We’ve seen a lot of foreign supplements that attempt to break into the English-speaking market as imports. We’ve yet to see any that perfect this process, and Ningxia is a great example of how the different cultures surrounding health and fitness are a poor match.
In the Anglosphere, we’ve seen supplements that focus on evidence-based principles and a clinical approach. Conversely, traditional medicines such as Ningxia aim to provide a sense of wellness and alignment, with a focus on vaguer concepts of wellness beyond the purely physical.
It is easy to see how these supplements might struggle to assimilate well to our needs and style of the Euro-American marketplace. We aren’t going to discuss how it affects your spiritual wellbeing, but we will be discussing what the ingredients will do for you and what the science says.
What is it?
Ningxia is a mixture of fruit juices, extracts, and essential oils. Right off the bat, it is important to note that this is not marketed as being a weight loss supplement, but an aid to health and wellbeing.
This is important because a combination of sugary fruit juice and oil is incredibly calorie-dense and a single bottle is going to provide you with a huge quantity of both! The fruit juices and extracts in this product include:
As well as the following essential oils:
The combination of these ingredients doesn’t speak to diet or traditional western approaches to dietary supplements. This is a fruit juice that has been mixed with oils and vanilla extract to produce a nutrient and calorie-dense product.
The product offers a concentration of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, as well as relatively-healthy plant oils. There are no real analogs in the Western supplement market, so this presents something genuinely novel – if not particularly effective.
Does it Work?
The hard part about saying whether it works is that Ningxia sets totally different expectations of what it should do. It would be unfair to judge a wellness supplement against the same criteria as a weight loss supplement.
We’re going to look at a few of the key markers of health and wellbeing and how Ningxia may benefit them. This is going to include comparisons to more popular supplements and whole foods, and how they stack up.
Before we Start
It’s important to note that there are no active ingredients in this product: it is a combination of fruit juices and oils which, while they affect the body in various ways, do not have comparable effects to caffeine or even green tea extract.
From the very start of this comparison, it’s important to note that the effects of this product are very mild at best. That’s not to say that there aren’t any, however.
Perhaps the main reason to consume Ningxia’s flagship “red” product is the concentration of fruit-based antioxidants. The combination of a variety of fruit juices, many of which are renowned for their antioxidant properties, makes Ningxia relatively nutrient-dense.
This is the basis for their claims regarding the contribution to eye health (primarily through vitamin A) and improvements to cellular function (primarily the prevention of DNA damage and cancer risks) .
The problem is that Ningxia’s ingredients are also calorie-dense in a way that whole foods are not. A single 59ml serving is around 6g of sugar, which is more sugar than is likely to be found in many of the fruits in the product.
It’s a universal rule of dieting that eating calories will be more effective than drinking them, and this is absolutely true of Ningxia: it is less efficient for satiety and nutrient-density than spinach or any number of whole plant foods.
It may even be less effective than your average greens drink!
There is an argument that the essential oils in Ningxia might contribute to overall health and wellness by improving cardiovascular markers. Many other forms of oil can do this, with key examples being omega-3 fatty acids and the MCTs found in coconut oil.
The problem with the essential oils in Ningxia is that they are not as effective as these common cooking oils for improving health and wellbeing. While intake of high-quality unsaturated fats has been linked to improved
Cardiovascular health, the research suggests that fish oil and olive oil are superior sources of essential oils .
The doses found in Ningxia are also very low, at 0.2g per 100ml, which suggests that any beneficial effects are unlikely to be significant. In this situation, a combination of high-quality oils and plant foods seems to be a clear choice.
Benefits of Essential Oils
Essential oils are a large part of aromatherapy and traditional eastern medicines, and it may be argued that their inclusion is for their medicinal and remedial properties for Ningxia. The research suggests, after all, that essential oils are important for their antimicrobial properties which have clinical implications.
The problem with using essential oils for improving health and remedying problems is that they are mostly associated with pro-relaxation benefits. There are some instances where positive benefits occur, but their primary mechanism is psychological. This isn’t an indictment, but the research shows only mild effectiveness by far stronger oils than lemon, orange or vanilla .
Essential oils are a great adjunct to a healthy diet and active lifestyle, but their effects are very mild and there’s a reason that traditional medicine was supplanted by modern medicine: it is more effective.
Supplementation of individual compounds or simply eating more plant foods will have greater effects, while there are cheaper sources of essential oils on the market!
It’s not very effective. Despite our best intentions to be generous and open-minded when reviewing this supplement, it simply isn’t very effective. There are some simple, obvious problems that we encounter from the start:
- There are no ‘active’ ingredients
- The main ingredients are high-sugar fruit juices
- Essential oils are ok but the dose and efficacy in Ningxia are low
Ultimately, Ningxia is a very expensive fruit juice with some mild benefits provided by essential oils. While totally innocuous, it is also mostly ineffective.
The benefits you’re likely to see with this product are primarily psychological, with greater health benefits from green tea, whole plant foods and commonly-available olive and coconut oils.
If Ningxia is simply a fancy fruit juice, the practicalities of the product are why you shouldn’t buy it. At around $96 per 12 servings, it is one of the most over-priced supplements we’ve ever discussed. While it isn’t as dangerous as various other imported supplements, it’s definitely not worth the cost.
You also have to be careful with purchasing Ningxia in the winter as the website openly admits that shipping during winter months can result in frozen and unusable products. This is backed by the recommendation of premium shipping which rapidly makes Ningxia a triple-digit product.
There’s a possibility that we simply don’t “get” Ningxia and that some spiritual or wellness benefits have been lost in translation. However, as a commitment to evidence-based analysis, it’s important that we apply these principles fairly.
Ningxia is a fancy type of fruit juice that is going to cost you far more than necessary. The best replacement is, of course, is high-quality produce and even a cheaper “super green” type product would provide greater benefits.
Overall, this one is best avoided.
John has been a fitness enthusiast for over 10 years, starting out while struggling with obesity as a teenager. Over the years he has advised numerous clients on how to transform their physiques and their lives. As a writer on Nutrition Inspector he aims to help others achieve real results by staying clear of the common hype and false claims in the supplement industry!