Where once sixteen ounce bottles of juice dominated the grab-and-go shelves of healthy fast casual establishments, now tiny bottles of juice shots have taken over their space. Less cumbersome than large bottles, juice shots are convenient to carry and quick to drink. Also, they usually weigh in at a fraction of the cost of a full-sized green juice. Juice shots tout more health claims than bottled juice, too. Rather than looking to replace your salad, they often claim to be able to replace the supplements you take. Is there merit to their claims, and can juice shots actually serve to replace pill supplements? Let’s find out.
The advantage of liquids: As a nutritionist, I’m no stranger to the liquids versus pills debate. The proliferation of liquid vitamins seems to know no bounds these days, with everything from prenatal complexes to daily multivitamins available in that format. Though traditionalists will claim pills are superior, logic dictates that in fact, liquids are. Why is that? Because you can only absorb the nutrients in a pill as well as your body can break its hard material down. Conversely, liquids remove your body from having to do any work, letting your gut and its potentially iffy abilities off the hook. The nutrients enter your system fully available, and your body processes them as they go through your gut.
Juice shot brand So Good So You co-founder and chief brand and innovation officer Rita Katona breaks it down (pun intended) further, noting that “When taking pills, or even when eating food, the body has to process or break down the solids into much smaller digestible particles and remove the fiber, so that the nutrients they carry can be absorbed through the lining of the stomach and intestines. By consuming liquids, this process is accelerated and optimized."
Knowing that the consumption of liquids will lead to easier absorption of nutrients, what matters most when comparing juice shots to pill supplements is what each is actually made of. We examined the most common juice shot ingredients to discern if you really can get more benefits from them than pills.
The size: Because juice shots come in such small containers, you may wonder if they contain enough of any of these functional ingredients to make a difference in your daily wellness. As foods such as ginger and elderberry are highly concentrated, it’s safe to say that the doses of them in juice shots should be impactful. Rita says users feel the effects of their shots, and I definitely notice a difference in being less prone to inflammation when I drink turmeric and ginger regularly. For powerful ingredients, it doesn’t take a huge quantity in order to have an effect, so the miniature nature of juice shots isn’t a problem.
How they compare to supplements: The main concern when looking to replace some of your pill supplements with juice shots is whether the supplements you take are available in juice form or not. Some vitamins, like B12, may require more sleuthing to find than others, such as C. If you regularly take supplements including probiotics, curcumin/turmeric, elderberry, and/or spirulina, though, juice shots are a worthwhile switch to consider making. With no effort needed from your digestive system, you may find that you notice the effects of these nutrients more when consuming them in juice shot format.
Ingredients with scientifically-backed benefits: Not surprisingly, the range of ingredients in juice shots is pretty vast. Some contain things that make no sense at all, such as charcoal, which due to its adsorptive property will make your body unable to process and assimilate all of the other ingredients in the shot, rendering the whole affair completely useless. But, most juice shots are indeed full of tried-and-true foods that have been proven to have major health benefits. Find the ingredients below.
Used for millennia in Eastern practices, ginger is well-proven to be effective for everything from reducing inflammation and pain to mitigating nausea, with a metastudy also noting that “the effectiveness of ginger in preventing or suppressing cancer growth has been examined in a variety of cancer types.” No brand does medicinal powerhouse ginger the justice it deserves like Monfefo, which cold presses sustainably sourced ginger root with organic lemon and honey, then packages it in recyclable glass containers. They’re the first, and thus far only, brand to offer juice shots in a plastic-free format.
Consider turmeric a co number one on this list rather than a number two when it comes to science-backed, Eastern based, highly beneficial ingredients. Turmeric is well proven to help with everything from arthritis to metabolic syndrome. Because of its bitter nature, it’s often mixed with other ingredients, such as in Goldthread Herbs turmeric shot, which balances its flavor with functional ingredients like cinnamon and orange peel.
This immune enhancing fruit proven to reduce both the duration and severity of colds has been popular as a syrup for some time, but is newer to the juice shot realm. Rita says that the So Good So You use of it in their immunity blend is “the first and only shot currently on the market that is manufactured with real elderberry juice rather than a processed powder or concentrate."
It’s considered blue green algae, but the standard version of spirulina is a very dark green. Conversely, the blue version of this algae is a particularly bright and instagrammable color, making it a pretty juice shot addition. Spirulina may be a potent anticancer, antiviral, and antiallergic agent.
California Poppy Extract
Used medicinally in other countries to the extent that it’s commonly sold in pharmacies, this extract is useful for promoting restful sleep and a sense of calm. So Good So You includes it in a “Sleep” shot that also has relaxing lavender.
The camu camu fruit boasts the highest vitamin C content of any berry, and is sold in shots with other ingredients high in C, such as bell peppers. One study notes that “a program to increase the visibility of camu camu can contribute substantially not only to the management of inflammatory conditions and its positive contribution to overall good health but also to its potential role in many disease states."
The necessity of arming our gut with beneficial flora can’t be overstated. Having a balance of bacteria that doesn’t allow for the proliferation of “bad” bugs like candida and e. Coli is the most straightforward way of keeping ourselves healthy. Rita says that her brand chose a specific type of probiotic, Ganeden BC30, because “it is one of the most widely researched and peer-reviewed probiotics available on the market." In addition to these ingredients, more niche functional foods such as oregano oil, echinacea, and matcha can also be found in some juice shots.