Are you worried that you’re not getting enough nutrients from your diet?
You may be among the 52 percent of Americans who utilize dietary supplements (e.g. multivitamins or multimineral supplements) to complete their diets.
But here’s the catch, studies have found that you may not be getting the recommended amounts of nutrients from your supplements.
According to researchers, while there are a variety of multivitamins [and vitamin D supplements available for children in the UK] the majority of them do not provide the recommended 400 IU/day (1).
This is concerning because children who are deficient in vitamin D are at risk of rickets — a condition that affects bone development, which can in extreme cases result in soft, weak and deformed limbs.
This is why both the quality and quantity of ingredients in the supplement matter. Green powders are no exception.
While supplement manufacturers may claim there are scientific studies backing up their product, ingredients within the supplements can often be at a much lower potency than the minimum amount required to attain the effect quoted in research papers.
This is why it is important for you to know about the ingredients in your super greens, the effects that the ingredients should have and their minimum required amounts.
Sounds daunting, doesn’t it?
Fear not, this is why we have compiled a list of four potent ingredients found in super greens to save you from asking the question “how much of these do I need?”.
Spirulina is a form of blue-green algae produced from Arthrospira bacteria — don’t worry, it is non-toxic and perfectly safe for consumption. Remember, some bacteria are healthy!
In fact these tiny algae are packed with vitamins and minerals. On average, a single tablespoon of dried spirulina powder contains:
- Protein: 4g
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): 11 percent of RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance)
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 15 percent of RDA
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 4 percent of RDA
- Copper: 21 percent of RDA
- Iron: 11 percent of RDA
- Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids: 1g
- Spirulina also contains a fair amount of potassium, manganese, and magnesium.
Being such a powerhouse of nutrition, spirulina has been found to have multiple health benefits. Packed with phycocyanin, a powerful antioxidant, research has found that consuming spirulina has extremely antioxidative and anti-inflammatory benefits for the consumer1.
Studies on spirulina found that it improves health markers. For example, just 1g of spirulina per day decreased “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides by up to 16.3% and increases “good” HDL cholesterol too (2).
Recent research also suggests that spirulina may have cancer fighting properties.
Among individuals with precancerous lesions (oral submucous fibrosis) in the mouth, 45 percent of those who took 1g of spirulina daily over a year saw the disappearance of these lesions (3).
While these studies utilize various dosages of spirulina the recommended amount of spirulina for noticeable benefit is between 1-8g per day, depending on the individual.
Spirulina isn’t the only nutrient-dense food from the algae family.
Chlorella is a form of freshwater algae that also boasts an impressive nutritional profile.
It is a complete protein source (meaning it has all nine essential amino acids), vitamin B12, iron, vitamin C, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and small amounts of other minerals such as calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium and zinc (4).
Research has found that consuming 5-10g of chlorella daily lowered LDL cholesterol and triglycerides among people suffering from elevated cholesterol levels and/or mildly high blood pressure (5).
Chlorella has also been found to fortify the immune system, allowing a stronger immune response to be produced.
One study found that individuals who took 5g of chlorella daily over four-weeks saw a significant increase in antibodies (when compared to the placebo group). The increase in antibodies may improve your body’s ability to fight infection (6).
To our knowledge, the current scientific literature has not specified a dosage for chlorella. Some studies have found benefits using 1.2g of chlorella a day, while others saw positive effects at doses of 5-10g per day (7).
As a rule of thumb, try to stick between the range of 1-10g per day. This is because existing studies on chlorella are conducted in this range and there were no reports on overdose.
If you are just starting out on chlorella supplementation it is recommended that you start with lower dosages to give your body time to adapt and therefore monitor your suitability to potentially consume higher dosages.
For those who are into brain foods ginkgo should be a familiar ingredient.
Ginkgo Biloba is a popular supplement that has roots in China. It is harvested from the leaves of a ginkgo plant.
Ginkgo is said to have a variety of health benefits such as improved brain functioning, enhancing blood circulation, and reducing symptoms of anxiety.
A study on 170 people suffering from generalized anxiety disorder found that those who were treated with 240mg of ginkgo saw a significant decrease in symptoms of anxiety (45 percent more than the placebo group) (8).
Another study found that consuming 180mg of ginkgo biloba extract per day over the course of six weeks resulted in an improvement in memory recollection and recognition performance on assigned tasks (9).
Unfortunately, there is no specific dosage for ginkgo consumption as different studies utilize different dosages. However, existing literature on ginkgo research seems to suggest that 120-240mg per day is a safe range for taking without compromising on the benefits it brings (10).
On a side note, do not eat raw ginkgo seeds as they are poisonous. The research conducted on ginkgo reflects results using purified extract — which is similar to the ones found in ginkgo supplements.
Rhodiola Rosea is a medicinal herb that comes from the cold mountain regions of Asia and Europe.
Rhodiola Rosea is known to have adaptogenic properties. This means that they assist your body to better manage daily environmental stressors.
As a medicinal herb, Rhodiola Rosea is believed to offer multiple health benefits when consumed (for example improved cognitive functioning, emotional well-being).
Research has found that doctors who were on night duty experienced less mental fatigue and saw improvements in work performance when they consumed 170mg of Rhodiola per day (11).
Another six-week study on individuals with mild or moderate depression found that those who consumed 340mg of Rhodiola daily reported significant improvements in depression symptoms (e.g. improved sleep, increased emotional stability and elevated levels of self-esteem) (12).
When it comes to finding the right amount of Rhodiola to consume, Examine.com reveals that one should consume between 288-680mg for its anti-fatigue and stress reduction benefits (13).
The Million Dollar Question: Are you getting enough from your supplements?
So after uncovering the ideal amounts of each super food, backed up by scientific recommendations, you are probably wondering what you should now do with all this information.
It may provide an opportunity to reflect and reevaluate what your own needs are and how you are currently supplementing your diet. Check whether any supplements are actually providing you with the optimal amount of each ingredient to ensure that you are getting all the benefits.
Why do we suggest this?
As previously mentioned, we happen to believe that the amount of the ingredients within many supplement products are much less than what the research papers suggest for optimal benefit.
The easiest way to prove this point is to demonstrate what we’ve found.
We’ll be looking at a few popular super greens on the market as they commonly have the following ingredients: spirulina, chlorella, ginkgo biloba and rhodiola rosea.
Here is a summary of the recommended amounts of each ingredient:
Example 1: Dr. Axe Organic Super Greens
Dr. Axe Organic Super Greens is a popular super greens brand that boasts multiple powerful ingredients such as Spirulina and Chlorella.
Let’s take a closer look.
Under their Organic greens, Veggie, and Fruit Blend (4,750 mg), it consists of Oat Grass Juice, Alfalfa Grass Juice, Beet (root), Carrot (root), Spirulina, Wild Blueberry (fruit), Pomegranate (fruit), Goji (berry), Chlorella, Broccoli (stalk and flower), Spinach (leaf), Kale (leaf), Acai (berry), Elderberry (fruit), Noni (fruit).
While it does look impressive at first glance, take a moment to think.
Given that this mix has 15 ingredients and is only at 4,750 mg per serving, what are the odds that both Spirulina and Chlorella are above 1g?
I’d say it’s pretty low.
On average, you’ll be only getting about 300 mg of each ingredient per serving — a far cry from the minimum amount of 1g to get the benefits of Spirulina and Chlorella.
So would this product provide you the benefits of Spirulina and Chlorella? I think you can decide that for yourself.
Example 2: Bulk Powders Complete Greens
Bulk Powders Complete Greens is another popular super greens on the market that prides itself on providing you generous and effective dosages of each ingredient.
While this product does a good job of stating how much of each ingredient is in each serving, the amounts may be less than ideal.
In addition to all the other ingredients, each serving of Bulk Powders Complete Greens comes with 900 mg of Spirulina, 410 mg of Chlorella, and 90 mg of Gingko Biloba Extract.
Clearly this product, despite proclaiming that their ingredients consist of these superfoods, just does not contain enough of them!
How do you expect to get the benefits of Chorella and Gingko when the dosage is half of the minimum recommended amount?
That said, not all super greens are made poorly. There are some high-quality ones that offer the right amount of ingredients.
Super Greens Tonik: Providing the right amount of the right ingredients
Here at Super Greens Tonik, we believe in choosing the best quality ingredients in potent quantities to ensure that our consumers would be able to attain the health and productivity benefits that these superfoods offer.
We also believe in being transparent with our super greens formula. We don’t hide any of our ingredients behind facing sounding terms like proprietary blends.
Super Greens Tonik acknowledges the benefits of Spirulina, Chlorella, Ginkgo Biloba, and Rhodiola Rosea — hence, all of these ingredients are included in our formula.
In our formula, we included Organic Spirulina Powder (2000 mg), Organic Chlorella (1000 mg), Ginkgo Biloba Powder (250 mg), and Rhodiola Root Powder (300mg).
Each of our ingredients is included in optimal amounts to make sure that our product fulfills the minimum requirement to attain the positive effects of these superfoods as stated in research papers.
Not all super greens are bad. Consider adding Super Greens Tonik into your diet to ensure that you give your body and mind all the required nutrients and attain the health and performance benefits of superfoods — all in one easy drink.
If there is one key takeaway that I wish you get from this lengthy article, it’ll be to “know your ingredients and check that you are getting the right amounts from your supplements”.
Do not be fooled by the fancy names and claims made by companies, they may not be as good as they claimed — they are trying to persuade you to buy their product after all.
It is good that you are looking to invest in dietary supplements, such as super greens, for your health — but it is important that you make the right decision.
Before you purchase any supplement product, here are some things that you should do:
- Check out the ingredients and the amounts per serving on their product label.
- Do some research on the ingredients to find out their properties (Note that Spirulina, Chlorella, Gingko Biloba, and Rhodiola aren’t the only ingredients you should be looking out for).
- Check if the amounts per serving match the amounts recommended by science.
- Avoid products that boast “proprietary blend” — you can refer to the aforementioned examples, you cannot tell what the specific amounts of each ingredient are in the blend!
Supplements often get a bad name and you may ask are green powders a waste of money?. But super greens powders are not all the same, the fact is some may not truly worth a bang for your buck.
Ultimately, we cannot control what goes into a supplement product, but we can control whether or not we choose to use the product.
There’s no point choosing a product that claims to have multiple health benefits when they offer suboptimal dosages. Be smart and sharp when it comes to purchasing supplements — amounts do matter!