Recently I was asked about the supplement Juice Plus®. Juice Plus® number one claim is that it is "the next best thing to fruits and vegetables", leading the consumer to believe that these pills are "closer to real fruits and vegetables than is likely to be the case"-says Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). CSPI also explained that the labels indicate that the capsules contain high levels of vitamins A and C and folate naturally, and do not disclose that these vitamins and minerals are added to the capsules during processing.”(1) Very deceiving! Recently Airborne made false claims that the supplement cures and prevents colds. Airborne is now under a 23 million class action law suit and the CSPI would like to do the same with Juice Plus®.
The fact is that supplements in the US are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and there is little to no viable research. It is a great money making industry and often can be very deceptive. Then how do we know? A few great websites to find more information on supplements are http://www.nsf.org/certified/dietary/ andhttp://ods.od.nih.gov/. While it is true that people who eat more fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers (2), the research completed never considered or used juice sweetened cookies, crackers , or gummy chews made from dehydrated fruit and vegetables (2). JuicePlus® claims that one pill contains your daily intake of fruits and vegetables in compact form. Is this sound? We would like to believe that we can shrink 3-5 servings of all the amazing antioxidants, vitamins, minerals that are found in whole fruits and vegetables into 2 little capsules! There is nothing natural about this process! No pun intended!
Another benefit from eating whole fruits and vegetables is fiber! Juice and pill form supplements contain little to no fiber. Research conducted at the Institute of Medicine shows our bodies need 20-30 gms of fiber daily. Our main source of fiber comes from whole fruits and vegetables consumed in our diet. A high fiber diet has been proven to prevent cardiovascular disease, and possibly other forms of cancer (2).
Conclusion and lesson for the day: A vitamin/mineral supplement should never replace eating whole fruits and vegetables!
A side note on fruits and vegetables with children:
As parents we want our children to eat fruits and vegetables and some of us are looking for ways to “sneak” fruits and vegetables into meals in order for them to get their servings of fruits and vegetables. And not to mention some of us are supplementing our child’s diet with dehydrated fruit/vegetable crackers, cookies, or supplement chews that looks like candy teddy bears replacing or counting these as fruits and vegetable servings. We have underestimated the benefits of whole fruits and vegetables! We have put such a negative spin on fruits and vegetables! Why not teach our children the truth about all the benefits that whole fruits and vegetables can provide! Let them pick out a new fruit or vegetable at the grocery store or farmers market next time, find a recipe, get in the kitchen, and COOK with your kids!