Does Using Juice Plus+ Products Make Sense?

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

Question

Friends have told me that they felt better after taking Juice Plus. I don't always eat the 5-9 daily portions of fruits and vegetables that the government recommends. Does using Juice Plus+ products make sense?

Answer

It is not necessary to consume 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day to achieve adequate intake of the vitamins (mainly A, C, and folic acid) these foods feature. The recommended number is high to (a) promote adequate fiber intake and (b) create a dietary mix that is low to moderate in fat. Vitamin pills, Juice Plus+ pills, and juices, can contain the same amounts of vitamins and minerals as whole fruits and vegetables. However, they do not contain the same amount of dietary fiber. The pills and many of the juices contain little or no fiber. That's why experts recommend that nutrients be obtained from food, not pills or potions. Juice Plus+ sales aids even acknowledge that taking Juice Plus+ is not as good as eating the recommended amounts of grains, fruits, and vegetables. But they also state that everyone should take Juice Plus+, including people whose diets contain adequate amounts of the nutrients in Juice Plus+.

Juice Plus+ literature has also alleged that the "natural food enzymes" in Juice Plus+ provide an additional benefit. However, they are digested and perform no enzyme function within the body. However, the enzymes in food have no nutrititional significance beyond their nutrient content, which is minuscule because they comprise only a tiny percentage of the plant's weight.

"Feeling better" after taking a product is not a valid measure of effectiveness. The way most people feel varies a lot from time to time, so that nearly all will have days or weeks when they feel better than they did for a some previous period of time whether or not they take some vitamin pill. Juice Plus+ marketers have never demonstrated through well-designed research that people who take their products feel better than similar people who do not. That's not surprising because there is no physiologic reason why the ingredients in Juice Plus+ products could influence how people feel from day to day. Some phytonutrients (plant chemicals) may play a role in whether a few diseases develop over a period of many years. However, it makes more sense to get these substances from foods rather than from pills.

I don't know whether Juice Plus+ products cost more or less than their "vitamin/mineral equivalents" in fruits or vegetables. But in the real world, Juice Plus+ is not actually substituted for food. It is added, typically at a cost of about $500 per year per person. I believe this is a colossal waste of money.

For a comprehensive report, see Juice Plus: A Critical Look

This page was revised on July 2, 2006.

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