Tums have been around since 1930, making them one of the longest-standing brands of antacid in America. Practically every gas station, pharmacy, grocery store, and bodega carries them.
They’re a simple remedy for an upset or acidic stomach, making them popular among those who suffer from acid reflux, indigestion, or who are just a bit hungover from the night before!
However, are Tums vegan?
Yes! Tums are 100% vegan-friendly. They don’t contain any animal ingredients or animal-derived by-products.
The main active ingredient is calcium carbonate, which is a natural antacid found in soil and rocks. The other additives are mostly artificial coloring, flavors, and a bit of sweetener.
Below, I’m going to explain a bit more about how Tums work and give you a full breakdown of all of the main ingredients used in them. Then, I’ll explain why Tums aren’t very healthy and give you a few more natural alternatives!
Do Tums Have Dairy In Them?
If you’ve ever eaten a Tums before, you may have noticed that they all have this powdery texture and ultra-smooth consistency on the outside of each tablet. In many foods, this is the result of dairy by-products, such as whey or milk powder.
So, you’re right to question whether or not Tums have dairy.
Thankfully, Tums are dairy-free! The soft texture is the result of corn starch, not dairy. So, whether you’re vegan or just lactose-intolerant, Tums shouldn’t be a problem for you!
How Do Tums Work?
Almost everybody has used Tums or an off-brand alternative once before. I remember my school nurse used to hand them out like candy to every kid that came into her office complaining of an upset stomach.
During my partying days in college, Tums definitely helped my stomach get over the shots of cheap liquor from the night before.
That being said, a remarkably small number of individuals actually understand how Tums (and antacids, in general) work.
The main ingredient in Tums is calcium carbonate. This organic chalk-like compound is found throughout the earth’s crust. Chemically speaking, this compound is a “base.”
So, when it comes into contact with acids in your stomach, it helps to reduce them by canceling them out. This, in turn, helps get rid of an acidic stomach!
See? It’s just simple chemistry.
Of course, your body will always achieve equilibrium and produce the same amount of acid as normal. However, the Tums will help your body get rid of the excess acid that’s causing you pain and discomfort.
What Are Tums Made Of? Ingredients Analyzed
Just as most people don’t know how Tums work, most people also don’t know what Tums are made of. I’ve always been a proponent of learning more about the food and supplements you consume on a regular basis.
Whether it’s your favorite candy or just an over-the-counter antacid, you should always be aware of what’s going into your body.
So, in the spirit of education and transparency, let’s take a look at what Tums are made of!
Here’s the list of the ingredients used in Tums:
These ingredients have changed little (if any) over the past twenty years, so it’s unlikely to change any time soon. Next, let’s take a few minutes to go through the ingredients list and clear up any confusing additives that you may not fully understand!
1) Calcium Carbonate
Calcium carbonate is the only active ingredient in Tums. This means that it’s really the only ingredient that actually does anything. It’s also used in several other types of liquid and solid antacids.
Calcium carbonate is an incredibly abundant mineral that is found throughout the earth’s crust. It can also be found in many different types of rock, sediment, and soil, and is also found in bones.
It’s basically just a combination of calcium and carbon, which are two of the most abundant elements on earth.
Despite the fact that it’s found in bones, calcium carbonate is 100% vegan. The calcium carbonate used for Tums is all obtained from rocks and sediment, as it’s far more abundant there than anywhere else.
The amount of calcium carbonate found in bones is incredibly low compared to the concentration of calcium carbonate on the earth, so it wouldn’t make sense to extract it from animal bones.
2) Corn Starch
Corn starch is an important ingredient that’s used in a number of different pills and tablets. It’s a fine, powdery starch that’s processed out of corn meal, so it’s perfectly safe for vegans to consume.
That being said, it’s not very healthy, so you should avoid consuming too many foods with corn starch.
Corn starch is part of what gives Tums tablets their powdery consistency. It also helps keep the tablets dry and prevents them from melting, crumbling, and sticking to each other when they’re exposed to outside air and humidity.
3) Artificial Food Coloring
If you’ve ever purchased a pack of Tums before, then you may have realized that there are different flavors and colors. In fact, each container of Tums typically has several different flavors. Some are citrusy, others are berry-flavored, some are mint-flavored, and so on.
All of the colorings used in Tums are artificial. This means that they’re all made in a lab and are safe for vegans to consume. Tums never use any type of animal-derived food dye in their over-the-counter medication.
4) Artificial Flavors
Tums offers a variety of different flavors of tablets. Whether you’re into citrus, berries, or mint, they’ve got something designed to pique your interest. Because let’s be honest – when your stomach feels bad, the last thing you want to do is taste something that you already don’t like!
Just as all Tums are artificially colored, all Tums are also artificially flavored.
These artificial flavors are all vegan since they’re made in a lab and don’t come from animals.
5) Mineral Oil
Mineral oil serves as a natural antioxidant and preservative in Tums. It prevents the outside air and moisture from getting into the tablets and causing them to spoil, fall apart, or go bad.
Mineral oil is a petroleum product that’s derived from oil and gasoline. It’s a thick, opaque gel that’s often used in food and industrial applications. It’s vegan, safe to eat in small amounts, and isn’t anything that you should be afraid of.
6) Sodium Polyphosphate
Sodium polyphosphate is a leavening agent. It’s often used in baked goods and crispy snacks, as it works similarly to baking soda.
This leavening agent keeps the tablets firm, dry, and compact, preventing air bubbles from getting into the tablets and causing them to break apart and crumble.
Sucrose is a simple sugar syrup that’s used to lightly sweeten the Tums. Otherwise, they’d taste pretty dull and awful (more so than they already do, that is). Sucrose is generally considered vegan, though, so there’s nothing to worry about here.
Talc is a fine powder that’s found in the earth. It consists of magnesium, oxygen, silicon, and hydrogen. It’s used in a number of powder-based products, such as makeup, baby powder, and deodorant.
Talc is vegan-friendly since it comes from the earth.
Are Tums Soy-Free?
Yes, Tums are 100% soy-free. Although soy is used in a number of vegan-friendly foods, there are some who are allergic to soy and soy products.
Why Are Tums Not Good For You?
Tums is a helpful remedy for those once-in-a-while stomach aches and acidity. However, you shouldn’t be taking Tums every day. While Tums are harmless in small amounts, the calcium carbonate can build up in your system, causing problems with both your liver and kidneys.
When it comes to minerals and trace minerals, your body has a very fine tolerance for what it can and can’t process. Minerals are healthy in the right doses, they can be deadly when over-consumed!
What Can I Use Instead Of Tums?
One of the most popular alternatives to Tums is to consume baking soda. Baking soda is just sodium bicarbonate, a natural antacid that works similarly to calcium carbonate.
Baking soda isn’t as heavy or difficult for your body to process, though, so you can consume more of it safely. Plus, it doesn’t have all of the extra artificial flavors and colors added! Just take a small teaspoon of baking soda, add it to a glass of water, and chug it.
Another healthy and organic way to treat an acidic stomach is to drink a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Just make sure you get the raw, unpasteurized vinegar!
Apple cider vinegar contains a number of enzymes, which can help your stomach speed up the digestion process and get rid of whatever’s causing your acid levels to increase.
Apple cider vinegar also contains natural probiotics, which can get rid of bad bacteria that cause stomach discomfort.
The Verdict – Are Tums Safe For Vegans?
Tums are perfectly safe for vegans to consume. Just remember to keep your overall health in mind, and don’t take them every day. If you just need a short-term fix to get rid of that pesky acidic feeling, though, they’re a great choice.
One of the best ways to avoid an acidic stomach and indigestion is to eat more alkaline foods. These foods are low in acid and easier for your body to digest. To learn more, check out my latest post listing the best vegan alkaline meals!