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Super Greens Powder Side Effects

Super greens can be a great way to get essential nutrients in one go. There can be side effects though from supplements that cut corners or use poor ingredients.

Key Takeaways

  • There can be side effects from consuming greens powders
  • Anyone taking medication, pregnant, or breastfeeding should seek advice first
  • Reputable greens powders can be good, just check the label!

Greens powders are a popular supplement. They’re good for energy and can help you get enough of the key vitamins and nutrients you need for your day. They also boost your immune system, improve your workout performance, and help you get a dose of nutrition on days when you just can’t squeeze another vegetable into your diet.

The answer to “Are greens powders good for you?” is a resounding and demonstrated yes!

However, like any new field, they’re poorly studied and regulated, which can lead to some dangers.

For example, many shady companies will overpromise wildly since the facts to disprove them aren’t in yet. When the dust settles, most reliable companies’ claims will still stand, but less than half of the unethical companies are likely to last. And that’s just the start of the problems…

5 Potential Side Effects of Green Powders

1. Allergic Reaction

One of the most common green powder side effects is an allergic reaction. These powders are blends of various plants and vegetables, and many contain one or several kinds of seaweed.

Seaweed is the riskiest part of green powders. Some people with very bad shellfish and seafood allergies are allergic to seaweed, too, possibly because in growing and harvesting it, some traces of shellfish inevitably get mixed into it.

It’s also possible that some people are just allergic to the seaweed itself, but since few people eat seaweed, to begin with, the sample size for finding out is meager. Carrageenan, a protein extracted from seaweed and used as a thickening agent and an emulsifier, has also been observed to cause allergic reactions.

There are other potential allergens in a greens powder. Green tea, another prevalent ingredient, is a fairly common allergen and can cause severe reactions. Many different herbs, such as wheatgrass, can also cause allergic reactions.

If you experience an adverse reaction, stop taking greens powder immediately

It may be challenging to find exactly which part of a complex blend, like a green powder, is causing a reaction.

If you experience an adverse reaction, stop taking greens powder immediately, but also examine the ingredients list for potential allergens. Then, try to find a different powder without those ingredients.

You may not be able to use the same powder you used before, but that doesn’t mean you must avoid them all.

2. Heavy Metal Damage

Some greens powders are contaminated with heavy metals, including lead and cadmium. These metals are not only highly toxic but also cumulative. This is because they don’t really leave your body.

So if you get two one-milligram (mg) doses of lead a year apart, you’ll have a more dangerous total of two mg of lead. That means even tiny amounts of contamination, received regularly, can add up quickly.

These contaminants (and others, such as bacteria) are a big problem but easy to avoid.

Green powders are not regulated by the FDA, which means any product can make it to store shelves or, worse still, the internet. Do your research, and look for third-party testing.

The government might not be testing products for safety, but that doesn’t mean there are no testers out there!

3. Medical Interactions

Occasionally, there can be some interactions with other medicines you’re taking.

For example, green powders are extremely high in Vitamin K. Most leafy greens are, but in the powders, it’s concentrated. Vitamin K is extremely important for your health, and it’s usually wonderful to get large amounts of it.

However, one function of Vitamin K is improving blood clotting, such as helping cuts heal quickly. That means some of the most unfortunate super greens powder side effects come when taking blood-related medication- for example, a blood thinner.

The blood-clotting effects of Vitamin K could undo the thinning work and lead to more clots.

The amount of Vitamin K you would ordinarily get in a day, even with a very healthy, greens-filled diet, is probably not enough to cause problems. But, since greens powder is so concentrated, it can add more Vitamin K to your diet than even the most herbivorous meal plan could- enough to seriously interact with other medications.

For example, too much Vitamin K can interact negatively with cholesterol medicine, antibiotics, and some weight-loss drugs besides blood thinners. So it’s essential to ask your doctor about interactions before taking a new supplement.

4. Less Nutrition

I know, ironic, isn’t it?

But here’s the thing. Any time food is processed in any way, it loses something. It’s like when people try to extract the flavor of fruit- say a grape, since we all probably remember the horrible taste of grape cough syrup as children.

Scientists pick out the compound that contributes most to the flavor and misses the hundreds or thousands of other compounds that only contribute a little bit.

The result doesn’t taste anything like a grape because even the strongest single element of a grape’s flavor is nothing compared to all the elements put together.

The reason for this extended metaphor is that the same thing can happen in a greens powder. Scientists figure out what parts of vegetables contribute most to their health, then extract those and leave the rest.

Greens powders are better than most of the lousy extracts you think of when you hear “processed food” because they’re not made using a chemical process, but there’s definitely a significant amount left out.

Fiber is the biggest thing missing, at least the most considerable thing currently known.

Vegetables contain lots of healthy fiber, and it’s almost all removed by the time they’ve been dehydrated and ground into a powder. But, much like people who synthesized “grape flavor” and couldn’t understand why it didn’t taste like grapes, there may be other parts of the vegetable that are unexpectedly crucial but are being left behind.

The best remedy for this problem is just to continue to eat a healthy diet with lots of whole-food fruits and vegetables in addition to your green powder supplements.

5. Unknown Variables

One of the biggest problems with greens powders is that they’re so new. Little research has been done, and new information is coming out daily. There could be other allergens that haven’t been noticed yet; there could be other contaminants in addition to heavy metals.

And if there’s one thing modern science has discovered, everyone responds in unique ways. So ultimately, you have to stay responsible for your own health; if a greens powder affects you, even one that hasn’t been studied or even reported before, you need to stop taking the supplement, and that’s all there is to it.

Any unknown dangers are still less likely in highly rated, third-party tested brands. In such a new field, it’s important to be careful. Few studies are in, but that shouldn’t keep you from living your best, healthiest life with just a hint of caution.

Which Powders Are Most Likely to Cause Side Effects?

The single powders most likely to cause side effects are the poorly-made, unreviewed ones. These are the ones churned out to capitalize on the trend, and they are not made by actual scientists who are trying to create a true health supplement.

Some companies, often based in China and sometimes in India, try to replicate popular products without knowing what they are or why they are made.

To avoid these, look for reputable brands. Keep an eye out for companies whose names you already recognize from other quality health food products, or failing that, make sure to find a product that’s third-party tested. The importance of this cannot be understated!

Without third-party testing, you might buy a powder contaminated with lead or salmonella.

Another good way to spot the most dangerous products is to read the label carefully.

Any typos or grammatical mistakes are a huge red flag. If a company isn’t thorough about its product copy, they’re not likely to be careful about its product itself. And above all, don’t buy greens powder–or literally anything else meant to be consumed in any way–from Wish.com.

Final Thoughts

Even the most reliable greens powder isn’t worth it for some people.

One reason would be if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding; almost all herbal supplements are not recommended for pregnancy or breastfeeding due to extremely limited studies on whether they are safe for infants. Again, much of this lack of analysis is because anything defined as a “supplement” is not under the jurisdiction of the FDA. The requirements are much less strict than for medication.

Allergies to certain common plants, such as seaweed, green tea, and wheatgrass, are also excellent reasons to steer clear of green powder supplements.

Even supplements without these triggers could be contaminated, as many brands are often made in the same factories. If you’re already aware of an allergy to any common plants included in many supplements, it may be better to be safe than sorry to avoid all green powders entirely.

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