If you’re always scrolling TikTok for healthy morning routine inspo, then you’ve likely noticed that people are absolutely loving apple cider vinegar right now. The hashtag #applecidervinegar has over 255.8 million views, while #ACVgummies currently has 10 million, both of which feature videos dedicated to the benefits apple cider vinegar supplements claim to offer.
Of course, apple cider vinegar (ACV) is nothing new. You may even have an old bottle sitting in your kitchen. The sour concoction is made from apple cider that’s been fermented, says Dr. Erin Stokes, a naturopathic doctor and medical director at MegaFood, and it’s something folks have been eating and taking in shot form for ages because of its many health benefits.
To get in on the ACV game, Stokes recommends taking a “food first” approach, meaning it’s always best to eat or drink your vitamins and nutrients before you consider adding them in supplement form. “Fortunately, apple cider vinegar is very easy to find in any natural grocer, and can easily be ingested either in warm water or in a salad dressing,” she says.
That said, supplements — and particularly ACV gummies — are popular for a reason. For one, they help you bypass the pungent fermented taste that can make taking apple cider vinegar so difficult. And supplements have a higher concentration of ACV than you’d get from, say, eating a salad with it in your dressing, says Melissa Rifkin, MS, RD, CDN, a registered dietician with Montag Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies.
But do they work? Here’s what to know about ACV supplements in case you want to add them to your #morningroutine.
The Benefits Of ACV Supplements
1. It May Help Regulate Your Blood Sugar Levels
According to Mollie Ferguson, RD, LDN, a registered dietician and CEO of Functional Wellness RD, studies have shown that taking ACV before a meal may cause delayed gastric emptying, which is something that can affect how you feel after eating.
“Essentially, your food is released from the stomach to the small intestine at a slower rate,” she tells Bustle. “In turn, your body absorbs the glucose, or sugar, from your meals more slowly, decreasing the spike in your blood sugar and the amount of glucose released into your bloodstream.”
While there is some evidence that apple cider vinegar may support healthy blood sugar levels, Stokes adds that it’s still unknown if ACV supplements are as effective as the food itself.
2. It May Help Improve Digestion
Some TikTokers note that ACV helps their digestion or reduces bloating. The idea here may be related to stomach acid, says Amanda Sauceda, MS, RD, a registered dietician nutritionist.
“Stomach acid helps you break down your food, and a lack of stomach acid could be one factor that could lead to indigestion,” she tells Bustle. “So if someone were to take ACV, the thought is that the acid in the vinegar helps give their body a bit of a digestive boost, which in turn can help their indigestion.”
Of course, these benefits are often anecdotal. If someone says it helps their digestion, it really might — but as of right now, there isn’t any research to back it up. “It would also be a red flag if someone felt they always needed ACV for their digestion,” Sauceda notes. “Ideally, your body should be making this on its own.”
3. It May Support Your Immune System
While ACV won’t directly boost your immune system, taking it on a regular basis may help your gut, which in turn can help your immune system. It’s thought that ACV containing “the mother” — aka the kind that’s unpasteurized — may help build a healthy gut microbiome, which can support immune function, Ferguson explains.
About 70 to 80% of your immune system is found in your gut, so taking care of it is important. Ferguson suggests incorporating a variety of probiotic and prebiotic foods into your daily diet — not just ACV. “Probiotic foods introduce live bacteria in your gut and can be found in foods like ACV, sauerkraut, kimchi, and natto,” she says. “Prebiotic foods feed the good gut bacteria already found in our gut and include foods like beans, onions, garlic, artichokes, and cabbage.”
4. It Might Boost Energy
Lots of TikTokers show themselves jumping up and down, powering through tough workout routines, and generally feeling more energized after taking ACV. But is it a genuine side effect?
According to Rifkin, an energy boost may be felt secondary to other benefits from the supplement, like improved blood sugar, immunity, and digestion. “Limited research also suggests acetic acid in ACV may improve muscle energy refueling,” she notes.
Can ACV Help Detox Your Body?
One of the big draws of ACV is that it’s supposed to “detox” your body. And while it can be tempting to take a supplement that promises to rid your body of toxins, it’s important to remember that that’s actually a job for your “detoxing organs”, Sauceda says, like your liver, kidneys, skin, and digestive system, with your liver being the shining star.
Your body should be able to detox just fine if you sweat on a regular basis, drink 64 ounces of water a day, eat 30 grams of fiber daily to get enough protein, and consume colorful fruits and vegetables, Ferguson explains. “If you don’t have these basics down, no amount of detox product will help you.”
Are ACV Supplements Worth It?
According to Ferguson, it’s also tempting to place a lot of hope in a supplement that claims to fix a bunch of different health issues. But you can get just as much benefit from the whole food source, she says, so you might be better off buying a cheaper bottle of ACV and calling it a day.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with trying the gummies or supplements if you want to. Just remember: “It’s not the magical thing TikTok tries to make it out to be,” she says.
How To Choose An Apple Cider Vinegar Supplement
If you want to go the food route, Ferguson recommends buying apple cider vinegar in a glass bottle that contains the “mother” for the added antioxidant benefits, then mixing it into water or juice to dilute its strong taste.
If you want to buy a supplement, read the label first. “The main thing to look out for with gummy supplements overall is the additional ingredients,” Stokes says. “If you choose to go with an ACV gummy, check in on the amount of sugar, and look for a gummy that is gelatin-free, free of common allergens, and non-GMO.”
Because it’s acidic, an actual ACV shot might burn your throat a bit going down. It might also start to erode your tooth enamel, Ferguson says, especially if you forget to dilute it.
While ACV is generally well-tolerated in both food and supplement form, you should always check in with your doctor before adding it to your routine, especially if you take other medications.
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Wiertsema, SP. 2021. The Interplay between the Gut Microbiome and the Immune System in the Context of Infectious Diseases throughout Life and the Role of Nutrition in Optimizing Treatment Strategies. nutrients. doi: 10.3390/nu13030886.
dr Erin Stokes, naturopathic doctor
Melissa Rifkin, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietician
Mollie Ferguson, RD, LDN, registered dietician
Amanda Sauceda, MS, RD, registered dietician nutritionist