Athletic Greens & Nutritional Deficiencies
We’ve all heard a certain narrative a million times – due to the lack of access to healthy food, sunlight, exercise, and proper hydration, it’s imperative to supplement our diet. Otherwise, a deficiency can make you lethargic, bloated, weak, cause muscle spasms, brain fog, and the list goes on. While real deficiencies do occur and can be a real issue, most supplemental products want consumers to feel as if there’s a numerical formula to put the best fuel in the tank. Very exact percentage daily values are set for every vitamin and mineral that exists, yet the %DV on every label that exists is based off of a 2000 calorie diet with no regard to the eater’s size, gender, diet, or exercise. In reality, the body is a highly variable organism (not a machine). It wasn’t that long ago that consumers didn’t have access to everything all the time.
What would happen if you told a family on an American farm in the 1950’s that they didn’t have enough salmon in their diet so they should take fish oil pills? Our supply chain is so evolved we have access to every vitamin, mineral, and food from all corners of the world. What if you suggested to that same family that they incorporate chia seeds from Peru into their meals because there aren’t enough antioxidants in their food? Turmeric from India for inflation. Or brew kombucha because for the probiotics?
Today we have access to every ingredient around the world, and somehow it feels like we need enough of all of them to keep our bodies functioning optimally. If you don’t eat enough avocado, you could consider adding MCT Oil to your diet. This reductionist mentality oddly enough seems to encourage consumers to consume more, because it looks like every food has only one essential ingredient to use it for. Athletic Greens is a great example of "supplement anxiety".
With 75 ingredients, Athletic Greens (which has rebranded as AG1 recently) purports to provide, “the proper balance of vitamins and minerals is crucial for a well-functioning nervous system, and a fundamental building block of a strong immune system.” It is heavily advertised by health gurus and social media. It has every buzzword in it’s formula from spirulina algae, non-dairy probiotics, and an adaptogenic mushroom complex with ashwagandha and astragalus. Its founder claims to have suffered from chronic illness due to an inability to absorb nutrients, leading him to create the AG1 formula. While that may be something to consider, most people don't suffer from the same disorder.
A serving of AG contains 700mg of Vitamin C, the equivalent of eating 6 oranges.
AG has the Vitamin E of 16 avocados or about 1 cup of sunflower seeds (the Whole Foods bulk type, not the road trip snack). For the main pillars of the formula, are excessively high concentrations that one would never or very rarely be able to consume from a food quantity.
So this isn't a supplement to "get your daily vegetables". It's a lot extra. But for some of the other ingredients it advertises, it seems like it would actually be easier to just eat food.
B12: A 3oz filet of salmon has roughly twice the amount of B12 in a serving of AG1, and doesn’t produce neon urine.
Zinc: AG1 contains about the equivalent of 3 raw oysters worth of zinc.
I always try to use natural remedies whenever possible. Sometimes things work without having “the science” which is just clinical trials to prove it. There has been no research published on the AG1 formula or if it gets digested, metabolized, and absorbed for the body to make use of. However, there has never been a diet in history where a 75 ingredient formula sourced from all over the world (plus algae) and manufactured in New Zealand was necessary.