August 2021

Is it a Juice or a Liquid Supplement? Does it Matter?

The liquid dietary supplement market is booming – its market value is expected to double in the next decade. COVID-19 immune function concerns and increased consumer focus on “healthy living” is driving sales through the roof. They’re available online and in grocery and health food stores. But this new market has also created concerns around what makes a product just a beverage versus a liquid dietary supplement. Liquid dietary supplements are often found in the beverage aisles and are packaged just like regular juices. Consumers are likely unaware that many of these products contain large quantities of active ingredients - much more than would be found in a juice. Here’s what you should know.

One of the main distinguishing factors between a conventional food beverage and a liquid dietary supplement is the wording on the product label. If “dietary supplement” is anywhere on the product label, it’s not just a beverage, and consumers shouldn’t treat it as such. Organic Noni 100% Island Style by Tahiti Trader is a good example of this. It’s marketed as a “juice,” but it’s actually a liquid dietary supplement containing 30,000 mg of noni juice per serving. One serving size is only 1 fluid ounce, but the bottle contains 32 fluid ounces. It’s not intended to be consumed at once as a beverage. In fact, if the entire bottle was consumed at once, it could cause nausea and stomach discomfort.

Another key indicator is whether the label contains a Nutrition Facts panel or a Supplement Facts panel. A conventional beverage should display a Nutrition Facts panel, while a liquid dietary supplement should display a Supplement Facts panel. If a product has a Supplement Facts panel, it’s not just a drink, no matter what the rest of the label says. For example, Organic Goji Juice by Tahiti Trader is marketed as a “juice,” but it’s actually a liquid dietary supplement. In addition to listing calories and total fat, it must also include amounts for ingredients that don’t have daily values – in this case, goji fruit juice.

Due to confusing packaging and product placement, the line between liquid dietary supplements and traditional beverages is likely to be blurry for some time. For now, tell consumers to be on the lookout for the term “Dietary Supplement” or for a “Supplements Facts” panel on any beverage they purchase. Emphasize that liquid dietary supplements can cause side effects and interact with drugs just like dietary supplements in pill form.

The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2023 NatMed. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. NatMed is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.