Nearly everyone has health resolutions on their list for being better in the New Year. It could be eating right or losing weight. It might be taking out a gym membership and actually keeping up with a fitness routine. It could be keeping a gratitude journal or engaging in mindfulness activities. And, there are probably a handful of folks that resolve to start (or restart) taking a daily vitamin.
Taking a daily vitamin is an admirable goal, but will it impact your health in a significant way? The answer: it depends. If you choose to take a generic, off-the-shelf multivitamin, you will probably not see many effects. It is a broad-spectrum pill with “A to Z” nutrition, typically 30 ingredients or more, and the dosing levels are extremely low. It ties doing to Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) and attempts to fill the gaps of a healthy person with a balanced diet. The problem: most people are not completely healthy or keeping a balanced diet, especially in the age of Keto/Paleo/Vegetarian and everything in-between, and there is no evidence that meeting the RDA scale with daily supplementation will correct vitamin deficiencies or align with the leading scientific evidence around when a vitamin makes an impact on you. One analogy is that the multivitamin is an insurance policy around daily nutrition with very thin coverage. You are under the impression that you are covering your bases, when in fact, you may be falling short of your needs.
It never made much sense to design a category of vitamins around broad demographic groups like gender or age. The shelves are full of sundry brands marketing multivitamins for “all men” or “all women.” However, in reality, we all have different health and lifestyle profiles that dictate various supplementation needs. In many cases, demographic information is the least valuable piece of information about a person’s vitamin needs. Regardless of whether you are a man or woman, if you have chronic headaches or migraines, that piece of information will factor more prominently into your vitamins needs.
Personalized vitamin companies take into account key differences in individual profiles. These companies start with an online survey, where you are assessed based on your diet, fitness, health status, and more. The companies use algorithms to match you to your personalized recommendations. Most vitamin companies will assign you a pill pack, a daily bag of your individual supplements. The problem will pill packs are that they are cumbersome for most people. Who wants to take a handful of pills every day? Can most people afford $100+ per month to pay for their packet? How easy is it to swallow pills of different shapes and sizes? As another option, there are companies that set out to simplify the daily vitamin routine with personalized all-in-one multivitamins. These companies blend your needs into a single tablet that you can take on a daily basis. These companies tend to be much more affordable than pill packs; however, they will cost a premium over mass market multivitamins. You are paying slightly more for a targeted formula that is matched to your needs.
Resolutions Should Be Kept
It is easy to make a resolution, but it is hard to keep a resolution. Taking a vitamin is a daily task that requires compliance. Generic multivitamins do not make it easy to stick with a routine. First, the mass market is very transactional; you buy that bottle, and the company does not know who you are, and you probably don’t know what most of the ingredients on the back label are intended to do for you. There is no two-way communication with the company. By contrast, personalized vitamin companies sell on a direct basis, and capture your email address. They can send you ongoing education and adherence coaching messages. They can also reformulate your vitamins as your health and lifestyle changes. It is undeniably easier to stick with a vitamin routine when your company is reaching out to you directly and communicating around your individualized needs.
Another aspect of a transactional vitamin purchase is that you are expected to know when to refill your vitamins. You must think about buying another bottle on each trip to the grocery store or pharmacy. As an alternative, personalized vitamin companies typically serve the consumer on a subscription basis. Your bottles show up on your doorstep at the cadence that you set up with the company.
The off-the-shelf multivitamin is typically hard to swallow. It is often described as a horse-pill based on the large size. Personalized pill packs can also be difficult to swallow because of the sheer number of pills and various sizes. A customized all-in-one multivitamin will be crafted to make them palatable to swallow, usually with manageable pill size and special coating to make them easier to swallow.
Finally, you may find that taking the cheap, off-the-shelf multivitamin is a poor motivator toward health. You are not energized when you are doing the bare minimum or taking something that seems so generic. A personalized vitamin is a premium offering. You are paying more for quality, and hence, you will be more motivated to keep up with your routine. There is a psychological factor around making an investment in a premium offering. A personalized vitamin is a great way to kick start your health.
Next January 1st Commit To A Personalized Vitamin
Now is the time to reflect on who you have been in the past, and who you want to be in the future. The past version of you might have paid little attention to the vitamin category. Grab a bottle that is convenient and stocked on the shelves. Fit yourself in to a category like a “men’s multivitamin” or “women’s multivitamin.” Your future self is not going to think about vitamins in such a simplistic way. There is an opportunity to do better and get a vitamin solution that is personalized to your needs. You can begin a relationship with a vitamin company that cares about your current health status, and how it can align its products to your needs. There is another level of convenience in subscription services that can turn a vitamin into a “set it and forget it” purchase that keeps you honest about repurchase and adherence. Pour some champagne (and yes, personalized vitamin services will inquire about your alcohol intake) and incorporate the next level of vitamins and self-care into your New Year’s resolutions.