Green powders and multivitamins are among the commonly used supplements for health.

While each offers different nutritional content and benefits, one is not necessarily better than the other. In fact, having a healthy diet is the best way to meet nutritional needs, according to Health, Dietetically Speaking and Johns Hopkins Medicine.

What are green powders?

According to WebMD, green powders are a dietary supplement aimed at helping individuals meet their daily vitamin and mineral needs. The nutrient blend is designed to boost immune function, energy levels and diet.

Green powders generally contain a variety of ingredients — around 25 to 40 — depending on the brand or health objectives they’re designed to address.

Here are some common ingredients, per Healthline:

  • Leafy greens: spinach, kale and parsley.
  • Seaweed.
  • Other vegetables: broccoli, beets, carrots, green cabbage or tomatoes.
  • Grasses: barley grass, wheatgrass, alfalfa grass or oat grass.
  • High-antioxidant fruits: blueberries and raspberries.
  • Nutritional extracts: green tea extract and grape seed extract.
  • Probiotics.
  • Plant-based digestive enzymes.
  • Herbs.
  • Mushrooms.
  • Natural sugar substitutes.
  • Extra fiber: rice bran, inulin or apple fiber.
Green powders to buy according to taste

According to Bon Appétit staff, the best tasting green powders include:

Benefits of green powders

In a study published by ScienceDirect, taking green powders improved immune function and reduced inflammation.

In another study, published by Frontiers, green powders were found to improve gut health by growing good bacteria and reducing inflammation.

Per Verywell Fit, other benefits of green powders include:

  • Rich nutrient sources.
  • Energy and vitality support.
  • Digestive health.
  • Immune function.
  • Detoxification.

Roxana Ehansi, a board-certified sports dietitian and registered dietitian nutritionist in Miami, Florida, told Health, “Only 10% of Americans are meeting their dietary goals for fruits and vegetables. Supplementing with a greens powder can help them get their fruits, veggies, vitamins and minerals and fill in dietary shortfalls.”

Problems associated with green powders

Liz Weinandy, a registered dietitian nutritionist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center told Health, “As a long-time practicing Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I do not generally recommend (green powders).”

According to Weinandy’s conversation with Health, green powders are:

  • Not close to the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables individuals should have per day.
  • Are too expensive for what you get.
  • Do not match an individual’s nutrient needs.

Morgan Goodstadt, a functional registered dietitian nutritionist at Good Nutrition said, “In 2019, Consumer Labs found trace amounts of lead and arsenic in several greens powders. If you are drinking these every day, it’s very important to ensure that the company is continuously testing for heavy metals and pesticides,” per EatingWell.

Dietetically Speaking agrees with both Weinandy and Goodstadt, noting that people interested in green powders should consider:

  • Their inferiority to whole foods.
  • Lack of regulation.
  • Possible contaminants.
  • Risks associated with overdoing on supplements.
  • Medication or pregnancy interactions.
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Who should take multivitamins?

According to Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, individuals should take multivitamins if they do not have a healthy diet or are at a higher risk for a nutrient deficiency. Reasons to take a multivitamin include:

  • Eating a limited diet or poor appetite.
  • Following a restricted diet for longer than a week.
  • Body is not absorbing nutrients due to a condition or surgery.
  • Increased nutrient needs, such as being pregnant.
  • Not eating a balanced diet.
Downsides of multivitamins

Per Johns Hopkins Medicine, multivitamins:

  • Do not reduce the risk for heart disease.
  • Do not reduce the risk for cancer.
  • Do not reduce the risk for cognitive decline.
  • Do not reduce the risk of an early death.
  • May be harmful at high doses.

Larry Appel, director of the Johns Hopkins Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinic Research said, per Johns Hopkins Medicine, “Pills are not a shortcut to better health and the prevention of chronic diseases. Other nutrition recommendations have much stronger evidence of benefits — eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight.”

Eve Glazier and Elizabeth Ko, associate and assistant professors of medicine at the University of California, respectively, told UCLA Health that taking a multivitamin is unnecessary if you are eating a balanced diet and not deficient in vitamins or minerals.

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How do multivitamins compare to green powders?

According to health experts, both multivitamins and green powders have downsides. However, they may be beneficial to take if you are deficient in certain nutrients. But the best option would be to eat a healthy diet.

Per Healthline, a healthy diet includes whole foods, full servings of fruits and vegetables and nutrient rich foods. Specific examples of good items to add to your menu include:

  • Kale.
  • Seaweed.
  • Liver.
  • Brazil nuts.
  • Shellfish.
  • Sardines.
  • Yellow bell peppers.
  • Cod liver oil.
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