Juice SupplementsSeptember 1, 2010 Written by JP [Font too small?]
There are few topics in modern medicine that stir as much debate as nutritional supplementation. At first glance, it seems like such an innocuous subject matter. What could possibly be so controversial about the concept of supplementing in order to protect against a potential nutrient deficiency? On one side of the fence, you have some allopathic physicians who believe that supplements give license to patients to eat an unhealthy diet. Surprisingly, some on the naturopathic front share a similar perspective. They believe that the goodness found in natural, whole foods can’t possibly be matched by most supplements. In an ideal world, mankind could be expected to derive all that’s needed from the environment and food supply. But that’s a different world than the one we live in.
An area where many people fall short of their dietary goals is in their intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. The reasons for this vary, but the end result is uniformly predictable: if you don’t eat a fair share of produce, your diet will be lower in protective antioxidants, fiber, minerals, phytochemicals and vitamins. I only wish that knowledge was enough to get everyone to meet their recommended fruit and vegetable quota. Unfortunately, it’s not. That’s part of the reason why fruit and vegetable supplements exist. But the question remains in the minds of many – “Are they worth the investment?”. Here’s a review of several recent studies that tackle that very subject matter:
- The August 2010 issue of the British Journal of Nutrition assessed whether the common cold could be prevented in adults receiving an “encapsulated juice powder concentrate of fruits and vegetables”. The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study involved 529 health care professionals and followed their health status over a 10 month period. Those receiving 4 capsules of the fruit/vegetable extract registered an average of 7.6 days with moderate or severe cold symptoms. The volunteers receiving the placebo were sick, on average, 9.5 days. This translates into a 20% reduction in cold symptom days. Prior research suggests that the noted improvement in immune function may be due to an increase in T-cells and a reduction of DNA damage in lymphocytes – white blood cells that protect the body from infection. (1,2)
- A recent trial conducted at the University of North Carolina Greensboro reports that pre-treatment with a “fruit/berry/vegetable concentrate” is capable of reducing oxidative stress in response to eccentric exercise. A previous study from 2006 confirms that a similar fruit and vegetable powder concentrate also lowers oxidative stress brought on by aerobic exercise. Finally, a longer term intervention in “trained men” supports all of the previous contentions and more: fewer sick days, a decline in oxidative stress and a reduction in systemic inflammation (TNFalpha). (3,4,5)
- Over the past several years, a number of trials point to significant cardioprotective activity in association with dried, encapsulated juice concentrates. The heart friendly benefits include a decline in: a) several inflammatory markers; b) blood pressure and the progression of artery calcium; c) poor circulation induced by unhealthy meals. (6,7,8)
It’s also reassuring to know that mixed fruit and vegetable extracts can positively influence the health of those in vulnerable populations including smokers. Trials conducted in Australia, Italy and Japan all attest to a potent antioxidant and homocysteine-lowering effect of a commercial supplement known as Juice Plus. Smokers who supplemented with this product for 28 days also demonstrated substantially higher levels of select nutrients in the blood (folate, Vitamins A, C & E). The conclusion of one of the studies states that, “supplementation with a fruit and vegetable concentrate produced responses consistent with a reduction in CHD (coronary heart disease) risk”. (9,10,11)
There are quite a few products on the market that are similar to Juice Plus. They all tend to contain a wide variety of fruit and vegetable extracts with high ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scores – a measure of antioxidant potential. But even individual fruit extracts have shown to be effective vehicles for providing some of the benefits of whole foods. The June 2008 issue of the Journal of Medicinal Food reports that taking a 1,000 mg capsule of dried pomegranate extract is equivalent to drinking 8 ounces of pomegranate juice. The human body processes the juice faster but, ultimately, both types of pomegranate “supplementation” achieved comparable levels of plasma and urinary antioxidants in a test involving 16 healthy volunteers. Other experiments involving “spray-dried powder” of elderberry and melon juice concentrate similarly indicate therapeutic potential ranging from cardiovascular protection to stress management. (12,13,14)
My philosophy about dietary supplements is relatively straight forward. Supplements should never be used as a replacement for a healthy, whole food-based diet. Aside from the marketing plans of a handful of unscrupulous supplement manufacturers, that was never the intent. Shame on them. Don’t fall for the hype and don’t finance their future ventures. Instead, take an honest look at your diet. Where do you fall short? If you, like many, are frequently deficient in the fruit and, particularly, the vegetable category, you might consider adding a concentrated juice extract to your daily routine. The beauty of these supplements is that they generally contain ingredients that are familiar to your body and won’t be objectionable to most doctors. And while the concentrated extracts won’t fortify your system with fiber and some of the nutrients found in fresh produce, they also won’t donate the fructose that you’d normally find in abundance in fruits. This is one class of supplement that I think could be useful for a good portion of the population.
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
Tags: Fruits, Juice, Vegetables
Posted in Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements, Product Reviews
September 2nd, 2010 at 4:57 am
I take a whole food vitamin daily with my other supplements. I wonder if the health benefits are similar with this type versus a concentrated juice? The brand I take has both reds and greens.
September 2nd, 2010 at 11:14 am
It’s hard to say for certain. Solvent and water-based extracts aren’t identical to (powdered) juice concentrates. But both forms of extraction should yield beneficial components from their source material. The exact composition and proportion of nutrients and phytochemicals will naturally vary though.
Example: I use a 800 mg extract of Amla which contains 400 mg of naturally occurring Vitamin C. An Amla juice supplement would almost certainly contain much less Vitamin C – even if concentrated. Even so, both would likely yield health benefits.
September 2nd, 2010 at 5:00 pm
Hi JP. Interesting post! I’ve always been a big believer in eating fruits and vegetables over supplements because so many of the people I know who take them are using it as a shortcut to avoid making healthier choices. You know, they type that eats a donut for breakfast and then chases it with juice plus. But you’ve opened my eyes that juice supplements have come a long way and can really be a great addition to eating directly at the source.
September 2nd, 2010 at 5:12 pm
Thank you, Shira! 🙂
September 15th, 2010 at 1:20 am
I believe there should be a balance between whole foods and supplements. I feel both are a necessity due to how toxic our environment and soils are.
March 5th, 2015 at 1:47 pm
Update: Juice supplements benefit pulmonary function and health in smokers …
J Am Coll Nutr. 2013;32(1):18-25. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2013.767652.
An encapsulated juice powder concentrate improves markers of pulmonary function and cardiovascular risk factors in heavy smokers.
OBJECTIVE: Cigarette smoking is associated with reduced pulmonary function and increased risk factors for cardiovascular disease. This randomized placebo-controlled double-blind study evaluated the effects of two different combinations of mixed fruit and vegetable juice powder concentrate (Juice Plus+, NSA, Collierville, TN) on heavy smokers.
METHODS: At baseline (T 0) and after 3 months’ supplementation (T 1), pulmonary function parameters and cardiovascular risk factors-that is, plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) with related B vitamins and cysteine (tCys) concentrations-were assessed in 75 apparently healthy smokers (aged 49.2 ± 10.6 years, >20 cigarettes/d, duration ≥10 years) randomized into 3 groups: placebo (P), fruit/vegetable (FV) and fruit/vegetable/berry (FVB).
RESULTS: T 0: most smokers showed abnormalities in tHcy and tCys concentrations. T 1: respiratory function was unchanged in P and slightly, but not significantly, improved in FV, whereas FVB showed a significant improvement in forced expiratory flow at 25% (FEF25; p < 0.0001 vs P and FV) and significant improvement in CO diffusion lung/alveolar volume (DLCO/VA). FV and FVB (50%) showed significant reduction in tHcy and tCys compared to T 0 ( p < 0.0001) and P ( p < 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: At T 1, both supplemented groups, but to a greater extent the FVB group, showed improvements in some pulmonary parameters, cardiovascular risk factors, and folate status. The beneficial effects of Juice Plus+ supplementation could potentially help smokers, even if smoking cessation is advisable. Be well! JP
February 9th, 2017 at 8:35 pm
Nutrients 2017, 9(2), 116
Effects of an Encapsulated Fruit and Vegetable Juice Concentrate on Obesity-Induced Systemic Inflammation: A Randomised Controlled Trial
Phytochemicals from fruit and vegetables reduce systemic inflammation. This study examined the effects of an encapsulated fruit and vegetable (F&V) juice concentrate on systemic inflammation and other risk factors for chronic disease in overweight and obese adults. A double-blinded, parallel, randomized placebo-controlled trial was conducted in 56 adults aged ≥40 years with a body mass index (BMI) ≥28 kg/m2. Before and after eight weeks daily treatment with six capsules of F&V juice concentrate or placebo, peripheral blood gene expression (microarray, quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR)), plasma tumour necrosis factor (TNF)α (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)), body composition (Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA)) and lipid profiles were assessed. Following consumption of juice concentrate, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and plasma TNFα decreased and total lean mass increased, while there was no change in the placebo group. In subjects with high systemic inflammation at baseline (serum C-reactive protein (CRP) ≥3.0 mg/mL) who were supplemented with the F&V juice concentrate (n = 16), these effects were greater, with decreased total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and plasma TNFα and increased total lean mass; plasma CRP was unchanged by the F&V juice concentrate following both analyses. The expression of several genes involved in lipogenesis, the nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) and 5′ adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) signalling pathways was altered, including phosphomevalonate kinase (PMVK), zinc finger AN1-type containing 5 (ZFAND5) and calcium binding protein 39 (CAB39), respectively. Therefore, F&V juice concentrate improves the metabolic profile, by reducing systemic inflammation and blood lipid profiles and, thus, may be useful in reducing the risk of obesity-induced chronic disease.