What is Vemma? Is Vemma really the “Worlds Most Powerful liquid Antioxidant” or is Vemma a scam? These are some of the questions I’ve been asked lately, so I decided to do a Vemma review. When I went to the Vemma nutrition website, I discovered that Vemma is more than a supplement company. The company also has a multi level marketing aspect to it, where people can have their own Vemma vitamin drink business and sell products to others. Other supplements I’ve reviewed previously that have a multilevel marketing business part include Shakeology, TriVita and Juice Plus. Let’s leave the MLM part alone and just focus on Vemma itself. The CEO of Vemma says that it is “physician formulated” and “blends Eastern and Western Philosophies” and that Vemma contains “plant based mysterious elements like OPCs and EGCGs. Currently Vemma offers 6 different supplements but their flagship product is just called “Vemma”. What I want to do here is review science behind Vemma and see what we can discover.
Who makes Vemma?
Vemma is a product of Vemma Nutrition Company. The address for the company is 8322 East Hartford Drive Scottsdale, AZ 85255. A check of Google Images shows that this address leads to a rather large building that says “Vemma” on the outside. On the science page of Vemma.com, it’s mentioned that Vemma “owns, operates and oversees” the facility that makes Vemma. The facility is located in Tempe Az.
Most supplement companies appear, to me, to exist only on paper, outsourcing the production and distribution of their products to 3rd party entities. So, to me, it’s rare to see a company that makes its own stuff.
There is also another Vemma location that appears to be dedicated to its energy drink, called Verve. The address for that building is 3732 Virginia Beach Blvd Virginia Beach, VA 23452.
According to the Better Business file on Vemma, they give the company a rating of B- as of 8/15/13. The BBB file has additional information on the company. There is an interesting review of Vemma on the website Truth In Advertising also.
In a video on the products website -vemma.com – the CEO of Vemma says he has put “hundreds of thousands of dollars into clinical science to prove what Vemma can do for you and your family.” When I went to the Vemma website I did find a page called Vemma Science. There were 2 studies posted on this page. These studies are:
Journal of Medicinal Food. Study name: Effect of a Mangosteen Dietary Supplement on Human Immune Function: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. This study involved 59 people
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Study name: Bioavailability and Antioxidant Effects of a Xanthone-Rich Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) Product in Humans. This study involved 20 people.
Looking over the studies I noticed that:
1. Both of these studies are published in health journals in 2009 and are peer reviewed. That’s good.
2. Both studies involved humans, which is also good.
3. One of the studies notes that Vemma:
- increased T helper cells (an immune system cell) and other aspects of immunity
- reduced CRP levels (a marker for cellular inflammation)
- improved overall feelings of health
Of these two studies, one basically says that the ingredients in Vemma can be absorbed by the body and the other finds that Vemma can help the immune system, lower inflammation and help us feel better.
So, while that’s less proof than I’d like, it’s good when a company helps support research on its own products because this is rare. I look forward to other Vemma studies.
If you go to the Vemma nutrition website and look at the list of ingredients you can see how much vitamins and minerals it is. Most of this stuff is nothing different than what you would find in other super vitamin drinks so I won’t review them all here because I have written about many of them in other posts (Tip: use the search box on this site to find out more about the vitamins).
Vemma has 1000 IUs of vitamin D. I usually recommend people to get their vitamin D levels checked because low levels appear to increase the risk of various health problems. The RDA for vitamin D was recently increased to 650 IUs.
I noticed that Vemma only contained one type of vitamin E – alpha tocopherol. While this is the most abundant type of the vitamin in the human body, there are several different types of Vitamin E which may have unique properties. Those other types also are antioxidants. To be fair, most supplements also only contain alpha tocopherol.
The main ingredients in Vemma vitamin drinks are said to be:
- Aloe Vera
- Green tea
All 3 of these ingredients ads up to 25.2 grams (that’s a little less than an 1 ounce)
Let’s look at the research on each separately
I believe mangosteen (scientific name Garcinia mangostana) is the main active ingredient in Vemma because mangosteen is mentioned in the title of both of the Vemma studies conducted so far. Mangosteen is sometimes marketed in other products as Xango Juice.
Mangosteen does have some antioxidant effects. We humans make antioxidants naturally and they are in fruits and vegetables as well as “super foods” like mangosteen. That said, I should mention that there is no good proof that mangosteen is a better antioxidant than what you would find in other fruits. Mangosteen is a different kind of fruit and as such can be a part of a healthy diet, but whether its better than other fruits, I don’t think so.
In this review of mangosteen juice ads, published in 2012, the researcher compares the supplement ads to the research. It’s an interesting read for those who are interested.
Aloe vera appears to have antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties. There is also some evidence that parts of aloe vera may have an effect on lowering insulin levels and weight loss. Other studies appear to show that aloe vera may help lower cholesterol and LDL levels as well as hemoglobin A1C levels (a marker for diabetes progression).
These studies are not on Vemma but on other aloe vera preparations, some of which may not be available to the public.
Studies showing positive effects do not use much, only about a half an ounce per day. This is important to keep in mind, given that aloe vera can be a laxative. I have no proof that one brand is better than another. Here is a brand of aloe juice on Amazon that has several positive reviews.
Green tea gets a lot of attention from researchers. There is research showing that green tea may help various forms of cancer, Alzheimers disease, and even weight loss and heart disease. Does that mean Vemma might do some of these things too? This is currently unknown.
While it’s the EGCG in green tea that often gets a lot of attention, it’s important to remember that there is a lot of other things in green tea that may have beneficial effects. As such, it’s good to drink tea as opposed to individual green tea ingredients that appear “sexy” to researchers. Here is one of my favorite green tea brands for those who are interested.
The green tea used in Vemma is decaffeinated so it should not (in theory) keep anyone awake at night.
Vemma side effects
I’m not aware of any side effects from Vemma specifically so I think in healthy people Vemma is safe. Below are some potential / theoretical side effects of the main ingredients in Vemma.
As far as I can see, very little human research has been conducted on mangosteen. Most mangosteen research I’ve seen is basically performed on isolated cells in a test tube or lab animals. When eaten as a food I feel it is likely safe for most people. As for mangosteen supplements, side effects will probably vary by the health of the person, medications they take and how much mangosteen the supplement contains.
Mangosteen may have a blood thinner effect due to its effect the enzyme cyclooxygenase which does many things – including playing a role in blood clotting. This may be an issue for people who take blood thinner medications.
There is a case report of a man who became sick using a mangosteen supplement every day for a year. The mangosteen supplement appeared to alter the acidity of the body, causing the man to vomit, have abdominal pain and have rapid breathing. These are symptoms of a condition called lactic acidosis. This doesn’t mean Vemma will do the same thing. It probably won’t but it’s worth pointing out just in case anyone else experiences these symptoms with other mangosteen products.
Some cancer therapies – like radiation therapy – kill cancer cells because they create free radicals. This is a good use of free radicals. Since antioxidants neutralize free radicals, would antioxidant supplements be bad for someone getting treated for cancer? This is a very BIG– and important – question that people must discuss with their doctor. This is true for all supplements.
The question about mangosteen and cancer treatment has also been addressed by others so do take this caution seriously if you have cancer. Yes, there is some evidence that antioxidants can help cancer therapy work better, but given the complexity of cancer and cancer therapies, the decision to use antioxidant supplements is best decided by an oncologist who knows about these sorts of things.
Aloe vera may be a blood thinner. Speak to your doctor if you take blood thinner meds. Aloe vera might also lower blood sugar so be careful if you are a diabetic. There is not much proof on either of these side effects but be aware of them just in case.
As is listed on the Vemma FAQ sheet, – and the picture below – Vemma contains a little lithium. I think the inclusion may be due to its natural occurrence in the ingredients. Lithium is sometimes used by doctors to treat manic depression. I’m sure Vemma only has a little lithium but I wonder if this might be a problem in people who were taking lithium or or other anti-depressants? What about supplements that might have similar effects ? When in doubt, ask your doctor about this for more information.
There are isolated case reports of lithium supplement toxicity. Some research finds lithium may cause the heart to beat irregularly. Would Vemma do this? I don’t know.
Vemma also has a little Vanadium. Vanadium (as vanadly sulfate) used to be popular among weight lifters until they figured out it didn’t work for them. Vanadium may lower blood sugar levels which means it might interact with diabetes medications.
How much does Vemma cost?
Does Vemma work?
While I like that there are a couple of studies on Vemma, right now, the research isn’t where I’d like it to be. There is some interesting research on manganeen, but most of what I see involves test tube or lab animal research. As such, I’m not sure if Vemma is better than other mangosteen products such as:
I hear that new Vemma research is in the works and I will add those studies to this review as they become available. For now, I’m on the fence as to whether Vemma – or any other mangsteen juice - promotes health any better than just eating more “regular” fruits and vegetables.
What do you think?