If you've ever found yourself wondering when you last ate a real fruit or vegetable (and no, you can't survive on mimosas and avocado toast alone), listen up. The USDA recommends between the ages of 19 and 30, women have 2 1/2 cups and men have 3 cups of fruits and vegetables per day.

But between school and work and going out for pizza with friends, it's not always possible to get all your fruits and veggies in. To make up for the missing nutrients, some people are quick to reach for vitamins or supplements, and juices like V8. However, like the commercial says, could you really just have had a V8?

To get to the bottom of this, I asked my mom, who happens to be a family medicine doctor, and Annette Washington, a recent Masters of Nutrition graduate on the path to becoming a Registered Dietitian. 

Apparently everyone is trying to go the juice route, because both my mother and Annette said it was a very common question. My mother laughed when I asked her if drinking a V8 is healthy and said, "Compared to what? A Venti Frappacino from Starbucks? Yes. Whole fruits and vegetables? Definitely not."

So, it's not exactly unhealthy, but there's definitely some pros and cons.

Con: Sugar Content and Added Flavors

chocolate, salt, sweet
Angela Kerndl

"The problem with V8 is that when you juice fruits and vegetables, you are losing some of the "good stuff" like fiber, and with bottled juices, you end up getting extra things like added sugars and sodium," Washington says.

You see, fruit is full of carbs — natural sugars and fiber. When they're blended or juiced, the sugars are released, which removes the insoluble fiber. When eating fruit, the fiber slows down the body's absorption of fructose (sugar), which is processed by your liver. But when it's juiced, the broken down fiber allows our body to quickly absorb the fructose, which can make it hard for the liver to do its job properly. Some say this could lead to health problems like obesity and blood sugar swings. 

Sure, V8 contains fruits and vegetables. However, many of the V8 varieties, such as V8 Splash, contain added artificial food dyes, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, natural flavors, sucralose and soy protein isolate. While a V8 Blend contains less artificial ingredients, it still contains other natural flavors and sucralose. 

Con: Large Portion Sizes

berry, juice, vegetable, sweet
Anna Hirschorn

Have you ever read the back of a V8? Chances are your can or bottle is larger than 8 fl oz, yet the nutrition information listed is often based on an 8 fl oz serving size. It's important to keep that in mind when pouring yourself a glass of juice from a 46 fl oz bottle.

On the other hand, one 11 1/2 fl oz can of the V8 Original Vegetable juice contains 880 milligrams of sodium, which is a little over half of what the American Heart Association recommends for the average adult. Consuming too much salt can lead to cardiovascular problems in the future, such as high blood pressure (generally in older adults or those with diabetes).

Luckily, the original flavor also comes in a low-sodium version as well, containing only 200 mg of sodium. 

Pro: Antioxidants

Even with added ingredients and questionable portion sizes, Washington says fruit and vegetable juices "are packed with antioxidants, which is a plus!" 

Antioxidants are praised for their anti-inflammatory, immune system, and anti-aging benefits. In short, they stop or prevent cell damage from free radicals. Free radicals are produced by your body to fight off things like viruses, but a build up of these can cause serious damage, like heart disease. 

While you can get antioxidants from juices, eating natural, whole fruit is the better option. "Ideally, the best option is to eat your fruits and vegetables, or even juice at home. Yet I'm not opposed to someone picking the convenient option if they have difficulties getting their vegetables in," Washington says.  

The Verdict

Juice is fine, but real fruits and vegetables are best. Also, you gotta juice at home if you want to drink your fruits and veggies. By making your own, you can ensure no sugar or sodium is added. You can also be sure that you're getting the correct serving size. However, if you're struggling to get your fruits and vegetables in, reaching for the convenient option of a V8 is better than reaching for a sugary sports drink or a soda. 

It is important to note that juice ultimately cannot replace a balanced diet. According to my mom and Washington, you should try to fill your diet with fresh fruits and vegetables, and save the V8 for your Bloody Mary's.