8greens has a huge celebrity following in the US and the fizzy supplement just dropped in the UK. We asked nutritionists for their verdict
What do Michelle Obama, Drew Barrymore and Zac Efron all have in common? Clue: it’s green, fizzy and you add it to water. 8Greens is the buzzy new supplement brand which has already garnered a loyal following among the aforementioned A-listers across the pond and landed in the UK this week. We know, we know, we really don't need yet another celebrity-endorsed wellness product, but given the Obamas are reportedly fans, it piqued our interest at least.
Michelle has always been a big healthy eating advocate. As First Lady, she led the Let's Move! public health campaign in the States and planted an organic vegetable garden at the White House, where she grew the likes of rocket and kale for meals with her family and guests. But the celeb following behind 8Greens is in large part down to founder Dawn Russell's own personal celebrity connections - she counts Gwyneth Paltrow and Drew Barrymore among her pals, and Zac Efron has posted about it. Russell says others heard of it organically through "word of mouth found," and when it first launched on Nordstrom it sold out in three hours. Her journey into the world of supplements was inspired by her own experience being diagnosed with stage III lymphatic cancer aged just 25 and subsequent recovery, though she is quick to assure that she is not promoting a link between her health today and taking the supplement.
But while we mere mortals know we need to eat more greens in our diet to promote things like better gut health – with many dieticians now recommending you aim for at least 30 different plants in your diet each week – not all of us have an organic food budget (or veg patch to grow our own on) so Russell says she wants to make it easier for even the biggest refuseniks to add more greens to their diets with her fizzy tablets, which contain extracts of eight phytonutrient-rich dehydrated greens to be exact: spinach, kale, aloe vera, wheatgrass, blue green algae, barley grass, chlorella and spirulina.
8Greens: a nutritionist's verdict
We know by now that when it comes to nutrition there's no such thing as a 'magic pill' - it's always better to source your nutrients from real food over supplements where possible. "Whole foods contain a wide variety of nutrients, phytochemicals (chemicals found naturally in plants), fibre and water too," says nutritionist Jenna Hope. Often the health benefits of eating whole fruits and vegetables come from "the combination of minerals and nutrients working in synchrony with each other – and from the fibre content which feeds our good gut bacteria and drives whole body health – which is lacking when we isolate nutrients," adds registered nutritionst Charlotte Faure Green.
Russell insists that while her supplements shouldn't be considered a replacement to a healthy diet, she describes it as a daily "booster." The heavy B vitamin content is designed to support energy levels, while vitamin C promotes a healthy-functioning immune system and by including dehydrated plant extracts (meaning they have not been heated), the brand says it has preserved the naturally-occurring phytonutrients they contain.
What do health experts make of 8Greens? "Ingredients like chlorella, barley grass, spirulina, are all rich sources of antioxidants and polyphenols, all of which act as anti-inflammatory compounds in the body and help to reduce inflammation and oxidative damage that occurs just from day-to-day living," says Faure Green. But she adds that they have also been heavily subsidised with added synthetic vitamins to meet the nutrient claims they make.
Generally speaking, vitamin C is best taken in food form, or in a slow-release capsule, so it is gradually absorbed throughout the day. "In one hefty dose in an effervescent tablet, it may be urinated out before being made useful, and may irritate sensitive bladders on the way out," she continues. "But I like they use a non-methylated form of vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) – the methylated form which is commonly used in off-the-shelf supplements is often an unsuitable form and may increase anxiety in some."
There is clearly a benefit in the convenience of tablets like 8Greens. "Greens powders can be a useful way to get additional nutrients into their daily diet, particularly if they have issues with digestion and so may not be able to digest fibrous greens in the amount they need to hit their daily nutrient goals (or have a deep aversion to eating any fresh fruit or vegetables). The tablet form of 8Greens is super convenient, more so than the old tubs of powders, so on days when you might be jumping on a flight or heading out for dinner where you know the vegetables may be scarce, they could be useful."
Isn't this just a 'green' Berocca?
The fizzy nature of the tablet will likely draw comparisons with other effervescent tablets like Berocca (which those who have tried them will know can turn your pee yellow), so how do they measure up?
Hope points out that Berocca tablets contain a wider variation of nutrients such as magnesium and more B-vitamins, but adds that Berocca also contains artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and acesulfame K, "additionally, the nutrients in Berocca are more synthetic than some of those found in 8Greens."
But she adds that 8Greens tablets do also contain bulking agents such as sorbitol "which is also commonly used as a sweetener and can contribute to bloating and flatulence in some."
8Greens: our verdict
For those of us who are constantly living frazzled on-the-go lives (and don't always get our recommended five-a-day), do these tablets deserve a place in your routine? While there's no harm in dropping one into your water bottle – this obviously isn't going to supplement a plant-based rainbow bowl or smoothie that's packed with fibrous fruit and veggies – so isn't likely to satisfy die-hard wellbeing warriors. Serious fans of greens will probably stick to the likes of WelleCo The Super Elixir, £62.40, The Beauty Chef Cleanse Inner Beauty Support, £38 and Athletic Greens Comprehensive and Convenient Daily Nutrition, £79 for one month, which contain even more 'greens,' though presumably jet-setters like Barrymore love 8Green tablets for their convenience.
And as an entry-level, pimping your water once a day, isn't a bad start.
When we tried the original lemon and lime flavoured 8Greens, we found the fizz-infused water refreshing but a little sweet (though not overly) with a light grassy hint – Russell is proud of the taste, which to get, she spent five years working her way through 264 prototypes of greens combinations. It did give us an energising pick-me-up at the usual 3pm slump, which felt better than reaching for yet another flat white.
All things considered, are we sold? At £14 for a tube of 10, that's £1.40 a pop, meaning it's cheaper than any green juice you could buy on the go, but considerably more when compared to, say, a Berocca tablet. We'll let you make the call!