Multivitamins vs Greens Powders: Which is Better For You?

(Last Updated On: May 9, 2022)

Most Americans don’t get enough vitamins and minerals in their regular diet. This is where greens powders and multivitamins come in.

While both offer health benefits, and an easy way to get essential vitamins and minerals, there are some key differences between the two.

In this article, we’ll compare greens powders and multivitamins, looking at the pros and cons of each and see which is better.

greens powders vs multivitamins

What are Multivitamins?

Multivitamins are exactly what they sound like – a dietary supplement that contains many different vitamins and minerals.

They come in pill or liquid form, and you can find them easily at your local drugstore.

The idea behind multivitamins is to help fill in the gaps in your diet.

For example, if you’re not getting enough Vitamin C from fruits and vegetables, a multivitamin can help supplement that.

Or, if you don’t eat enough dark leafy greens, a multivitamin with iron can help prevent anemia.

multivitamins

Do Multivitamins Even Work?

I have read before that multivitamins are completely useless and that no one should take them. The reasoning behind this was that the body couldn’t absorb any of the nutrients from multivitamins since it was in pill form and that people need to get their nutrients from actual food, which has nutrients the body can absorb.

As far as the absorption of the vitamins, I searched pretty hard, and the only thing I was able to find was a couple of websites stating that the body absorbed less than 10% of a multivitamin. Unfortunately, neither of those websites had a link to a study or research that backed up this number so it’s pretty inconclusive.

Then I came across this beauty. John’s Hopkins researchers published a study called “Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements”. In this study, they found that multivitamins did not reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer or mental decline. (1)

However, a very large multivitamin study was done called The Physicians’ Health Study II. In this study, a where a large group of male physicians took either a multivitamin or a placebo pill for more than a decade. This study found that multivitamins did not help with cardiovascular disease or cognitive decline but did find modest reductions in cancer and cataracts. (2)

What about multivitamins giving you energy and improving your quality of life?

I found a couple of studies that said multivitamins were found to increase energy levels and cerebral blood flow. Like this study, the problem is the study was paid for by Bayer Healthcare who makes the One-A-Day multivitamin,  so it’s not really a reliable study (3)

Overall, multivitamins might be a small help in some areas (Cancer and cateracts), but I wouldn’t rely on them for overall health.

 

Do Multivitamins Have Any Side Effects?

There is a small risk of side effects with multivitamins, such as upset stomach, diarrhea, and constipation. In rare cases, multivitamins can also cause allergic reactions. If you experience any of these side effects, stop taking the multivitamin and talk to your doctor.

 

What are Greens Powders?

Greens powders are dietary supplements that you can mix into water and other liquids. They’re usually made from greens like wheatgrass, spirulina, and chlorella, which are super dense in nutrients. They also often contain fruits and vegetables and probiotics, enzymes, herbs, and spices.

Greens powders usually come in powder form, and you can find them online or at some health food stores.

powdered greens drink

Do Greens Powders Work?

The theory is since greens are made from real food, the essential vitamins are more easily absorbed than they are with synthetic vitamins. But does it work?

Eh, maybe…

A study done by the Logan College of Chiropractic found that “After taking the (greens) supplement for 90 days, both systolic and diastolic blood pressures decreased significantly in the treatment group”. The same study also found that “No significant blood pressure decrease was observed in the control group”(4)

The problem is a greens manufacturer did the study. Sadly enough, this study actually got cited by WebMD and Healthline. Sorry, studies done by the manufacturer just don’t count for much.

Some probiotics are added to super greens powders which also help with immune function and digestion.

Green powder containing green tea have also significantly increased energy levels in a 12-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Of course, that’s more likely due to the green tea rather than the greens. (5)

Overall there isn’t really a lot of research on greens powders, especially research that isn’t funded by companies that make green powder.

All that being said, I would say there is some benefit to super greens powders. Probably not as much as some of the greens companies would want you to believe

 

Do greens powders have any side effects?

There is a small risk of side effects with super greens powders, such as upset stomach, diarrhea, and constipation. If you experience any of these side effects, stop taking the greens powder and talk to your doctor.

 

Pros and Cons of Multivitamins

Pros

  • You can supplement your diet with missing nutrients
  • They’re relatively cheap
  • They’re easy to take

Cons

  • The body might not absorb all of the nutrients
  • They might not have any effect
  • There is a small risk of side effects

Pros and cons

Pros and Cons of Greens Powders

Pros

  • You can supplement your diet with missing nutrients
  • The vitamins and minerals are likely more easily absorbed
  • Natural ingredients

Cons

  • There is a small risk of side effects
  • Expensive

 

Multivitamins vs. Green Powders — Which is Better for You?

There is no easy answer when it comes to whether greens powders or multivitamins are better for you. It really depends on your diet and what nutrients you might be lacking. If you have a balanced diet, you might not need either of these dietary supplements. However, if you’re deficient in certain vitamins and minerals, greens powders or multivitamins may help you get your nutrients. There is a risk of side effects with both greens powders and multivitamins, so it’s important to talk to your doctor before taking either of these supplements.

Personally, if I had to choose between the two, I would go with powdered greens. They are more expensive, but I think the pros outweigh the cons. Additionally, since greens powders are made from real food. I think they are more likely to positively affect my health than multivitamins. At a bare minimum, greens will give you a good dose of fiber. The minimum with multivitamins is no benefit at all. So if you’re considering taking either of these supplements, super greens powders are the way to go.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I just drink powdered greens or take multivitamins in place of food?

No, you should not use greens powders or multivitamins as a replacement for real food. These supplements are meant to be taken in addition to a balanced diet.

Which Supplement is Better on a Budget?

Multivitamins are generally less expensive than greens powders. However, if you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, greens powders are a better choice since they contain more nutrients that are easily absorbed by the body.

Can I take too many greens powders or multivitamins?

Yes, it is possible to take too many greens powders or multivitamins. If you’re taking more than the recommended dose, you may experience side effects such as diarrhea, constipation, and upset stomach. If you experience any of these side effects, stop taking the supplement and talk to your doctor.

Should I take a greens powder or multivitamin if I’m not deficient in any nutrients?

If you have a balanced diet, you probably don’t need to take a greens powder or multivitamin. However, if you’re interested in taking these supplements for preventive health, there is no harm in taking them. Just be sure to talk to your doctor first to make sure they

I’m a vegetarian/vegan, do I need to take a greens powder or multivitamin?

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, I would go with powdered greens. I would look for one with higher levels of protein, too, like the greens from Kylea Health.

 

  1. Guallar E, Stranges S, Mulrow C, Appel LJ, Miller ER 3rd. Enough is enough: Stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements. Ann Intern Med. 2013 Dec 17;159(12):850-1. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-159-12-201312170-00011. Erratum in: Ann Intern Med. 2014 Jan 21;160(2):143. PMID: 24490268.
  2. Gaziano JM, Sesso HD, Christen WG, et al. Multivitamins in the Prevention of Cancer in Men: The Physicians’ Health Study II Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA. 2012;308(18):1871–1880. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.14641
  3. Kennedy DO, Stevenson EJ, Jackson PA, Dunn S, Wishart K, Bieri G, et al. Multivitamins and minerals modulate whole-body energy metabolism and cerebral blood-flow during cognitive task performance: a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2016;13:11. doi: 10.1186/s12986-016-0071-4
  4. Arcusa, R.; Carrillo, J.Á.; Xandri-Martínez, R.; Cerdá, B.; Villaño, D.; Marhuenda, J.; Zafrilla, M.P. Effects of a Fruit and Vegetable-Based Nutraceutical on Biomarkers of Inflammation and Oxidative Status in the Plasma of a Healthy Population: A Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind, and Randomized Clinical Trial. Molecules 202126, 3604. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26123604
  5. Boon H, Clitheroe J, Forte T. Effects of greens+: a randomized, controlled trial. Can J Diet Pract Res. 2004 Summer;65(2):66-71. doi: 10.3148/65.2.2004.66. PMID: 15217524.
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