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Supplementing your diet with vitamins has fallen in and out of favor in the medical and health communities many times over the years. One of the primary criticisms of vitamins is their lack of personalization. Multivitamins, a popular one-size-fits-all option for many people, rarely provide specifically what someone needs to improve their health.
They are tailored based on gender or age, but beyond that, taking a multivitamin is little more than an umbrella for your body’s basic nutrition needs.
Recently, though, personalized supplements have disrupted the vitamin industry.
What are Personalized Vitamins?
In response to the one-size-fits-all nature of the multivitamin, several companies have launched personalized vitamins. In most cases, you visit their website to take a quiz, and based on what you answer; the company builds you a vitamin pack. Questions on the quizzes include issues related to:
- Region of the country in which you live
- Lifestyle choices
- Current diet
- Health concerns
- Fitness regimen
The companies use an algorithm and other tools based on your answer to design your personal selection of mailed vitamins to you, usually monthly. The goal of personalized vitamin companies is to assess what is unique about you that affects your need for a supplement that’s more than just a women’s or men’s multivitamin, or prenatal vitamin.
Personalized vitamins are not better or in any way different than individual supplements you buy in a store. They are just combined in a way that makes them well-suited to your needs. It’s a convenient option for people who don’t have the time or desire to research what supplements are going to help them the most because the vitamin company does that work for them.
Are Personalized Vitamins Worth the Investment?
For many people, the answer is “yes.” The truth is most people don’t need a one-size-fits-all multivitamin. In some cases, this umbrella approach isn’t all that safe, either. If you get too much of something you don’t need, it can adversely affect your health, wiping out any of the good the needed supplements do for your body.
With personalized vitamins, you are only getting what you need. But that doesn’t mean you are getting everything you need. It also doesn’t mean you are identifying the reason why you might need a particular vitamin.
For example, if you answer that you’re feeling sluggish or run-down on your vitamin assessment, the company could deduce that you have low levels of vitamin B12. But many other things could be causing you to feel that way and without a thorough health evaluation, you might never know the actual cause. Vitamin B12 isn’t going to hurt you, but including it in your vitamin pack isn’t as personalized as it might seem.
Personalized supplements get you closer to your ideal vitamin and nutrient intake, but they aren’t perfect.
Can Personalized Supplements Improve Health and Performance?
Absolutely. But they aren’t perfect.
And the health assessments given to you when you first sign up for personalized supplements aren’t that in-depth. Some healthcare professionals believe these quizzers are little more than a clever marketing strategy that serves as little more than a jumping-off point for figuring out what you need.
Suppose you are interested in really getting a personalized supplement regimen designed for your specific needs. In that case, the best thing to do is ask your doctor to conduct a micronutrient lab blood test. This provides accurate markers for vitamins and micronutrients and tells you where there are any deficiencies.
It’s also possible to utilize DNA testing to evaluate your health risks. If you understand your genetic health risks, you can better provide your body with what it needs to reduce your risks.
Keep in mind, though, these types of tests tend to be more expensive, which means the basic overview assessment is the route many people choose. DNA tests are available for around $100 to $200, but blood panels conducted by a doctor are more. You’ll need to decide how thorough you want to be when it comes to assessing your needs.
It’s also important to remember that even if you undergo a medical panel to get a better look into what you need, you can still order from a personalized supplement company that you trust.
Supplements aren’t regulated like medications, so it can be difficult to find a company that provides a good product. Many of the personalized vitamin companies offer guarantees and are transparent with their manufacturing process, so you know you’re getting a quality supplement.
What Should I Look for in a Supplement?
You should treat personalized supplements the same way you would treat other vitamins you purchase. You want to look for a company with a good reputation that stands behind its products.
Many personalized supplement companies include herbal supplements as part of their offerings. Though many are considered safe for most people, it’s important to understand how they’ll affect you. Many herbal supplements interfere with medications or cause harm in other ways. Make sure you speak to your doctor before beginning any supplementation regimen.
It’s also a good idea to check the ingredient list before investing in personalized supplements. Avoid products with synthetic fillers, coloring, and partially hydrogenated soybean oil. Also be on the lookout for lead, PCBs, and mercury, which are all found in some fish oil supplements.
You’ll want to make sure the company you choose for your personalized supplements offers a quality product that is more than just an attractive social media picture and marketing campaign. There are many great companies out there, so you just need to do a little research and find one that works for you.
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“How to Choose High Quality Vitamins and Supplements.” Healthline, 15 July 2020, www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-choose-high-quality-vitamins-and-supplements. Accessed 31 Oct. 2020.