Thursday, February 14, 2008


Readers Respond (Feb. 14, 2008): Side Effects, Distributors With Attitude, and More Misleading Claims

From Anonymous (February 14, 2008)
Well I used Juice Plus based on the fact that my mother is using Juice Plus and doing well on it. I was taking the product for about six months or so and suddenly started having trouble with extremely heavy and painful periods. I went to the doctor and he wanted me to stop taking all vitamins, minerals and well, Juice Plus. I had the tests he required and everything is normal.Interesting thing happened. Less than thirty days of not taking Juice Plus, my cycle is back to normal. No pain, no heavy bleeding, nothing.

Here's what I didn't like. I told my distributor that my doctor wants me off all vitamins and Juice Plus until he can find out what's going on. She got extremely defensive and told me that I need to go to a seminar and hear a speaker who's a doctor talk about Juice Plus.

As she put it "He's a doctor, not some amateur doctor." Well I corrected her up and down the sun and reminded her that SHE's not a doctor. I've googled some of the doctors Juice Plus claims to be experts in this field. They're not what they claim. One claims to be an expert in exercise science when in fact he's a psychologist, and the other has some shady past.

Thanks for this blogspot. I plan to visit more often :)

Response from the JPRB
Mind boggling isn't it? Thanks for sharing your story and we are glad to hear that you recovered after discontinuing Juice Plus. To our knowledge, this is the first report of dysmenorrhea as a potential adverse effect of Juice Plus. We look forward to hearing from you again.

From Name Witheld At User's Request (February 14, 2008)
Hi, Dr. Juice Plus!I found your blog after my mother and aunt became JuicePlus distributors. My mother is seriously overboard on this stuff, and I found 99% of her claims hard to believe BEFORE ever reading any of the criticisms that you've posted. When I present her with a rational argument against JuicePlus, true to JP distributor form, she crosses her arms and says she just wants me to be healthy. Honestly, it can be uncomfortable at times.

Anyway, I thought I'd share just one of the incredulous/possibly dangerous juice plus claims that I've seen. My mom forwarded my wife the attached email and picture showing how Juice Plus makes umbilical cords super strong and healthy. Okay, great, a little pregnancy conjecture never hurts ... right? Can't be any worse than say rubbing salt on your elbow or some other old wive's tale?

Well, that is until, she started saying to take Juice Plus INSTEAD of prenatal vitamins. I wish I was joking, but she's said this on more than one occasion. I cringe every time I hear mention of Juice Plus. Luckily, my wife knows enough to shrug her off. See attached email and picture. Please redact my name--after all I did order a dose of Juice Plus from my mom just to make her happy... I couldn't finish it though, and I refuse to order any more.

Response from the JPRB
We appreciate your bringing these issues to our attention. We have seen other examples of distributors who claim that Juice Plus is a suitable substitute for prenatal vitamins. Sadly, these claims are false, irresponsible, and potentially dangerous.

We examined the nutrient profile of Juice Plus (based on U.S. bottle labels)[1] and compared it with 2 randomly chosen retail prenatal vitamin supplements[2][3][4] and with widely accepted guidelines for prenatal formulations (i.e. the Cleveland Clinic’s recommended nutrient amounts for prenatal vitamins).[5] What we found conclusively demonstrated the following:

Table 1: Nutrient and cost comparison of Juice Plus Orchard/Garden Blend (4 capsules per day) versus 2 randomly-selected retail prenatal vitamin formulations (Click on image for full size version). The nutrient profile of Juice Plus is compared with that of Nature Made and Puritan’s Pride prenatal vitamins (identified as first 2 hits on Google search for "prenatal vitamins") and relative to the Cleveland Clinic’s recommended nutrient amounts for prenatal vitamins (second column italicized). All of the nutrient amounts for Juice Plus either exceeded (vitamins A, C and E) or were below (folic acid, iron, and calcium) the Cleveland Clinic’s recommendations or are not listed as ingredients by the manufacturer (denoted by “--”). In contrast, Nature Made and Puritan’s Pride more closely met the Cleveland Clinic’s recommendations. Puritan’s Pride had the lowest daily cost (3 cents per day; $2.98 for a 100-day supply) followed by Nature Made (13 cents per day; $11.99 for a 90-day supply), while, at $1.38 per day ($166 for a 120-day supply), Juice Plus was by far the most expensive; 46 times and 11 times more expensive than Puritan’s Pride and Nature Made, respectively.

Some Nutrients Are Deficient or Absent in Juice Plus
1. Folic Acid/Folate: All medical authorities recommend a daily dose of 400 µg starting at least 1 month before conception and at least 600 µg/day during pregnancy (in addition to the folic acid consumed from food, which is actually not as easily absorbed as synthetic folate in a supplement).[6] Research has shown that consuming the recommended amount of folate during pregnancy can reduce the risk of neural tube defects in babies by up to 70%.

Most prenatal vitamins provide between 600 and 1000 µg/day of folic acid, which is more or less consistent with the Cleveland Clinic’s recommendation that prenatal vitamins should provide between 800 and 1000 µg/day folate. The 2 representative prenatal supplements used for our comparisons (Puritan’s Pride and Nature Made) provide an acceptable amount of folate (800 µg/day). However, Juice Plus provides a mere 320 µg/day folate, which falls far short (roughly 1/2 to 1/3) of the Clinic’s recommended amount.

2. Iron: The amount recommended during pregnancy is 27 mg/day, 50% more than the amount needed for people who are not pregnant. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that all pregnant women start taking a low-dose iron supplement of 30 mg at the first prenatal visit, either as an individual supplement or in a prenatal vitamin.[6]

Most prenatal vitamins contain between 27 and 60 mg of iron. Puritan’s Pride and Nature Made both fell within the acceptable range, providing 27 mg/day iron. However, once again, Juice Plus fell short, providing less than 1 mg/day of iron – less than 3% of the lower range recommended by the Cleveland Clinic.

3. Calcium: Most prenatal vitamins contain between 100 and 200 mg of calcium, but some don't contain any.[6] The Cleveland Clinic recommends that prenatal supplements should ideally provide between 200 and 300 mg/day calcium. Puritan’s Pride and Nature Made both fell within the acceptable range, providing 200 mg/day calcium. But Juice Plus again fell short, providing only 61 mg/day calcium – less than 1/3 of the lower range recommended by the Cleveland Clinic.

4. Other Nutrients: According to the manufacturer, Juice Plus does not contain any vitamin D, B1, B2, B6, B12; niacin, or zinc. The Cleveland Clinic’s guidelines for prenatal supplements establish recommended amounts for each of these nutrients, and the two representative products in our comparison fully met these guidelines for all but 2 of these nutrients (zinc and B12 amounts were higher than the Clinic's recommendations and vitamin E was slightly lower).

Juice Plus Contains Excessive Amounts of 3 Nutrients
The American Pregnancy Association advises that taking more than 100% the RDA of any nutrient should be avoided during pregnancy.[7] In comparison with the Cleveland Clinic guidelines, Juice Plus contains 3 nutrients (vitamins A, C, and E) at levels that vastly exceed 100% of the recommended amounts. The amounts of all 3 nutrients were at least double or more than the amounts suggested by the Cleveland Clinic. In contrast, the two representative prenatal supplements in our comparison generally did not exceed the Clinic’s guidelines (with the exception of zinc and B12).

Cost Differential
The cost per day of Juice Plus was compared with that of Puritans’ Pride and Nature Made prenatal formulations. Juice Plus is sold as a 4-month supply (480 capsules) at a cost of $166 USD (taxes not included). Puritans’ Pride is available as a 100-day supply (100 tablets) for $2.98, and Nature Made is sold for $11.99 for a 90-day supply (90 tablets). The daily cost of Juice Plus is $1.38 versus 3 cents for Puritan’s Pride and 13 cents for Nature Made; Juice Plus was 11 to 46 times more expensive than the 2 prenatal supplements.

Juice Plus Contains Ingredients Not Typically Recommended During Pregnancy
Juice Plus contains several synthetic antioxidant nutrient additives that are not typically recommended for or included in prenatal vitamin supplements. These include: anthocyanins, allicin, lycopene, polyphenol catechins, and indole carbinols.[1] The effects of these compounds prior to conception and on the developing fetus are largely unknown, and supplement doses that are safe or optimal during pregnancy have not yet been established.

Juice Plus should never be taken as a replacement for prenatal vitamins because it contains deficient amounts of 3 important nutrients for fetal development (i.e. folate, iron, and calcium). It appears to completely lack or contains undisclosed amounts of 7 other important nutrients (niacin, zinc, and vitamins D, B1, B2, B6, B12), and it contains excessive amounts of 3 other nutrients (vitamins A, C, and E). Since most experts and organizations advise against taking supplements with vitamin amounts that exceed the doses recommended for pregnancy, Juice Plus should never be combined with prenatal vitamins, since doing so would result in unnecessarily excessive doses of vitamins A, C, and E. Prenatal supplements that are widely available at retail outlets offer optimal levels of nutrients and sell for only a fraction of the cost of Juice Plus (a multilevel marketed product).


  1. Juice Plus Supplement Information - Ingredients (U.S.).
  2. Google Search: Prenatal vitamins. February 15, 2008.
  3. Puritain's Pride Prenatal Vitamins.
  4. Nature Made Prenatal Vitamins.
  5. Prenatal vitamins. The Cleveland Clinic Health Information Center.
  6. Prenatal vitamin supplements: A nutritional insurance policy. Baby
  7. Prenatal vitamins. American Pregnancy Association.

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