamins. Just eat a healthy diet. Others say we do need them for optimum health because people don’t eat well.

Once again, we are left to flip a coin when it comes to health advice.

Erich Ferdinand/Flickr

If you and your doc come down on the side of supplements…you may still have the gagging dilemma to solve: How to take horse pills if you are not a horse.

Luckily, vitamins are made in chewable, liquid and spray forms., but liquids can be expensive. With that in mind,  I searched Amazon and found the edible, non-liquid products below.

(I have no financial interest in these and I’m not a doctor. I just found some products that work for gaggable me and thought they might interest readers with the same issue.)

So here are a few chewable or small-sized contenders:

Centrum Silver,  Citrus Berry Multivitamin, Multimineral Chewables. If your doc says you need calcium, this pill will give you just 20% of the established value, but, on the other hand, this one chewable product covers many nutritional bases.

Omega-3 Easy-to Swallow, Ultra-Pure Fish Oil Supplement, Natural Lemon Flavor.  Dr. Andrew Weil recommends fish oils that are molecularly distilled—the bad stuff taken out—and these small gel capsules are so purified. The lemon flavor matters if you bite down instead of swallow whole.

Bluebonnet Earth Sweet Chewable Vitamin D3, 2000 IU, Natural Raspberry Flavor. If you’re up on nutrition advice, you know that Vitamin D3 is a current star. These little gems are quite tasty.

Enzymatic Smart Q10, 100 mg Chewable Tablets. My doc recommends this enzyme. The Mayo Clinic says the jury is out. Still another advice conflict. Maybe I should chew just half.

Those of you struggling with calcium horse pills have probably found a solution by now as the chewable and liquid forms are readily available. Some of the supplements featured above, though, are hard to find except on Amazon, where the price is usually a bargain and you can read the consumer reviews before ordering. You might also want to run your supplements by a physician or nutrition guru, but only if they are not selling the stuff. (My suspicion runs deep.)

Last…Some of you were kind enough to notice I’ve taken time off from blogging. After writing hundreds of columns with no break, I needed a mini-sabbatical to recharge.

Sandra Forbes/Flickr

But I have steam up in the boiler again—the little blogger that could—and I hope I’ll be seeing you here at

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8 Responses to Size Matters: The Vitamin Pill Dilemma

  1. Margaret Blolebaum says:

    I haven’t been able to swallow anything larger than a match-head since I was a wee tad and had to swallow a pill the size of a silver dollar every night for several months. My parents used to crush them up and put them on a spoonful of applesauce, followed by a special treat – a spoonful of raspberry syrup. I used the applesauce trick, without the syrup, from then on.

    In the last 20 years, though, as it became inconvenient to carry applesauce around with me, I discovered that I can swallow a pill just as easily with a cracker or piece of bread or toast. I swallow my morning pharmacopaeia with my cereal or English muffin with no problem, even my gigantic fish oil bomb. To this day, the only pill I can swallow with water is my teeny thyroid med – even aspirin requires food – but crackers are easy to tote around. As is trail mix. So I’d say size doesn’t matter.

  2. Mel Walsh says:

    Thanks for the ideas, Margaret. And suekleeberk wrote me privately that she’s been trying to post here but it won’t post. Here’s what she says: “I have found that *capsules* are eminently swallowable and tablets are not. Even the tablets that say “easy swallow” because they are coated with something relatively slippery cannot compare to capsules. And, BTW, has it been relatively agreed by the Powers that Be’d, that 1,000 iu is the optimum daily dose for Vit D3??”

    Answer from Mel: Dr. Andrew Weil, who seems to me to represent the best combination of a traditionally trained doc (Harvard) and someone who also studies natural plant sources as “medicine” along with human nutrition, says he thinks the current recommendations for D3 are too low and his recommendation is now 2000 IU’s. That’s the dosage of the Vitamin D supplement above.

    Thanks for writing, Susan and maybe it’s your browser. Have you tried Firefox? Caution: I downloaded Google’s Chrome to try it as a browser. Yikes. Took it off again. Safari and Chrome don’t seem to mix. Staying monogamous now with Safari. Ok, occasional flings with Firefox.

  3. Gayla Sherlund says:

    I’m glad you’re back to blogging. I read you loud and clear.

  4. jan olofson says:

    Welcome back! Thanks for the timely information. I have been reading so much (conflicting) advice, just the idea of shopping was too much.

  5. Maureen says:

    I was just wondering what happened to this wonderful writer and column. Missed your warm and funny wit. Glad to have you back!

  6. Ruth says:

    Greetings! I was wondering why I wasn’t seeing any Geezer emails, missed them, and glad you are back. I keep them in a folder to review favorites.
    I checked Consumer Reports for best overall vitamin and they recommend Centrum. Hope they aren’t horse pills! I wanted one to take on vacation, versus the individual ones I take at home.

  7. Margaret says:

    Costco sells a Centrum Silver clone for much less than the brand.

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