As we all know, some of the reasons customers might reach for a particular product on the shelf include price, sales-pitch (unique selling point) and familiarity with the brand.
Gundry MD Vital Reds is another product that claims to harness the power of plants and deliver it directly to us. Similar to other superfoods powders, the claim is that through providing you with all the fruits and veggies you need in a day, in one handy dose, you can improve your overall health.
So what exactly does Vital Reds do and why should we be taking it every day? Read on to find out more.
Looking at the Gundry.MD website, Vital Reds is highlighted under ‘Best Seller’. The site claims that Vital Red’s “revolutionary formula combines the power of 34 polyphenol-rich superfruits with natural fat-burning ingredients and probiotics.” So far so informative. But what do all these fabulous ingredients do? The blurb further claims that;
Vital Reds helps your body maintain higher energy levels, better digestion, and healthier-looking skin.
I’m interested in finding out exactly what these ingredients do, after all, we could just choose to buy any different superfood product which promises to have polyphenols as ingredients.
So what sets Gundry MD Vital Reds apart from the pack?
Background on Gundy MD
As I mentioned above I have previously reviewed other products by Gundry MD, so I already know a little bit about the business and the man behind the brand.
Steven Gundry (MD) is a former Cardiac surgeon who moved into the market of wellness products when he developed a theory that diet is the bedrock of all human health issues. Establishing the Center for Restorative Medicine, he went on to look at how some common beliefs about ‘health foods’ are perhaps not as they seem.
His most recent theory is that Lectins within legumes and other plant foods are harmful to the gut. This has been widely debunked as ‘pseudoscience’. Nevertheless, Gundry is as popular as ever, and he has written several books including the best-selling ‘Plant Paradox: the hidden dangers in ‘healthy’ foods that cause weight gain’.
Due to the longstanding nature of the business, Gundry MD products have a solid reputation amongst the superfood customer base. Many of Gundry’s products seem similar to others in the wellness sphere. The range includes superfoods blends, probiotics and slimming aids.
What seems to be more unique is that some of their products – which center around the ‘leaky gut’ theory – look at preventing damage to health by protecting the body from toxins in foods. For example, their ‘lectin shield’, and Total Restore blend, of which they claim to have sold over 2 million jars.
I happen to believe that doctors have a responsibility to check their evidence when supporting the health claims of any products, and I’m also interested in how they can forge impressive careers in the wellness sphere selling products which become bestsellers. So, taking Vital Reds as an example, I’ll look for more detail on the basis for these claims.
Vital Reds Ingredients
Vital Reds is a blend of fruits and vegetables, containing vitamins, minerals, other herbal extracts and probiotics.
The listed ingredients are as follows:
- Reds Blend (1,760 mcg)
- Carrot, organic apple peel, grape skin extract, Aronia berry extract, organic flaxseed, grape seed extract, acai fruit extract, acerola fruit extract, apple, apple pectin, organic beetroot, blackberry, European black currant fruit extract, blueberry fruit concentrate, cranberry fruit extract, mango, mulberry fruit, papaya, pomegranate, red raspberry, strawberry, cantaloupe, cherry, grape, grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, peach, pear, pineapple, plum, watermelon, berberine hydrochloride
- Metabolic Enhancing Blend (365 mg)
- Cinnamon bark 5:1 extract, green tea leaf extract, white tea leaf extract, ginger root, turmeric root extract, bitter melon fruit extract, black pepper fruit
- Digestive Support Blend:
- Probiotic Blend 3 billion CFU – Bacillus coagulans, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus reuteri. Fructooligosaccharides 250 mg
Disappointingly I can see from this listing that they are using a proprietary blend, meaning the manufacturers have not stated the dose of each individual ingredient.
This is always frustrating, as I find it difficult to find the supporting evidence for the efficacy of a product (or an individual ingredient) if you don’t know how much of such ingredients you are getting.
How Does Vital Reds Taste?
Due to the fruits within Vital Reds’ ingredients it would presumably have a mild fruity flavour. Reviewers on Gundry’s own website claim that the taste is pleasant.
It would not be unusual to experience a small amount of digestive discomfort the first few times you take a product like this as it contains probiotics and fructooligosaccharides which have an effect on the digestive system.
Does Vital Reds Actually Work?
As we’ve already established Vital Reds is made up of proprietary blends. This means that despite giving the amount of each individual blend in the ingredients listing, we can’t be certain of the amount of each specific ingredient we are getting. This is important because (certainly for the most scientifically-studied ingredients) there are recommended doses. Those ingredients that have been widely researched for their efficacy are more likely to have a recommended dosage.
Take for example Aronia berry (Aronia melanocarpa), the third item on the ingredients list. Looking at Healthline.com we can see that the recommended dose for this fruit is about 300mg of fruit extract.
It’s impossible for us to tell how much of the fruit is included in the proprietary blend in Vital Reds so how do we know that we would be getting any of its benefits?
Similarly, if we look at green tea (from the Metabolic blend), we know that green tea is often used in weight-loss products and the research is still ongoing on how tea affects the metabolic processes in the body. Nevertheless, research shows that a daily dose of around 200-400mg may have antioxidative effects and beneficial effects on blood vessels (therefore giving some protection against cardiovascular disease).
But, again, we do not know how much is included in the metabolic blend of Vital Reds.
Unsurprisingly the citations on the Vital Reds evidence page are those of specific studies into individual ingredients looking at distinct outcomes. For example, the study ‘The effect of grape-seed extract on 24 h energy intake in humans’ would be looking at that single ingredient with a measurable outcome.
This is not proving any kind of efficacy of the product as a whole, so I’m not convinced about the claims Gundry MD are making about Vital Reds and energy.
Next on the list of claims are those around polyphenols. How do these powerful plant-derivatives work?
The current evidence shows that people who eat diets high in polyphenols may have some protection against cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. The next piece of research I read claims that polyphenol intake is highest in alcohol drinkers (possibly because of the polyphenol content of grapes?).
So, fruits (especially red berries) contain higher amounts of polyphenols and flavonoids.
But is taking them in a form such as Vital Reds going to give a significant boost in health? It’s difficult to tell when we don’t have all the facts.
Vital Reds Customer Reviews
I will give a cross-section of the reviews from Amazon sellers:
Product did not work as promisedone star
Not great for me2 stars
Money Back Guarantee / Returns Policy
There is a money back guarantee on products purchased from Gundry MD’s site, valid for 90 days from purchase.
Where to Buy Vital Reds?
Is It Worth the Price?
Vital Reds retails at $69.95 (USD) for one jar, $199.36 (saving $10) for 3 jars and $377.73 (saving $41) for 6 jars. This is the current price on the GundryMD website.
In my personal opinion, I don’t think this product represents particularly good value for money, and many reviewers state that they also think the product is on the expensive end of the market.
Presumably, the company assume that pricing their product more at the premium end of the market gives consumers the idea that there are premium ingredients and therefore big benefits to be experienced. I’m not sure that this thinking really works for this product. The main reason being that the quantities just aren’t transparent enough for me to work out what benefits I would get from taking this product.
The Bottom Line
Dr Gundry has a long and established career both in the medical field and in the Wellness sphere. He has followers and acolytes who will buy and praise his products.
When we are looking for a specific health product to ‘cure’ or solve a problem I believe we should be looking more closely at evidence and not just the sales pitch. Of course, medics and other professionals have a duty of care to ensure that any products they are backing (or selling!) are appropriately researched.
I’m just not convinced that the Gundry products are thoroughly researched enough, nor do they tick the box of being transparent about their ingredients and amounts used.
So for me, Gundry MD products can stay firmly on the shelf (with their expensive price tag) whilst I continue looking for the right products for me.