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AG1 Launches in Singapore. Health Benefits or Hype?

Updated: Apr 2

AG1 Singapore health benefits

AG1, formerly known as Athletic Greens, is a 75 ingredient, daily health supplement that has recently launched in Singapore. It describes itself as "a Foundational Nutrition drink made with 75 of the highest quality ingredients, including pre-, pro-, and synbiotics, vitamins, minerals, and whole-food sourced ingredients."


AG1 is one of many greens blend products, each with its own health promoting mix of ingredients comprising powdered green vegetables, blue-green algae and more. In Bite-Sized Health we don't normally review specific products but as this product has raised a few questions, especially as it has recently launched, here we are.


Currently AG1 is all the rage on the interweb these days – Singapore is now targeted with dedicated online ads. With the backing, endorsement and ‘partnership’ of several leading sports and health influencers (some with serious credentials) the product has gained a growing following. The manufacturer is doing well financially, the company is valued at over US$1bn and counting.


AG1's marketing claims that the green powder blend covers a wide variety of dietary gaps and can even improve performance in a number of areas. The blend is a proprietary blend, actually four different mixes combined. As a propriety blend the amount of each ingredient does not have to be legally stated. This protects the manufacturer from others copying the formula. But, as the most expensive product in its class, is it all that it claims to be?


As always, we advise that if you are considering changing your diet, exercise or lifestyle practices, please discuss plans with your primary medical practitioner before making any changes.

 

Pros


The green powder blend provides the benefits of a vitamin-mineral pill, and more, in one mix with water and drink, daily serving. It has good levels of most vitamins and minerals although lacks Vitamin D and Iron.


The serving has multiple ingredients. These include:


  • Greens - a variety of algal and vegetable powders

  • Adaptogens - plants (often herbs) or mushrooms that have been found to help our bodies manage stress and maintain balance.

  • Probiotics - health promoting bacteria to support gut health.

  • Prebiotics - fibre, essentially food for the above bugs.

  • The product is third party tested for contaminants. A big plus in an industry that has less than a stellar track record.

 

Cons


The blend is a proprietary mix, the actual amount of each ingredient does not have to be legally stated. Given the overall number of ingredients, the quantity of individual ingredients might not be enough to provide the desired benefit. More on this below.


Some ingredients may be contraindicated for certain people, adaptogens may interfere with certain medications. Ingredient ashwagandha is advised not to be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding, this is stated in the website's FAQs should they be read.


While the blend has many, say, dried fruit powders, there is some evidence to say that these have some of the benefits of eating the whole fruit or vegetable, however this is not the same as eating the whole food itself. 1 serving of AG1 has less fibre than a small apple.


A serving of AG1 is not a food or meal replacement, which is possibly how many consumers will utilise it. This is similar to how many people might use (or indeed, misuse) their multi-vitamin and mineral pill.


Compared to other greens blends products, AG1 is expensive. That being said, it has a greater variety of ingredients than other blends. Once again, more on this below.

 

Is the Product Effective?


Does the product work? When it comes to comparing the vitamins and mineral content with other products, this is easy enough. AG1 has more than enough of key items although lacks Vitamin D, iron and omega-3 fatty acids.


When it comes to the other ingredients, it gets a little complex. In a single serving, 12g and 75 ingredients, it is possible that some or many of the ingredients might not reach a minimum effective dose. The manufacturer states that even at low doses the ingredients work in synergy, and there is certainly a case to be made here, but we just don't know.


AG1 ingredients

Is the product selling itself on having a kitchen sink of good ingredients that may or may not actually deliver value? What does the packaging tells us, what can we infer?


1. Raw Superfood Complex, 7.4g ex 12.0g

Top 4 Ingredients: Spirulina, Lecithin, Apple Powder, Inulin, plus 26 more.


  • A thought on composition and quantities. #4 ingredient Inulin is pure fibre, added to feed the good bacteria in the gut microbiome. For spirulina, the 1st and main ingredient, studies have shown that the effective dose starts at 1g.

  • It is likely that much of the 2g fibre (per 12g serving) comes from the inulin. And here is where it gets interesting to speculate on quantities of ingredients. If inulin, the 4th main ingredient by weight provides, say, 1.0g of the total fibre, then Spirulina, Lecithin, Apple Powder all are at weights higher than 1.0g. Suppose 4g in total, plus 1g from the Inulin. That leaves 2.4g for 26 other ingredients. We can only speculate.

2. Extracts Herbs & Antioxidant, 2.7g ex 12.0g

Top 4 Ingredients: Pea Protein Isolate, Citrus Bioflavonoids Extract, Artichoke Leaf Extract, Citric Acid. Plus another 17 ingredients.


  • A thought on composition and quantities: The #1 ingredient is Pea Protein Isolate, a concentrated form of protein. As the largest single ingredient within 2.7g of Extracts and Herbs, at no matter what amount, the pea protein provides little dietary value to help the consumer meet daily protein goals.

  • We know that there is 2g of protein in a 12g serving of AG1, from both pea protein and the other ingredients. Whats is the role of the pea protein? Is it a filler or to add an extra ingredient "protein" to make the blend more attractive to buy?

  • After the pea protein is removed, what quantity there of the remaining 20 ingredients? Will they be effective? We just do not know.

3. Enzyme and Mushroom Complex, 0.15g ex 12.0g

4. Probiotics, 0.038g ex 12.0g

5. Other Ingredients, weight not listed
  • Natural Flavours. We calculate 1.7g to make up the balance of a 12g serving.

 

What can we say about AG1?


AG1 provides vitamins and minerals, similar to many other products. Regarding the balance of the other ingredients and their specific benefits, there is likely some benefit but how much we simply do not know. In the absence of knowing their quantities or having further evidence, it is impossible to tell. Therefore, if you want to benefit from specific active ingredients, for example, key adaptogens, it may be better to source them from supplements where the amounts are listed, where you know the dose.


Price and placebo might also play a part. Studies have shown that when people pay more for their pills, they believe that they work better.

AG1 price Singapore
Prices in US$

There is certainly a place for supplementation in people's diets but first and foremost people should make their best effort to have a nutritionally balanced diet, appropriate for their age, activity levels and lifestyle. Can greens or superfoods blends play a role in daily nutrition, absolutely yes, and we provide an overview (.pdf download) of them here. But given the lack of clarity with regards to AG1's ingredients, there are perhaps other greens blends that might provide better value and be more effective, both in terms of effectiveness and cost.


Could the monthly S$117 be better spent? That is only a question that you can answer. For some, AG1 might be a convenience that they want to consider for it's benefits, real or perceived. Others might not need the convenience of a all-in-one product and have greater knowledge and security in what they are supplementing. Alternatively, $117 could be spent on nutrient dense real food.


As a part of a wider conversation about health, lifestyle and addressing the pillars of health have to be included. Except in cases of genuine deficiency, supplements cannot make-up for poor health stemming from a sub-standard diet, lack of exercise, poor sleep, stress and work-life imbalance.


Stay Healthy,


Alastair

 

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Greens Blends Product Overview


Greens and Superfood Blends Product Comparison
.pdf
Download PDF • 173KB

 

Related Resources and Studies



Díaz-Lago M, Blanco F, Matute H. Expensive seems better: The price of a non-effective drug modulates its perceived efficacy. Cogn Res Princ Implic. 2023 Jan 26;8(1):8. doi: 10.1186/s41235-023-00463-4. PMID: 36700994; PMCID: PMC9879252.


Wierzejska RE. Dietary Supplements-For Whom? The Current State of Knowledge about the Health Effects of Selected Supplement Use. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Aug 24;18(17):8897. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18178897. PMID: 34501487; PMCID: PMC8431076.


Ronis MJJ, Pedersen KB, Watt J. Adverse Effects of Nutraceuticals and Dietary Supplements. Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 2018 Jan 6;58:583-601. doi: 10.1146/annurev-pharmtox-010617-052844. Epub 2017 Oct 6. PMID: 28992429; PMCID: PMC6380172.







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