Anyone who is on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook or TikTok often comes across offers that sound tempting: from weight loss powder to lucrative investments. In our series, reporter Judith Henke takes a look at these products. What is behind it, how serious are you?
When I was a child, I was admonished when I sat down on the kitchen table. But other social conventions probably apply to influencers – for example, to the actress Nina Bott, who is known from German television.
She uploaded a photo to Instagram showing her seated on a kitchen table. She does something that would make food fanatics angry: although there is a fresh fruit basket next to her, she prefers a can of gummy bears.
But in the text below the post I learn that these gummy bears are probably not unhealthy at all. On the contrary: Nina Bott eats them every day, "for hair, nails, skin and essential minerals."
And she is not the only prominent Instagram user with the supposed routine: the moderators Annemarie Carpendale and Rebecca Mir also rave about the “Bears with Benefits” brand gummy bears.
The prominent support has apparently paid off: In November, the start-up behind the bears was bought by the Havea Group for a double-digit million amount.
A great success for the two founders Laurence Saunier and Marlena Hien, who built their company without outside capital. Before that, the two worked in an advertising agency as consultants – and they also proved with their start-up that they have a good knack for marketing.
With the promise to sell gummy bears that make them prettier and healthier, Saunier and Hien struck a chord with a predominantly female audience right from the start. The variety "Ah-mazing Hair" is popular.
For hair, skin and nails, this dietary supplement is to be taken according to the website. Recommended consumption: one bear a day. I seriously wonder who has such strength of will when it comes to eating gummy bears.
On the other hand: At almost 23 euros for 60 pieces, the Ah-mazing-Hair gummy bears are not exactly cheap either - maybe the customers will then automatically ration their portions.
In addition, the gummy bears are not ordinary sweets, but dietary supplements. With seven "highly concentrated beauty vitamins", as the website says.
The ingredient biotin is primarily advertised. "Biotin contributes to the maintenance of normal hair and skin," I read in the product description.
"Normal hair" - I think that's a boring advertising slogan. Why doesn't the hair shine after taking the gummy bears, is it more voluminous or healthier?
There is a simple reason for this: In the European Union, only the statements “Biotin helps maintain normal skin” and “Biotin helps maintain normal hair” are permitted.
Dermatologist Gerhard Lutz, who specializes in hair loss patients, explains why. He looked at the ingredients of the "Ah Mazing Hair" bears for me. If patients with hair loss came to his practice, he would test whether there was a biotin deficiency.
An undersupply of it can lead to hair loss. However: “Only very few people have a low biotin value.” As a rule, we would absorb enough biotin through our diet.
He also tests whether his patients are deficient in zinc, vitamin D3 and iron. Although zinc is contained in the gummy bears, 1.5 milligrams is a rather low dosage, which is well below the daily requirement for adults. Iron and vitamin D3 are not included.
The dermatologist advises hair loss sufferers not to take dietary supplements on the off chance. "Hair loss can have a variety of causes," he says.
The hair loss can be hereditary or hormonal, caused by medication or a malfunction of the immune system. "But to find out, those affected have to see a doctor."
Alexander Kreuter, chief physician for dermatology at the Helios clinics in Duisburg and Oberhausen, emphasizes that deficiency symptoms are the cause of hair loss in only a few cases. "People who eat sensibly don't usually have a biotin deficiency," he says.
He also points out that the recommended daily dose of biotin would be around 40 to 50 micrograms.
A daily dose of "Ah-mazing-Hair" gummy bears contains 5,000 micrograms of biotin - and that's what "Bears with Benefits" even advertises. That's about a hundred times the recommended daily dose. But is this high dosage of any use to me?
According to Kreuter, the body would excrete biotin consumed in excess of the required dose. But do the founders know that? I ask – and they send me a detailed email.
In it they refer to several studies, even list them. 38 percent of women with hair loss would therefore suffer from a biotin deficiency.
In addition, there is research that after a high dose of biotin of 2,500 micrograms per day, the nail thickness would increase, "the nail surface and hair loss also improved individually."
In addition, the data available to date would suggest "that biotin can do more in the treatment of hair loss, hair growth disorders and brittle nails than is usually assumed."
The effect is not linked to a detectable biotin deficiency. Some experts would even assume that high biotin dosages of 5,000 micrograms in particular can lead to significant improvements in hair loss problems.
The biotin capsules from the competition also often contain an excessive amount of biotin - such as the tablets from the house brand "dm". But I noticed that 60 pieces cost 2.45 euros - significantly less than the gummy bears. Other providers are also well below the 23 euros that “Bears with benefits” requires.
When asked about this, the founders Hien and Saunier point out that many of the discounter or drugstore tablets contain unhealthy ingredients - such as the dye titanium dioxide, which has been classified as carcinogenic.
In addition, the "Ah-mazing Hair" gummy bears would contain other vitamins and minerals. If a customer were to buy each of these ingredients in pill form and of comparable quality, this would exceed the retail price many times over.
Incidentally, vitamin D3 and iron are not included in the product, as there are no approved EU health claims for hair health.
The hair jelly babies are of course not the only product from "Bears with benefits". Similar to shampoo brands, which are available for every supposed external defect - greasy hair, thin hair, brittle hair - the customers can choose exactly on the website, what they want to optimize with the gummy bears.
So there is under the product category "Booty
The ingredient is said to provide firmer skin and help fight cellulite as it supports connective tissue.
Eating sweets to keep your butt tight - isn't that a bit counterintuitive? But according to the dermatologist Kreuter, there is actually a study in which over 100 women between the ages of 45 and 65 took part, who had previously been selected by random sampling.
The part of the subjects who had taken the Verisol collagen – which is also contained in the gummy bears – had a statistically significantly better wrinkle depth than the control group after eight weeks.
But still: Other dermatologists whom I asked about the ingredients of the "Bootylicious Shape" bears are more skeptical. For example, the Bremen dermatologist Uwe Schwichtenberg. "The study situation that collagen is supposed to tighten the connective tissue is at least uncertain," he says.
When asked about this, the “Bears with benefits” founders refer to the same study on Verisol that the dermatologist Kreuter also referred to me. And they name another study in which 69 women aged 35 to 55 took part. They have shown that Verisol significantly increases skin elasticity within four weeks.
But "Bears with Benefits" also points out on the product information for the collagen gummy bears: "You can keep the tissue firmer with sport, sleep and healthy nutrition".
Too bad - so I can't swap my fitness and diet routine for gummy bear eating.
But what interests me now: Do the influencers who advertised “Bears with benefits” know that gummy bears won’t magically give them beautiful hair and firm skin? Rebecca Mir and Annemarie Carpendale don't respond to my questions.
But Nina Bott replies that she is aware that dietary supplements cannot replace a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. But as a mother of four, she knows how difficult it is to establish and stick to a routine.
"I tested Bears with Benefits products for a while and noticed that they helped me, especially at times when I couldn't do anything else," she writes to me. Especially after her pregnancy she "felt a strong effect."
But are gummy bears really a good way to supplement your diet? I ask David Fäh, Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at Bern University of Applied Sciences. He looked at the ingredients of the two varieties "Ah-mazing Hair" and "Bootylicous Shape" for me.
Just like the dermatologists, he says: "Anyone who eats a normal diet usually takes in enough biotin." This is found in whole grain products, nuts and legumes, for example. So it makes more sense to eat muesli with nuts in the morning than to grab gummy bears - because they contain empty calories.
By that, Fäh means: The muesli fills me up and I'm well taken care of, but not the gummy bears. The other ingredients - including zinc and vitamin C - are actually contained in a normal diet, says Fäh.
Collagen - the ingredient used to advertise the "Bootylicious Shape" bears - is already part of most gummy bears.
Because the raw material of gelatine, the support substance of gummy bears, is collagen. In addition, regular exercise is certainly more effective in achieving firm skin.
On the other hand, eating too much unhealthy food is counterproductive on the way to a slim waist and a beautiful complexion, according to the nutritionist.
“The gummy bears contain sugar or sugar substitutes. If you eat them in between and not directly after a meal, your blood sugar and thus your insulin level will rise,” says Fäh. In the long run, this could have health consequences, such as obesity or diabetes.
The founders Hien and Saunier reject the criticism. The collagen Verisol is not comparable with conventional gelatine. In addition, a gummy bear contains an average of six calories.
“Here, the benefits of targeted and optimal nutrient supplementation far outweigh the potential calorie burden,” they write to me. In addition, the majority of the products are sugar-free and have only a minimal effect on blood sugar levels.
But Angela Clausen from the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer center also noticed the sugar content of the gummy bears. In the list of ingredients for the "Ah-mazing Hair" bears, the sugars glucose syrup, sugar and dextrose are the first to be mentioned. "The product should therefore consist of about 80-90 percent sugar," the consumer advocate speculates.
It is well known that gummy bears contain a lot of sugar. A 200 gram bag of the popular candy contains around 49 sugar cubes. If you only nibble on it for pleasure, that shouldn't matter - with a health product like "Bears with benefits" it's probably different. That's why many of the varieties are sugar-free - that's what it says on the packaging.
The same goes for the "Bootylicious" bears. With them, explains consumer advocate Clausen, the sugar substitute maltitol was used - this contains only half as many calories as sugar. But: "Maltitol can have a laxative effect." A corresponding warning is available - at least.
But Clausen noticed another product from the "Bears with benefits" range - with a particularly sensitive target group. Because the company advertises the product explicitly as a supposedly healthy dietary supplement for children.
The product description for the three-month treatment Paw Patrol children's multivitamin gummy bears says: "Vitamins don't have to be boring - our multivitamin gummy bears taste fruity and delicious, offer numerous important vitamins in a complex and are very easy to take: vegan, sugar-free and with a delicious raspberry taste . A must for the school cone, as a gift or as a healthy treat for the little ones.”
Among other things, the ingredient vitamin D3 is advertised. Clausen refers here to a statement by two pediatrician associations: the German Society for Child and Adolescent Medicine and the German Society for Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetology.
They analyzed the current study situation on the question of what effects an additional supply of vitamin D to children over the age of two years. The result: Vitamin D supplements are not absolutely necessary for children - unless they have certain pre-existing conditions.
The "Bears with Benefits" founders say they are aware that children who eat healthily do not need any dietary supplements.
However, many children tend to have an unbalanced diet and, according to a study funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, no longer achieve the reference values for nutrient intake with vitamin D.
In addition, they would not spend enough time in the fresh air and therefore would not get enough sunlight. But it is precisely for this case that the German professional societies would recommend the additional intake of vitamin D.
The founders' answer sounds plausible - and at the same time it worries me. When I think back to my childhood, I think of spending hours on the playground, even when it was below zero. And the fruit was eaten - there was no discussion. I didn't need gummy bears with dietary supplements.
But apparently there is a demand for these products – also and especially for adults. But in my opinion, they should think about investing the 23 euros for dietary supplement gummy bears in a gym membership and a bag of nuts.
Even if the "Bears with benefits" products - I'll admit that after a little test - taste really good.
It doesn't matter whether it's lucrative investments, dental splints or coaching offers: anyone who uses social media is overwhelmed with product recommendations. What's behind it? How serious are you? You can find out in our podcast "Die Netz-Checkerin". Subscribe to Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Deezer, Amazon Music or directly via RSS feed.