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Q
A Quick Way to Get Your Five a Day?
Are you familiar with the whole food vitamin called Juice Plus+®? If so, what is your opinion of it?
A
Answer (Published 6/5/2002)

I am familiar with Juice Plus+®. It is a fruit and vegetable extract that comes in the form of capsules, wafers, soluble powder, chewable tablets, and "Gummies," all supposed to satisfy your need for nutrients without having to eat any fruits or vegetables. I object to Juice Plus+ products on two grounds: (1) how they're sold and (2) what they are.

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The products are sold exclusively through aggressive multi-level marketing - that is, you can buy them only through distributors who make money not only through their own sales but those of the people they recruit. I'm sorry, but I am prejudiced against multi-level marketing schemes.

As for the quality of Juice Plus+ products, my feeling is that they're suitable mostly for young children and seniors who otherwise wouldn't eat enough fruits and vegetables. The manufacturer claims that reducing fruits and vegetables to powder for eventual consumption in liquid, capsule or chewable forms removes none of the nutrients other than naturally occurring salt, sugar and calories. However, I don't think that swallowing a capsule is the way to get five or more daily servings of vegetables and fruit. While a chewable or "gummie" Juice Plus+ supplement may be a way to get recalcitrant youngsters to consume more micronutrients, these products aren't going to help kids develop the eating habits they need for good health throughout their lives. Another concern: If you don't eat fruits and vegetables, you're probably filling up on lower-quality foods that are too high in calories, unhealthy fats, and refined carbohydrates.

I've seen the research that Juice Plus+ has sponsored to validate the effectiveness of its products, and I am still not convinced that they are suitable substitutes for eating a healthy diet and taking a good multivitamin. I think there are better, healthier and more affordable ways to get those same effects.

As a better alternative, I would suggest making fruit smoothies and other blender drinks for kids. In my book, The Healthy Kitchen, Rosie Daley and I give several smoothie recipes, as well as recipes for delicious soups that incorporate lots of vegetables.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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