Red Flags: Juice Plus Edition

Recently, I was asked to give a talk to a group of moms.  A couple of weeks after I’d agreed to give the presentation, the organizer told me that my presentation would be after a Juice Plus sales person gave a 20 minute presentation (I was asked to speak for an hour).  Needless to say, I was a little annoyed.  However, I thought it would actually be an opportunity to hear their pitch and to be honest, I didn’t really know that much about the product, so I wanted to keep an open mind.  It didn’t take long for me to get good and hot — and I mean angry at the deceptive comments made by the representative.  To her credit, I suspect that she’d been given bad information.  I don’t think she’s a sheister or intentionally misleading people.  I think she’s been sold a bill of goods and she’s selling it on down the line.  It made my stomach tie up in knots.  Here’s the deal…

Mature woman and her choice -  pills or fruitI am not anti supplement.  I take a multivitamin mineral supplement – when I remember.  I take probiotics, as needed (you should chat with a knowledgeable registered dietitian or your doctor first).  I’ve also taken herbs for transient (read: things that come and go) conditions (also discuss with your doc).  But mostly I eat a healthy diet and focus on feeding my family really nutritious foods.  There are facts that people should know to help make better choices when it comes to supplements.  And supplements should not be taken haphazardly with the idea that they are “natural” so they don’t hurt you.  That’s not necessarily true!  Moreover, many people may be at risk when they take supplements — especially when taken in very high amounts AND especially children.  So let me share with you some of the things this person shared that got me so hot.

Juice Plus is food, not a supplement.  That’s why it has a nutrition label.”  FALSE

Juice plus is a DIETARY SUPPLEMENT.  It is not a food.  It may be made from food, but it is not regulated or sold like food.  It is sold and regulated like a dietary supplement.  And while the maker indicates that it’s made from food, some researchers believe there’s no way the amounts of vitamins would be found in the supplements without added synthetic vitamins and minerals.  In fact, they do fortify their product with additional vitamins and minerals.  By suggesting that they are the “next best thing” to fruits and veg, they give the false impression that JP is somehow almost equal, but it IS NOT!  JP is missing all kinds of things that we might not yet even recognize, but at least fiber and phytochemicals.  It’s like eating white bread that’s had the nutrients extracted and just some of them added bacVeggiesk claiming to be “just as nutritious” as whole grain bread.

The NSF label is better than the Non-GMO label.  It’s more strict than that and the organic label.” FALSE

The NSF label is about good manufacturing practice and product content and has nothing to do with GMO or organic agriculture labeling.  You can read an easy article about certifications and the issues here.  The fact is that dietary supplements, including Juice Plus, are not well regulated by the government.  Some independent tests have shown JP did not include all of the vitamins or minerals they advertise.  If you want to buy safer, more reliable dietary supplements, I advise look for the USP symbol since it’s been around a lot longer than NSF.

I gave my baby the gummy vitamin and the protein shake.” NO!

I almost fell out of my chair.  And I wasn’t even in one.  Never, never give your baby dietary supplements without first discussing with your pediatrician.  Baby’s systems are sensitive.  They have the potential to be very susceptible to damage from too much of all sorts of vitamins and minerals, especially fat soluble ones (ADEK) and iron.  Most children do not need a supplement if they are eating a varied diet and supplementation of infants should be done under the care of a doctor.  If you’re worried about your child’s diet, see a dietitian who works with children and families.

There’s tons of research that’s been published in the journals that doctors read.”  FALSE

There has been some research.  Nearly all of it has been funded by JP.  Now, not all funded research is bogus.  However, the research that was funded by JP that showed positive results were either (1) very small positive results and often not statistically significant (which means they might have happened by chance and not cause) or (2) were not reproducible (which means that when they tried it again, the same results were not found).  Studies that show an increase in blood levels of certain nutrients don’t necessarily mean that an increase in these nutrients is good for us.

Here’s my experience…”  PLEASE DON’T

Your experience is not science.  What worked for you does not pass for sound medical advice, which is often what they’re trying to do.  In this case, the woman even said that she took her child off of all of his asthma meds and replaced them with JP!  STOP!  This could be so very dangerous. If you are a generally healthy individual and you want to try JP because your bestie said she feels a hundred a twenty percent better on it, go right ahead.  Try it.  It’s probably not going to hurt you at all (except maybe your pocketbook).  But be so cautious with the health of your child.  Don’t stop taking or giving your kiddo meds without first discussing with your doctor.

The other thing is JP is a multilevel marketing company.  Salespeople (representatives) have a vested interest in convincing you to buy their product.  They sell through sharing their own unique almost-magic story and by hooking into the part of you that wants to believe that good health can be captured in a pill, along with that part of you who is afraid of becoming ill (or worse, letting down your kids or husband) because you “know you should eat better.”   And, oh by the way, you can also supplement your own income by selling it too!  They have an inherent conflict of interest.

Don’t just take my word for it, okay?  Before you spend more than a hundred bucks on food extracts (which would be so much better spent on real food), do a little research.  And remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Here’s a start:


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  2. Cheyna palmer

    This is a great article. Could you also do a write-up on Shakeology? As a dietitian it drives me nuts to see these coaches shove this down our facebook throats. I would do it myself, but being in the middle of grad school is taking up all of my time. Love this and will be sharing and referring to it. Thank you

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