By Marissa Maule, graduate student in nutrition coordinated program
We often see companies targeting consumers with products that promise the health benefits associated with weight loss, increased metabolism, burning fat, and health miracles. Products fill the shelves containing vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and more, but they might not always result in the desired outcome.
Researchers looked at the blood concentrations of vitamins and minerals in participants consuming encapsulated fruit, vegetable, and berry (FVB) juice powder concentrate in a recent clinical study. The study population included those who consumed less than the recommendation of five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Participants in this study consumed six capsules a day for eight weeks. Blood samples were then taken from participants at the beginning of the study and again at the end of the eight weeks. The study was specifically looking at blood levels of vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, and carotenoids. These vitamins act as antioxidants and are important in reducing stress and inflammation in the body. Carotenoids also play a role as an antioxidant and are even being examined for a link to improved bone health. Antioxidants can be found in fruits and vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, papayas, bell peppers, and spinach. The researchers found that participants had an increase in blood levels of vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin C, and the following carotenoids: α-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, lycopene. Overall, the study determined that FVB juice powder concentrate can increase carotenoid and vitamin concentrations in the blood of people who do not consume the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables.
Looking at the Whole Food Approach
Consuming whole fruits and vegetables does significantly more than simply increase the blood concentrations of vitamins and minerals. Current research has found consumption of whole fruits and vegetables to be linked to decreased cardiovascular disease (CVD) and coronary heart disease risk, decreased blood pressure, lowered risk of developing type 2 diabetes, obesity prevention, and overall improved health status. Many of these desired health effects can be attributed to the fiber content found in whole fruits and vegetables. Fiber is a carbohydrate found in fruits and vegetables that cannot be digested. Consuming fiber can help regulate blood glucose and cholesterol levels, control hunger and satiety after a meal, and help regulate the body’s digestive system to prevent constipation. A high fiber diet has been linked to reduced risk of CVD, diabetes, diverticular disease, constipation, and breast cancer. Overall, a whole food approach of fruit and vegetable intake provides us with a huge variety of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, antioxidants, and polyphenols.
Based on the research, these green powders and vegetable pills are not going to harm you. If consuming the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables is not feasible, taking a supplement may be beneficial. It is important to keep in mind that supplements are not reviewed for safety or effectiveness by the FDA. It is important to do your research and read ingredient labels because supplements can contain a high dosage of some vitamins that can cause harmful side effects when given in toxic amounts. Our body can only absorb so much of a certain vitamin or mineral at a time, so overloading our body with a high dosage does nothing for us. Supplements are also expensive, and you can achieve those same desired outcomes by incorporating some extra fruits and vegetables into a meal. Instead of taking the place of whole foods, which give our bodies the nutrients they need, supplements can be a great addition. Overall, any supplement should be used for its main purpose: being a supplement to a well-rounded diet.