Category Archives: Garden of Life

Whole Food Magnesium!

I was recently invited to test some of Garden of Life’s new products, including their whole food magnesium. Please note that I received several samples of this product for free, but was not compelled or asked to share a positive review, nor was I paid for this review. Those of you who know me can rest assured I will always be brutally honest in my reviews. Please also note that some, although not all, of the links in this article are affiliate links. If you purchase product after clicking these links, I receive a very small amount of compensation (less than 5%) of the purchase price. I never share links to products I do not believe in, nor do I ever share links to products I have not used and tested. The small amount of money I receive from affiliate sales are used to pay for the upkeep of this website.

The first product I reviewed was the Relax and Restore whole food golrelaxmagnesium. Did you catch that? This is a WHOLE FOOD magnesium, meaning it is made from food.

Why is that important? Because your body recognizes the molecular structure of supplements that are sourced from food and therefore digests and absorbs them much better than synthetic versions of the supplement. There are less than five other whole food magnesium supplements currently on the market, each of which provides an extremely small serving of magnesium, so this new product is a very big deal.

To learn more about magnesium and its importance for health, please read Why You Need More Magnesium.

Following is my review of Relax and Restore’s whole food magnesium features. I was brutally honest. I loved the product, but there are a few things I wish were a smidge different.

The Basics

The Garden of Life Relax and Restore Whole Food Magnesium is an effervescent powder. It is organic, non-GMO certified, and vegan. There are very few (less than three) organic magnesiums on the market, and none of those provide a whole food magnesium.

Relax and Restore also provides 1 billion active cultures of probiotics (Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, and Lactobacillus acidophilus) to help improve digestion. One billion active cultures isn’t enough to be a therapeutic dose of probiotics for most people, but it’s enough to improve the digestion and absorption of the product. For some people, it may be enough to boost immunity and improve regularity.

The magnesium in this product is derived primarily from pea protein. The main source of magnesium is a chelate, meaning the magnesium molecule has chains of amino acids (proteins) attached to it. The body digests and absorbs amino acids very easily, so the amino acid chelate connected to the magnesium ensures the magnesium will be very easily digested and absorbed. This should also ensure that this form of magnesium will not cause digestive upset.

Price and Serving Size

Serving size is a single teaspoon, so the smaller, approximately half-pound, containers provide around 50 servings. Not bad for a price point that’s between $15-17.

It is interesting to note that the different flavors have different net weights, but each provides about 50 servings. I’m assuming the difference in weights reflects differences in the ingredients that were added to create the flavors. To learn more about the extreme caution Garden of Life uses in selecting flavoring ingredients, please visit Seven Surprising Facts About the Garden of Life Colmpany.

The product is available in the following sizes:

  • Approximate half-pound containers, providing about 50 servings, averaging $15-17 per container. (Price differences were seen between various retailers. Amazing seems to have the best price.) Average cost per serving came to around 32 cents.
  • Approximate one-pound containers, providing double the servings (around 100), and costing around 24 cents per serving. This is obviously the better deal, but I recommend trying a small container of the flavored versions before committing to a large container. (Just in case you don’t care for the flavor.)

There is a somewhat similar product on the market that retails for a similar price but has double the servings. HOWEVER – that product is not organic or non-GMO verified, and contains some questionable ingredients. It also uses a synthetic form of magnesium that is known to cause diarrhea. It’s not a better option, in my opinion.

Taste

I tried the Original, stevia-free unflavored version, and the Orange Dreamsicle flavor. There is also a Raspberry Lemon flavor which I did not try.

I truly enjoyed both versions, although I felt the orange flavor was a bit strong. Adding more water helped eliminate that issue. My husband enjoyed both versions. The product wasn’t gritty after blending, and was easy to drink. I’ve tried other powdered magnesium supplements that were extremely gritty and hard to drink, so this was a pleasant change.

Effervescence

Here is perhaps my strongest negative opinion about this product. It’s not truly a negative, it’s merely a lesson I learned the hard way. Because the bubbles in this product are created naturally, it can take a while for the ingredients to finish bubbling.

Let me point out that drinking the product before the bubbling stops may result in a lot of burping. I felt it took an inordinately long time for the effervescence to stop effervescing, but I failed to time it. 

golrelaxlabelPlease also note that stirring the product once the powder has been added will greatly increase the bubbling effect and may cause foaming that will make the product overflow the cup it was blended in. 

If you’ll notice in the graphic at the right, the instructions clearly say to add the water to the powder. I did it wrong every single time, which may be why I had excessive bubbling. Following the instructions is obviously the wise course of action.

My advice if you ignore the instructions is to fill the container half way with water, add the teaspoon of product, and allow it to sit for 30-60 seconds. (I did time how long I waited.) Then add the remainder of the water, gently stir, and wait until the bubbling has obviously stopped.

Not a big deal, especially since the issue was with my failure to follow the instructions.

Interesting Side Notes

As you may or may not be aware, magnesium should never be taken with iron supplements, thyroid medications, some antibiotics, and a wide variety of prescription medications because it can either block absorption or increase absorption and increase the medication’s effectiveness. Please note that the face this is a whole food magnesium is not sufficient reason to assume this supplement can be taken with supplements and medications magnesium is known to interact with.

Having said that, I can say that I experimented with Relax and Restore and took it before bed with my iron supplement for two weeks. I did not notice any difference in how I felt, nor did I begin to notice symptoms of iron deficiency anemia. As someone with Pernicious Anemia, I can assure you I would have been flat on my back had this magnesium interfered with with absorption of my iron supplement. Let me also say, you should not experiment the way I did. My training and professional experience enables me to quickly tell if my body’s balance is shifting. In other words, don’t be stupid.

Have you tried Garden of Life’s Relax and Restore? What did you think?

Are These Garden of LIfe Probiotics Worth the Cost?

Garden of Life LogoI recently received the opportunity to review several Garden of Life products, including their line of Doctor Formulated Probiotics. In the spirit of full disclosure, please be aware I was given these products for free. I  tried two of them myself and gave the others to clients who volunteered to try them and report their results. As you read this review, it will be obvious the fact I received free product in no way influenced my review. I am brutally honest and am fully committed to always sharing the truth. Please note that some of the links shared in this post are affiliate links for which I receive a very small sum if you make a purchase after clicking the link. These small affiliate sums help pay the costs of maintaining this website.

I reviewed a meal replacement powder, several probiotics, and several organic multivitamins. The products I reviewed and my opinion of each follow. I’m covering the probiotic line first, as it’s one that has products marketed toward the entire family. I’ll review the other products in future articles.

Dr. Formulated Probiotics

This line of probiotics was formulated by Dr. Perlmutter, a renowned neurologist who is a recognized expert on nutrition, the gut-brain connection, gluten issues, and neurodegenerative disorders. The entire line includes broad spectrum probiotics with a high number of active cultures and a large number of bacterial strains. Each product is hypoallergenic, vegetarian, and free of gluten, dairy and soy.  The probiotics in each product are specially formulated to be resistant to stomach acid and bile so they reach the digestive tract. (Many probiotics on the market are not, so they are consumed by stomach acid and bile and never reach the digestive tract.) Those are all definite “pros” related to this line. 

It is also important to note that Garden of Life is the only manufacturer of OTC probiotics that ships them in refrigerated trucks. This ensures the probiotic strains stay viable. Most other manufacturers ship in regular trucks, which means the heat during the summer may very well diminish the potency of the products. Garden of Life shipped me the Prostate+ product in a cooler filled with ice packs. I was impressed. In spite of that, the cost required to do so doesn’t seem to have impacted the cost of these probiotics. They range in price from $21 for the children’s up to around $40 for the probiotic with the highest potency. Those prices are in line with similar probiotic products, and are less expensive than some which are only sold to doctor’s offices but which have fewer strains and lower potency.

The complete line includes general formulas and specific formulas for the following:

  • Mood+:  A combination of organic Ashwagandha, an adaptogenic herb known ot assist with stress, combined with probiotic strains known to help support neurotransmitter balance.
  • Prostate+:  A formula that combines organic herbal remedies known to support prostate health combined with specific probiotic strains known to do the same.
  • Urinary Tract Plus:  A combination of organic cranberry extract combined with Vitamin D and strains known to boost immunity to support the body’s natural ability to resist e coli.
  • Fitbiotic:  A combination of healthy organic fiber combined with probiotic strains known to support weight loss and blood sugar levels.
  • Once Daily Ultra:  This probiotic contains a whopping 90 billion active cultures and also contains lactobacillus gasseri, a strain known to support healthy blood sugar levels. Not many probiotics on the market contain that strain.
  • Once Daily Women’s:  A nice blend specifically designed for women’s physiology. Is shelf stable, meaning it maintains its potency without being refrigerated. (However, for best results I don’t recommend storing these in hot, steamy bathrooms.)
  • Once Daily Men’s:  The counterpart to the women’s version. My male clients liked only having to take one capsule per day.
  • Children’s Plus Chewable:  A nice blend that includes 5 billion active cultures along with Vitamin C and Vitamin D in an organic, all-natural tablet that actually tastes good. I have many clients who found their kids didn’t get sick as often when they happily ate one of these each morning during the winter.

It’s a simple fact that most of us need a probiotic and would benefit from taking one every day. I like this line and especially like that it contains strains of probiotics that most OTC probiotics do not. I’ve used the 

I like this line and I especially like the products designed to support specific systems. In the midst of that, be aware that the specific support products aren’t designed to be used alone. They should always be used as part of a support program and not used as the sole product. It would be impossible to include therapeutic doses of additional support ingredients in a single dose, so the products for specific systems don’t contain a large enough quantity of additional ingredients to provide a strong amount of therapeutic support. 

My clients who used these products reported the following:

  • Several saw improvements in digestion, ranging from being more regular to having less indigestion. One saw loose stools completely disappear. She had resisted using a probiotic prior to this, even though I had recommended it repeatedly.
  • More than one reported feeling more energy throughout the day.
  • A male client who was using the Prostate+ product said everyone in his office came down with a nasty virus, but he skated through without so much as a sniffle.
  • A client who used Urinary Tract+ said, “I liked knowing this provided extra support, but really think the D-Mannose I was taking helped prevent UTIs more than this did.” 
  • One client had mild detox symptoms associated with having harmful bacteria in her gut die off. Those symptoms disappeared once we reduced her dosage from once daily to once every-other day. She was able to return to a once-daily dose two weeks later, and I recommended other steps to help improve the balance of good and bad bacteria in her digestive tract.

The only “cons” I found with this line of probiotics were related to the fact the products marketed to benefit specific systems don’t contain therapeutic doses of additional nutrients, and that this line can only be purchased online or in specialty health food stores. Those are paltry issues when compared to the other benefits of these probiotics.

Are they worth the money? In my opinion, that answer to that question is a definite YES.

Seven Surprising Facts About the Garden of Life Company

I recently had the pleasure and honor of attending an invitation-only event hosted by the Garden of Life® company. Garden of Life Logo I was one of ten business owners and bloggers invited to spend three days as guests of Garden of Life. We spent two days at the Garden of Life headquarters, visited local eateries, were treated to a Lagree Method workout, received tons of swag and a very generous spa gift certificate, and had one glorious day to ourselves to enjoy the sun and sights of Palm Beach Gardens. During the event, we were treated to cutting-edge education about Garden of Life’s company, philosophies, and commitment to quality; were blessed to meet many members of the Garden of Life staff and leadership team; and were pampered like crazy.

I have been a huge fan of Garden of Life products for more than ten years. Visiting their corporate office and getting to learn more detailed information about their products and philosophies strengthened my desire to use their products myself and to recommend them to my clients. I was also impressed at how readily their leadership team shared areas they are working to improve, and how open they were to receiving feedback.

Here are seven facts about the Garden of Life company that may surprise you:

Garden of Life is committed to creating supplements that are USDA Certified Organic and Verified Non-GMO via the Non-GMO Project:  

This makes Garden of Life a true oddity (in a wonderful way) in the natural products market. There are currently approximately only 265 supplements on the market that are both USDA Certified Organic and Verified Non-GMO. Garden of Life has 29% of Non-GMO Project Verified Logothose products. That is an impressive market share that is higher than any other individual company’s. Garden of Life is committed to making sure their future products continue to make it easier to find certified organic, non-GMO supplements. You’ve committed to eating 100% organic food, shouldn’t your supplements be the same? You can learn more about Garden of Life’s commitment to organic, non-GMO products by visiting Why is Garden of Life® the #1 Certified USDA Organic Supplement Brand in the Natural Products Industry?

The enthusiasm and dedication of the Garden of Life staff is amazing:

We were blessed to receive education from various Garden of Life staff members and to hang out with others. I was blown away by how obvious it was that every person there was excited to be at work and loved his or her job. I’ve never before seen that in a corporate environment! Regardless of whether the staff member worked in product development, IT, or finance, their job satisfaction and their excitement to be there was obvious. It was also obvious they were all united in their desire to live and promote a holistic, organic lifestyle.

The Garden of Life slogan of Empowering Extraordinary Health® isn’t just a tagline, it’s an absolute way of life for the corporation and its staff:

I was also impressed by Garden of Life’s commitment to intentional, holistic living in every way possible. Their commitment to “empowering extraordinary health” extends from the products they create to the well-being of their vendors and suppliers and to the health of their employees. The company is so committed to only using organic ingredients that they have programs in place to help farmers convert from traditional growing practices to organic. The company’s corporate office also has innovative perqs such as a Meditation Room, Smoothie Bike (see pic), Supplement Bar (see pic), work out facility with showers, and a “living wall” of plants that serves as a backdrop to the amazingly well equipped employee break area.

Garden of Life Smoothie Bike

Fellow attendee Chelsea Gilson of Traveling Fig demonstrates the Garden of Life Smoothie Bike

SBarupplement

Garden of Life’s “Supplement Bar” where employees have easy access to a wide array of supplements. (Photo courtesy of fellow attendee Roshini Cope of Glamazini.com.)

 

Garden of Life relies on research and clinical trials to verify the efficacy of their products:

The amount of research that goes into the development of every Garden of Life product is staggering. Extensive research is dedicated to every ingredient, including those providing therapeutic nutrients or herbs, and also the flavorings. (Their products do not include artificial colorants.) Once a formula is developed, the research doesn’t stop. Garden of Life products are third-party tested to gauge their effectiveness. This dedication to research is amazing and helps increase confidence in the products.

The Garden of Life company is dedicated to free trade and to supporting the communities their farmers and suppliers live in:

I’m impressed by any company who actively shows a commitment to giving back. Garden of Life definitely fits that category! The company is firmly committed to ensuring all trade arrangements made with suppliers and farmers are fair and that ingredients purchased from small providers ultimately benefit the surrounding community. Sales of some Garden of Life products are used to help support organizations such as SOS Children”s Villages USA, The National Parkinson Foundation, Vitamin Angels, and others. In addition to that, Garden of Life employees are encouraged to actively support organizations that are near to their own hearts. One example of that includes Rhonda Price, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, who helps support Special Olympics. 

Garden of Life’s commitment to high quality ingredients is so strong they have decided to not go mainstream:

There are approximately 7,000 health food stores in the US and over one million mainstream department stores and groceries. Garden of Life evaluated the market and their ability to obtain the highest quality organic ingredients and made a conscious decision to limit the sale of their products to health food stores. While some might consider limiting their potential profit a crazy business decision, Garden of Life recognized that maintaining the highest possible quality was priceless. The fact they only sell in health food stores also enables the company to provide advanced training to health food store employees to ensure that those directly responsible for recommending their products have a solid foundation of knowledge about the products. 

Garden of Life’s commitment to high quality ingredients includes an absolute commitment to only using flavoring ingredients that are organic, non-GMO and pure:

One of the most delightful people we met was Sherri Gunn, Director of Product Development and Flavor Specialist. Sherri’s enthusiasm for and excitement about her job was energizing and contagious. Part of her role is to ensure Garden of Life products taste amazing. To accomplish that, she spends hours tasting a wide variety of different organic ingredients intended to impart flavor. (She must have the most sensitive taste buds on earth to be able to discern subtle differences between multiple botanicals and natural products most of us would think were the same thing!) Sherri’s all-consuming passion for her job and for finding the best organic ingredients to make Garden of Life products taste amazing was inspiring.

In my next post, I’ll share links and info about the other attendees of the event. They are amazing women with big hearts who are changing the world by being themselves and inspiring others to live as healthily as possible. I can’t wait to share them with you!

Win Garden of Life Raw Fit Organic High Protein Powder!

Please note this contest is OVER and is not active. Thanks much.

I was honored ot recently be asked to review Garden of Life’s Raw Fit Organic Protein Powder. I was curious about this productGarden of Life Raw Fit Organic Protein Powder and was therefore thrilled to be able to try it. I was interested in reviewing Raw Fit’s ingredients, taste, and nutrition.

I was so impressed with Raw Fit that I’ve decided bless one lucky reader with a full size container of the flavor of his or her choice. After reading this article, use the Rafflecopter widget at the end of this article to enter the contest. You have several different options for entering, some of which can be completed daily. Good luck!

Please note Garden of Life provided free products to me to use for this review. The receipt of free product was not intended to guarantee a positive review and did not influence my review in any way. Although I very much appreciate the fact Garden of Life sent me a generous selection of samples, I was not compelled in any way to write a positive review. Please also note that some links in this article are affiliate links from which I receive a very small amount of compensation if purchases are made using the links.

The Basics

Garden of Life is known for only using the very best, often organic, ingredients in their products. I have been a fan of theirs for many years, but often found the products in their “Raw” line tasted horrible. (Just being honest.) I was therefore curious to see how the Raw Fit products would taste. I was pleasantly surprised to find the Raw Fit Organic High-Protein Powders taste wonderful. I was provided Vanilla and Chocolate Cacao flavors, both of which were delicious. Other flavor options include Original and Marley Coffee. Packaging options include a 16-ounce canister and single-serving packets.

Garden of Life markets this product as a “weight loss” product. Although it may be a valid weight loss tool, I feel the ingredients would be better marketed as being helpful with blood sugar control. This product is obviously not a substitute for medical care, but contains several ingredients known to help lower blood sugars and improve insulin resistance. It also contains ingredients known to help lower cortisol levels and help the body adjust to internal and external stressors.

Heavy Metal Accusations

I want to comment about reports in 2014 stating Garden of Life’s protein powders contained high levels of heavy metals. Garden of Life worked with other organic protein powder manufacturers to find better sources for the brown rice protein used in their products. The companies reached an agreement to create an industry standard to limit the amount of heavy metals contained in protein products. The levels are extremely low, so I’m confident their products are safe to consume. It is impossible to avoid heavy metal contamination in food due to environmental contaminants. I am comfortable using this product. I tested heavy metal levels in my body using an electrodermal scan unit before and after consuming one daily serving of this product for one week. There was no rise in heavy metal levels in my body. It is nice to note that one source of protein used in this product – chlorella – is also known to help the body eliminate heavy metals.

Nutrition

Nutritional Label from Raw Fit OriginalRaw Fit Organic High Protein powder has an impressive array of ingredients and nutrition.  

The label shown at left is for the unflavored version of Raw Fit Organic High Protein powder. Working from the top of the label down, the product contains:

  • 170 calories
  • 1 gram of fat
  • Very little sodium (25 g) and no added sodium
  • 180 mg of potassium – Please note you may not need to take a potassium supplement if using this product on a daily basis
  • Only 12 grams of carbohydrates. Since 15 grams is considered a serving of carbs, this is a very small amount of carbs
  • 28 grams of protein – almost two full servings.
  • 1000 IU of Vitamin D
  • 340 mg of Magnesium – If you are taking a magnesium supplement, you may need to reduce your dosage if you use this product every day
  • The sprouted protein blend has a varied blend of sprouted seeds, vegetables and grains. (It is gluten-free.) The sprouted grains are much more easily absorbed.
  • Weight loss and stress management blend – A blend of a specialized decaffeinated Green Coffee Bean Extract and Ashwaganda root. Although I’m not a fan of mainstream Green Coffee Bean Extract due to its overuse and abuse (click the link for more information), I’m comfortable with the form used in this product, especially since it is organic and decaffeinated.
  • Glucose management blend – A blend of herbs known to assist with blood sugar management and insulin sensitivity.
  • Probiotic and Enzyme blend

Pros and Cons

Following is an overview of potentially positive and negative features of Raw Fit Organic High Protein Powder:

Pros Cons
  • Organic
  • Non-GMO Verified
  • Free of soy, wheat and dairy
  • Vegan
  • Unique flavor options that taste good
  • Great nutritional content
  • High protein content from sprouted
    seeds and grains for better absorption
  • Extremely low number of carbs per serving
  • Also contains digestive enzymes and 
    probiotics
  • Each container only contains 10 servings
  • Powder is very hard to mix into liquid
    and remains gritty
  • Powder tastes somewhat chalky
  • Price per serving is significantly higher
    than comparable organic protein powders
  • Contains herbs that could be harmful
    to some individuals
  • The flavor designations are
    hard to find on the label
  • Product is low in carbohydrates but
    does not provide much fiber

I will use this product again. I consider the potential “cons” to be very minor compared to the high quality ingredients used, high protein content and other benefits. I can’t wait to try the other flavors! When using these powders, I recommend using a shaker bottle or blender to blend the powder into water or a milk substitute. If you try a container, please let me know what you think!

One lucky reader can win a container of the flavor of his or her choice using the Rafflecopter widget that follows. Good luck!

Win a Container of Garden of Life Raw Fit High Protein for Yourself! 

I was so pleased with Garden of Life’s Raw Fit High Protein food that I decided to give away a container to one lucky reader. Please note I am not giving away one of the free containers I received. I will order the flavor of your choice and have it shipped directly to you.  Feel free to use the Rafflecopter widget that follows to enter as many times as possible.

a Rafflecopter giveaway