Do I need vitamin supplements?

Vitamin D supplement

From around late March or early April until the end of September, most people can get all the vitamin D they need through sunlight on their skin and from eating a balanced diet.

However, during the autumn and winter, you need to get vitamin D from your diet because the sun is not strong enough for your body to make vitamin D.

Because it’s difficult for people to get enough vitamin D from food alone, everyone (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D during the autumn and winter.

Some groups of the population are at greater risk of not getting enough vitamin D and are advised to take a supplement every day of the year.

It is recommended that:

  • breastfed babies should be given a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D from birth, even if the mother is taking a supplement containing vitamin D herself
  • babies having 500mls (about a pint) or more of formula a day should not be given a vitamin D supplement, because infant formula is fortified with vitamin D and other nutrients
  • all children aged 1 to 4 years old should be given a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D
  • people who are not often exposed to the sun – such as people who are frail or housebound, are in an institution such as a care home, or usually wear clothes that cover most of their skin when outdoors should take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D

Find out more information about vitamin D.

6 Next-Level Supplements You’ll Actually Want to Take

While the colorful gummies were fun to look at as a kid, these vitamins look even better and will make you feel like the adult you’ve grown into. Here are seven vitamins for adults that are all about giving you the best experience for your health.

As with all supplements, vitamins, and herbs, check with your doctor before incorporating them into your diet. It’s possible for herbs to interact with any medications you may already be taking.

1. Blissful Lengths Liquid Hair Growth Vitamin by Curls

If your hair isn’t growing quite as fast as you would like it to, Blissful Lengths might be what your strands need. Although there’s not much clinical evidence for vitamins and hair growth, there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence for vitamin B and the other vitamins in these liquid supplements. If your diet lacks vitamin B, taking these supplements could possibly help your hair and skin.

Buy: $25 at Curls

2. Big Chill Supplements by Hum Nutrition

Hum Nutrition’s motto is “beauty starts from within,” and on so many levels, we couldn’t agree more. These plant-based, vegan supplements are perfect for natural remedy lovers. Our eyes are on the product Big Chill because it carries Rhodiola rosea (R. rosea) extract. A review of R. rosea reports limited evidence that this herb can help with physical and mental fatigue, with little to no side effects. Another study shows the extract may help with menopause brain. Hum Nutrition reports results with Big Chill in as little as two weeks.

Buy: $25 at Sephora

3. Power Dust by Moon Juice

Power Dust is like an ingestible fairy dust that’ll give you an energetic boost. The formula is a combination of organic, wild-crafted herbs, adaptogenic plants, and bioactive minerals. Power Dust also has Rhodiola, but its main ingredients are astragalus and ginseng. Astragalus has been used as a dietary supplement for fatigue, although studies aren’t conclusive about its efficacy. Ginseng is full of antioxidants, which may help boost your body’s immunity.

But energy claims for these herbs are anecdotal, so be sure to talk to your doctor before trying this supplement. Ginseng can interact with any medications (especially blood thinners) you may already be taking.

Buy: $30 at Moon Juice

4. Essential for Women by Ritual

Created exclusively for women, Ritual’s Essential for Women is all about the vitamins women need and none of the filler. It’s also vegan and free of gluten, soy, and synthetic ingredients. The amazing thing that separates this supplement from the rest is that it’s high in what you really need, such as vitamins D and E, iron, magnesium, and more. Most brands tend to load up on vitamins A and C, which most diets cover anyway, especially vegan and vegetarian diets.

Buy: $30 at Ritual

5. Pure Skin Clarifying Dietary Supplement by Murad

Oily or combination skin? There may be a vitamin for that. Murad’s highly reviewed Pure Skin Clarifying Dietary Supplement has positive effects for many people. The active ingredients are vitamin A, which may help prevent clogged pores, and zinc, which can reduce skin irritation, decrease oil production, and improve skin health. Directions suggest taking two tablets in the morning and evening for your journey toward clear skin.

Buy: $50 at Sephora

Read more: The best vitamins and minerals for acne “

6. Care/of

Sometimes, even the best vitamin packs won’t meet your specific needs. That’s where Care/of comes in. After you fill out a comprehensive quiz about your health, goals, and lifestyle, Care/of will provide combination suggestions to tackle your concerns. Their cute personalized vitamin packs will make taking your daily supplements a lot more pleasant.

Buy: $35 per month at Care/of


Don’t forget to listen to your body! What works for other people may not work for you, which is why we rounded up six different options for you to look into. We also recommend reading reviews before clicking the “Add to Cart” button, as each person’s experience differs. If you have any concerns, call your healthcare provider or talk to your doctor before starting any supplements. Herbs and vitamins can interact with other medication you take.

Women’s Pure Pack 30 packets

Supplemental Facts

  • Amount Per Serving
  • nine capsules contain:
  • calories 10
  • total fat 1 g
  • cholesterol
  • vitamin A (as beta carotene) 1,125 mcg
  • vitamin C (as ascorbic acid) 125 mg
  • vitamin D (as cholecalciferol) (D3) 37.5 mg (1,500 IU)
  • vitamin E (as d-alpha tocopherol succinate and natural tocopherols) 34 mg
  • vitamin K (as vitamin K1) 50 mcg
  • thiamin (as thiamin HCl) (B1) 12.5 mg
  • riboflavin (as vitamin B2 and 28% riboflavin 5′ phosphate (activated B2)) 17.35 mg
  • niacin (as niacin and 67% niacinamide) 37.5 mg
  • vitamin B6 (as pyridoxine HCl and 40% pyridoxal 5′ phosphate (activated B6)) 10.4 mg
  • folate (as Metafolin®, L-5-MTHF) 667 mcg DFE (L-5-MTHF 400 mcg)
  • vitamin B12 (as methylcobalamin). 250 mcg
  • biotin 1,000 mcg
  • pantothenic acid (as calcium pantothenate) (B5) 25 mg
  • calcium (as calcium citrate) 500 mg
  • iodine (as potassium iodide) 100 mcg
  • magnesium (as magnesium citrate) 50 mg
  • zinc (as zinc citrate) 7.5 mg
  • selenium (from selenium yeast) 100 mcg
  • manganese (as manganese citrate) 1 mg
  • chromium (as chromium polynicotinate) 100 mcg
  • potassium (as potassium citrate) 50 mg
  • boron (as boron glycinate) 1 mg
  • vanadium (as bis-glycinato oxo vanadium) 50 mcg
  • proprietary mixed carotenoid blend (as lutein, lycopene, zeaxanthin) 212 mcg
  • choline (as choline bitartrate) 20 mg
  • inositol 62.5 mg
  • alpha lipoic acid 37.5 mg
  • coenzyme Q10 60 mg
  • FloraGLO® lutein 3 mg
  • zeaxanthin 500 mcg
  • red wine grape (Vitis vinifera) concentrate (whole fruit) 50 mg
    • (standardized to contain 25% total polyphenols)
  • grape (Vitis vinifera) extract (seed) 50 mg
    • (standardized to contain 92% polyphenols)
  • pomegranate (Punica granatum) extract (whole fruit) 50 mg
    • (standardized to contain 40% punicosides)
  • cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) concentrate (fruit) 60 mg
  • assai palm (Açai) (Euterpe oleracea) extract (whole fruit) 600 mg
  • blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) extract (fruit) 15 mg
  • HMRlignin™ (7-hydroxymatairesinol) 5 mg
  • green tea (Camellia sinensis) extract (leaf) 50 mg
    • (standardized to contain 65% total tea catechins and 23% epigallocatechin (EGCG))
  • turmeric (Curcuma longa) extract (root) 50 mg
    • (standardized to contain 95% curcuminoids)
  • calcium-D-glucarate 25 mg
  • rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) extract (root) 50 mg
    • (standardized to contain 3% total rosavins and 1% salidroside)
  • lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) extract (leaf) 25 mg
    • (standardized to contain 5% rosmarinic acid)
  • fish oil concentrate (anchovies, sardines, mackerel) 1,000 mg
  • providing:
    • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) 300 mg
    • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) 200 mg
  • other ingredients: : vegetarian capsule (cellulose, water), gelatin capsule (gelatin, glycerin, water), hypoallergenic plant fiber (cellulose), ascorbyl palmitate, cranberry fiber, cranberry seed oil, guar gum, sunflower lecithin
  • Metafolin® is a registered trademark of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.
  • Curcumin C3 Complex® is a registered trademark and patented product of Sabinsa Corporation.
  • HMRlignan™ is a trademark of Linnea Inc
  • This product contains calcium D-glucarate, the use of which is licensed from Applied Food Sciences, Inc. and protected by U.S. Patent 7,662,863.
  • FloraGLO® is a registered trademark of Kemin Industries, Inc.
  • Zeaxanthin is sourced from OPTISHARP® brand. OPTISHARP® is a trademark of DSM Nutritional Products, Inc.
  • ChromeMate® brand niacin-bound chromium. ChromeMate® is a registered trademark of InterHealth, N.I.
  • Kaneka Q10® is a U.S. registered trademark of Kaneka Corporation.
  • Contains fish (anchovies, sardines, mackerel)
  • Vitamin K may be contraindicated with Coumadin (Warfarin). If you are taking blood thinning medication, consult your health professional before use.
  • Take 1 packet daily (9 capsules), with a meal.

Looking for an affordable personalized way to to get the right vitamins and supplements your body actually needs delivered straight to your door each month?

If so, then you should definitely consider trying a monthly vitamin subscription!

With a vitamin subscription, all the guesswork will be eliminated as experts will help you build a personalized daily vitamin pack to help your health and diet goals.

Best of all, each of these vitamin subscriptions offer healthier versions of vitamins than the ones you’ll find at your local drugstore.

So whether if you’re looking for awesome vitamin recommendations, prenatal vitamins, or even if you already know what exactly you’re looking for but just want to save some money, there’s a vitamin subscription for you!

Best Vitamin Subscriptions

Here are the best vitamin subscriptions both men and women should definitely consider this month:

1. Care/Of

Cost: Prices start at $5 a month.

What you get: With Care/Of, you’ll get a personalized daily vitamin pack made with better ingredients along with honest guidance to help you find the perfect supplements. Plus, it’s cheaper than most health foods stores!

Join: Join HERE.

2. Vitafive

Cost: $14.99 a month.

What you get: Get a 4 week subscription of vitamin gummies that you’ll absolutely love. Best of all, the gummies are all gluten free, vegan, and allergy friendly! To get started, just choose the vitamins that you need and Vitafive will send you 28 daily packs. Plus, there’s both a gummy vitamin subscription for kids and adults.

Join: Join HERE.

3. Persona (Vitamin Packs)

Cost: Prices start at $3 a month.

What you get: With Persona (previously known as Vitamin Packs), you’ll get a personalized vitamin program/routine developed by their team of experts along with unique vitamin packs based on what your body needs.

Join: Get 50% off your first order HERE.

4. Ritual

Cost: $30 a month.

What you get: You’ll receive a 30 day supply of a unique multivitamin for women that contains nine essential ingredients that most women don’t get enough of out of their diet alone such as Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3, Folate, Vitamin D3, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Magnesium, Iron, Boron, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K2 MK7.

Join: Get your vitamin supply HERE.

5. Honest Health and Wellness Bundle

Cost: $35.95 a month.

What you get: Get 2 thoughtfully formulated supplements for women, men, and kids delivered straight to your door each month. In each bundle, you can choose from once daily vitamins for men, women, or kids, prenatal vitamins, or even gummies. Best of all, when you bundle it, you’ll save over 35%!

Join: Join HERE.

6. Rootine

Cost: $2 a day.

What you get: Get a 90 day supply of daily vitamin packs that are meticulously crafted to match you DNA, blood levels, and lifestyle delivered every 3 months.

Join: Get free shipping HERE.

Thanks for reading and hopefully you find the best vitamin subscription box possible.


This post contains affiliate links which means that I will make a small commission if you purchase a product after clicking on any of them, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support.

GNC Women’s Ultra Mega Energy & Metabolism Review

Women’s Ultra Mega Energy & Metabolism is a women’s multivitamin that is made by the well-known vitamin company GNC (chances are you’ve found yourself shopping for supplements and powders there once or twice before). Their women’s multivitamin reports being clinically studies, energy boosting, calorie torching, and antioxidant packed. And they also claim to help with other things like hair strength and bone health.

We decided to check it out.

Note: Multivitamins shouldn’t be seen as replacements for a healthy diet or medication. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning a new fitness, nutritional, and/or supplement routine. Individual needs for vitamins and minerals will vary. The list below simply includes our favorite brands and shouldn’t be taken as medical advice.


Women’s Ultra Mega Energy & Metabolism was formulated with a solid blend of B vitamins, antioxidants, and two concentrated “superfood” blends including an antioxidant blend and energy and metabolism. Of it’s ~30 ingredients, the supplement offers 100% or more of your recommended daily values for 21 vitamins and minerals, and 200% or more of your recommended daily values for 9.

Below, we highlight some the ingredients in Women’s Ultra Mega Energy & Metabolism, including the ones we deemed as being particularly noteworthy or interesting.

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Vitamin D 1600 IU

Vitamin D is involved in almost everything we do like building proteins and enzymes, boosting the immune system, and fighting inflammation, all of which are integral to athlete recovery and Women’s Ultra Mega Energy & Metabolism offers 400% of your daily needs. Because it’s hard to get the right amount from food, you have to get the rest of your daily needs through sun exposure (which is tricky during the winter) and supplementation.

Folic Acid 400 mcg

Whether you’re growing out your nails, fighting depression, or looking to fight inflammation, you want this ingredient in your multi. As athletes you know that some inflammation is good, but too much isn’t, so folic acid may be a plus to active women.

GNC Women’s Ultra Mega Energy & Metabolism GNC Women’s Ultra Mega Energy & Metabolism

The GNC Women’s Ultra Mega Energy & Metabolism offers a wide variety of useful ingredients to power your overall health and daily energy.

Biotin 300 mcg

ICYDK, that’s a lot of Biotin. 100% of your daily needs to be exact. Biotin is good ingredients luscious locks and it has been shown to boost nail health, which is why it’s typically included in women-specific multi’s.

B Vitamins

The B vitamins referred to as “B complex” are crucial for optimal health, helping our bodies convert our food into fuel and promoting healthy skin, memory, pregnancies, and more.

GNC claims that this multi is “packed with B vitamins to support energy production” and research suggests that B Vitamins may actually have that effect. In addition to Vitamin B7 (Biotin) and Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid), in this multi you can expect to find 50 mg of Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), 50 mg of Vitamin B6, 50 mg of Vitamin B12, 50 mg of Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) , 50 mg of Niacin (Vitamin B3), 50 mg of Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B3), and 400 mcg of Folic Acid (Vitamin B9).

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Calcium 500 mg

500 mg of Calcium may only be 50% of your daily needs, it’s actually super rare to see this ingredient in a multivitamin.

Zinc 25 mg

Raise your hand if you’re stressed out. If your hand is up, you may be low in this mineral. Athletes may also be deficient, because exercise may makes us feel great, but it’s still a stressor on our bodies, so athletes in particular tend to be deficient. Why is that an issue? Not enough zinc may dull your taste buds, which ups the chances that you’ll add sugar or salt to your food so getting 25 Mg (or 167% daily values) is a definite positive.

Magnesium 100 mg

Low levels of calcium and magnesium (which often go hand in hand) are known for sparking sugar and salt cravings. Low magnesium levels in particular are known for upping those chocolate cravings. And while a serving of chocolate protein powder is NBD, a chocolate bar every single day might be.

Molybdenum 75 Mcg

This is probably the most surprising ingredient on the list, because it’s not often included in multivitamins, that’s because humans don’t need much of it, and what we do need we usually get from food. It’s basic role is to help us break down fats and carbs for energy. But it’s also abundant in human tooth enamel and may have a role in lowering the risk of tooth decay (NBD for women in their 20’s, but might be important for women 50+).

Super Antioxidant Blend

If you’re wondering what the heck this is, according to GNC, it’s a blend packed with 25 mg alpha-lipoic acid, 2mg of Lutemax® 2020 Lutein, 1 mg of lycopene, 500 mg of turmeric root extract, 400 mcg zeaxanthin, 50 mcg of Astaxanthin, and 10 mg of beta-Cryptoxanthin. Here’s the things: there’s no research specifically how these ingredients work together in a blend. But science has shown consuming antioxidants may be good for your heart health, may help lower your risk of infections and some forms of cancer, and could help with inflammation.

Pill size for GNC Multivitamin

Energy & Metabolism Blend 137 mg

The multi’s namesake, this blend is made up of caffeine anhydrous, green tea extract, eleuthero root extract, and black pepper fruit. To be clear, “caffeine anhydrous” is really just a highly concentrated caffeine powder. Like HIGHLY concentrated. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a teaspoon of caffeine anhydrous is the equivalent of 28 cups of coffee.

One serving, or 2 pills of GNC Women’s Ultra Mega Energy & Metabolism, packs 100mg of caffeine, which is about the amount of caffeine equivalent to a 6oz cup of coffee.

As for the other ingredients in this blend? Green tea extract is high in antioxidants and some research suggests that the green tea & caffeine combo may be beneficial for weight loss. Eleuthero root extract is an adaptogen that isn’t well studied, but it’s worth noting that while some studies support the conclusion that adaptogens have promise and potential at reducing stress, improving attention, upping endurance, and fighting fatigue. Black pepper fruit also lacks much research-backed claims, but some websites claim it aids in digestion.

Other ingredients include:

  • Vitamin A 5000 IU
  • Vitamin C 200 mg
  • Vitamin K 80 mcg,
  • Iron 18 mg
  • Selenium 200 mcg
  • Copper 2 mg
  • Manganese 2 mg
  • Chromium 120 mcg
  • Vitamin E 30 IU
  • Choline 10 mg
  • Inositol 10 mg
  • Silic 4 mg

It’s also worth noting that the vitamin contains cellulose, stearic acid vegetable source, magnesium stearate vegetable source, titanium dioxide (natural mineral whitener), natural vanilla mint flavor, talc, chlorophyll, stevia leaf extract for taste and shape. Additionally, this product may contain traces of soy and is not vegetarian.

Women’s Ultra Mega Energy & Metabolism Benefits and Effectiveness

CrossFit is my jam. Hot yoga is my new Sunday tradition. Running over the Queensborough bridge is my idea of active recovery. And for me, no day in Central Park is complete without a little game of touch-rugby or frisbee. I may not be as active as a CrossFit Games Athlete, but “active” is likely an understatement.

With my activity level in mind, and the fact that I’ve been taking Flintstone gummies since I was a kid, it’s no surprise that I’m always looking for a supplement to boost my health ( BTW, did you know that 30% of millennial women report taking a multi?). Last month, I decided to try a relatively inexpensive product with big claims (and positive reviews) about increasing energy: GNC Women’s Ultra Mega Energy & Metabolism.

If this pill was a Tinder date, I’d definitely take it out on a second date. Which is to say, it makes a killer first impression. It has a nice seagreen color, smells like mint, tastes like pre-chewed minty gun (which honestly isn’t terrible compared to other multi’s). Let me repeat myself. This multi doesn’t smell or taste like garbage Or old arugula. Or canned tuna. It smells like mint. Mint!

Yep, I’m officially making my standards higher.

As for the size, it’s big but not too big (*insert that’s what she said joke here*). It’s certainly larger than an your average OTC pain reliever, but I’ve seen (and tried) larger. Visualize of the size of a singleMike & Ike, and you’ll have a decent sense of the size of these buggers.

The bottle says, “take two tablets with food”, so I didn’t stray from the instructions to see how it would affect my tummy without breakfast. But when I took the pills with a breakfast of collagen protein smoothie or 2 spoonfuls (okay, fine, 2.5) of almond butter, I had no stomach issue. And whenever a supplement doesn’t affect my digestive system, I’m seriously ecstatic. So this was a total win (especially considering the pill contains iron, which my stomach has reacted poorly to in the past).

After reading other reviews of the products, I expected Women’s Ultra Mega Energy & Metabolism to increase my energy levels because the product contains 100 mg of caffeine and the reviews were pretty positive. One women said “This product made me jittery” while another noted “As a Mom of 5 young children I was feeling very much worn down and exhausted all the time, I was finding it hard to get all my chores done and I was always needing naps, I knew I needed to do something so I started searching for a Vitamin As soon as I got them, I started taking them and immediately noticed a huge difference in my energy”. And a third wrote, “I DO have a bit more energy than normal. A little more pep in my step, if you will.” But, I’m going to be honest…I didn’t feel any noteworthy effects. Perhaps that’s because consuming two 12 ounce coffee a day is my norm, so the extra caffeine simply didn’t affect me the way it might someone who regularly consumes less caffeine.

The biggest downfall is that I sort of felt like I was flushing all (or at least, most) of the nutrients in the pills down the toilet. A quick science lesson: When it comes to vitamins and minerals, how well we’re able to absorb nutrients, matters a lot (it’s called bioavailability). When we can’t properly absorb the nutrients, we end up excreting them in a funny-colored stream. If my neon-yellow pee-color is any indication, my body wasn’t actually able to absorb the vitamins in Women’s Ultra Mega Energy & Metabolism. That said, Amazon reviewers are notoriously honest, and there weren’t any reviews that mentioned the that the pill turned their pee neon yellow, so you may not have this side effect. While I didn’t feel the same pep-in-my-step the way Laura from Amazon did, I certainly didn’t feel any worse.

Another potential downfall of this product is that it includes a few blends of ingredients which are not well researched. But that’s the vitamin industry for you and the same can be said about many products in the supplemental market are not well researched, so this should not come as a surprise.

Women’s Ultra Mega Energy & Metabolism Price

48 cents a day. $3.36 per week. $14.40 per month. That’s how inexpensive this multivitamin is. Seriously. That’s less than a salad at lunch (or at least a salad at lunch in New York City…).

The Takeaway

I think that this product is a great deal. At less than 50 cents a day, it’s among least expensive multivitamins I’ve tried. And it has ~30 different ingredients, 21 of which offer 100 percent or more of recommended daily values. Given the price and ingredient content, I don’t see many drawbacks in incorporating this vitamin into your wellness routine, unless your caffeine sensitive. Plus, it tastes and smells good.

The only two downsides here are the size, so if pills are your nemesis, this baby probably isn’t for you because you have to take two. And the fact that it’s not vegetarian or vegan, which depending on your dietary preferences may be an issue for you.

GNC Women’s Ultra Mega Energy

$0.48 8.4 7.0/10








  • Taste and Smell
  • Well Priced
  • Fine on Stomach
  • Gluten-Free
  • No artificial flavors/colors


  • Not vegan/vegetarian
  • Pill Size
  • Daily multivitamin, no immediate effects

Written by Courtney, Contributing Writer

The foods we consume and the lifestyle we live form the foundation of our health. The nutrients in the foods we eat are the building blocks for all of the biological activity within the various systems of our bodies. Disease occurs when our bodies lack the nutrients necessary to perform these functions properly.

This can be due to a poor diet, an inactive lifestyle, harmful chemicals we inhale or absorb through our skin, or undue stress from a reliance on our own strength to get through the day to day instead of finding our strength in the Lord.

There are a multitude of vitamins and supplements to help support our hurried lifestyles and sometimes less-than-ideal food choices. Walk into any grocery or discount store and you can become overwhelmed with the supplements available to you.

Are Supplements Necessary?

Over the years, I’ve wrestled with the idea of using vitamins and minerals to supplement my family’s diet. I have mixed feelings about supplements.

Ideally, I believe we should obtain vitamins and minerals through the diet, just like we do the macronutrients protein, fats, carbohydrates. When we select nutrient-dense nourishing foods, the nutrients obtained from them are in their natural state in the proper ratios and are easily absorbed and utilized most effectively within the body. Supplements can contain imbalanced ratios or poor quality nutirents that pass through the body without being absorbed and used. This is certainly the case with synthetically-formulated supermarket vitamins.

Now, on the other hand, we can’t deny the fact that the soil we tend today is inferior to that which our ancestors once enjoyed. Our current agricultural system has stripped the soil of the majority of nutrients necessary for strong, healthy plant growth. As a result, plants cannot withstand disease and pests and thus need to be doused with strong chemical fertilizers to grow in the first place and pesticides to stay alive.

Our conventional fruits, vegetables, and grains are anything but thriving. Because the health of the soil is critical for plant health, today’s grains and produce contain a fraction of the nutrients they once did. Organic produce is healthier, but no doubt still affected by conventional farming methods.

For this reason, it may be wise to include supplements in our diet. Which ones and how much are tricky questions, though, and should be based on a variety of factors, taking into consideration things like the availability of local seasonal foods as well as past and current health history.

With the exception of cod liver oil, my family doesn’t take vitamins or other supplements on a regular basis. We will sometimes take muilti-vitamins and occasionally specific vitamins or minerals to treat a specific illness or when a deficiency is suspected. I typically take a multi-vitamin throughout most of my pregnancies and during most of the first year or so while breastfeeding, just for that peace of mind. I will sometimes keep a supply of chidlren’s multivitamins on hand for stretches of reduced appetites or to boost little immune systems during periods when illness abounds during the winter months. Honestly, though, my biggest concern during those winter months is a lack of vitman D, which we do get through the cod liver oil.

I understand the dangers and pitfalls of vitamin supplements, namely the tendency to eat more carelessly while on them and the incredible spectrum of quality among the different types and brands out there. I’m careful to not rely on them, but instead to use them wisely and sparingly only as needed. We seek to meet the majority of our nutritional needs through food. Thoughtfully selecting nutritious foods and preparing nourishing meals is a priority and something I take much joy in as a mother.

A Homemade Herbal Mixture to Supplement a Healthy Diet

I’ve learned that herbs can be an excellent way to support a healthy diet and over time, I’ve come to rely on herbal preparations where I once counted on vitamin pills. Many whole food-based vitamins do contain concentrated foods and herbs to supply vital nutrients, and this is ideal when selecting a good vitamin source.

I’m not saying all vitamins are bad or that you should stop taking them. We still take vitamins from time to time, especially to treat illnesses since we don’t rely on conventional medicine. But for the most part, I like to use herbal powder mixes in place of the packaged vitamin for a number of reasons.

  1. Nutrients straight from whole foods/herbs are more bioavailable, meaning they are best absorbed because they are in their natural form along with the proper ratio of complimentary vitamins and minerals that aid in their absorption.
  2. Concentrated herbal powders contain more than just vitamins and minerals. Phytochemicals in the forms of cartenoids and flavonoids, for instance, are present in dried herbs, but not all vitamin supplements contain them. Phytochemicals are beneficial for a number reasons, probably the most important being their antioxidant properties.
  3. Herbal powders don’t contain any sweeteners or additives.
  4. I can alter my herbal powder mixes to meet specific needs during different ages or stages. (For example, during my first trimester of this pregnancy, I included ginger root powder in my herbal mixture to help improve digestion and alleviate fatigue and nausea. I’ve also included eleuthero root in the past to boost energy and help combat stress and lemon peel for extra vitamin C.)
  5. Herbal powder preparations are less expensive than vitamins, and when I throw together my own herbs instead of purchasing prepared herbal powders, the savings are even greater.

Over the years, I’ve used various brands of prepackaged herb powder mixes to help supplement my family’s diet. This can get expensive, although not quite as costly as your typical vitamin. Last year, I decided to go one step further and start making my own, which means I can adjust the recipe according to my family’s needs. I’ve altered my recipe a bit over the last year, but currently it contains the following ingredients, all in powder form. (Some are purchased in powder form and others are ground at home.) All are added in about a one to one ration with the exception of wheatgrass, spiriluna, and alfalfa, which are added in greater amounts due to their particularly desirable nutritive properties.

Wheatgrass: Wheatgrass is the highlight of this powder mix. It is a very concentrated source of a multitude of nutrients, including beneficial enzymes that make it so easily digestible. It contains all essential amino acids, making it a complete protein, and is particularly known for it’s high chlorophyll and mineral content. It is rich in B vitamins and vitamins A, C, D, E, and K. There are entire books just on wheatgrass and its benefits. Some say it nourishes and revitalizes practically every cell and every system within the body. I’m sure some of its claims are exaggerated, but I’m convinced it’s good stuff! I like to grow my own because it’s so easy and grows so quickly, but when I do, we juice it and consume it that way. For this herbal mix, I purchase wheatgrass powder from my local food co-op. I’m sure it would be simple to grow and dehydrate your own, though!

Barley Grass: A complete protein (contains all essential amino acids), barley grass also contains an abundance of vitamins and minerals, noted for its high amount of calcium and iron in particular.

Oat Straw: A good source of protein, B vitamins, vitamin A, and several minerals including calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and iron. Oat Straw is great for a number of things, but is best known for its positive effect on the nervous system and its ability to stabilize blood sugar.

Alfalfa: Alfalfa has always been one of my favorite herbal supplements! It is a rich source of minerals due to it’s deep roots that soak up trace minerals from far beneath the soil. It is a good source of vitamins, particularly vitamin A, C, E, and K. It contains a great amount of chlorophyll and is another complete protein.

Spiriluna: A blue-green algae containing large amounts of chlorophyll (green) and phycocyanin (blue), spiriluna’s benefits are numerous. It is another excellent and complete source of protein and a good source of several essential fatty acids, it also contains a great amount of vitamins and minerals.

Kelp: Kelp is a great source of minerals. I especially appreciate kelp powder for its high amount of iodine. We use real salt, sourced from the sea and unrefined. Real salt contains iodine but not in significant amounts. Iodine is critical for many body functions, particularly metabolism and thyroid function. It is best sourced from sea food, but but for a diet lower in seafood, kelp is an excellent supplement.

Fennel Seed Powder: Fennel seeds are a good source of minerals, particularly rich in iron, and contain vitamins A, C, E, and some B vitamins, as well as other antioxidants.

Stinging Nettle: Well-known for a variety of functions within the body. It is espeically rich in iron and contains plenty of vitamin C for iron absorption. It is also high in vitamin K.

Dandelion: Where do I even begin? Dandelion is rich in B vitamins, vitamins A, C, and E and is a good source of the minerals potassium, iron, and zinc. It is a mild cleansing and detoxifying herb, but not so much so that it can’t be used safely during pregnancy and in young children. Stephanie describes the benefits of dandelions and shares her own experience harvesting and drying her own dandelions here.

Rose Hips: Probably one of the best sources of vitamin C, rose hips is also desired for it’s rich source of carotenoids, including beta-carotene, lycopene and luetin, and other antioxidants. This makes rose hips great for boosting the immune system and protecting cells from oxidative damage.

Tumeric: This is an overall fantastic herb, not to mention a tasty culinary spice! A good-quality tumeric found in a bulk herb or health food store supports many systems within the body. It is a fantastic antioxidant, contains a number of vitamins and minerals, and is also notable for how well it supports healthy metabolism.

Nutritional Yeast: Nutritional yeast contains a decent amount of fiber and protein as well as some trace minerals, namely zinc and selenium, but it is best known for its high amount of B vitamins.

This recipe is not perfect, but it is my attempt at ensuring my family receives an abundant supply of nutrients from natural sources.I have altered this powder mix as I discovered new herbal sources of specific nutrients to meet specific needs. As you can see, this current recipe contains an abundance of B vitamins. I sought to add more sources of B vitamins early in my current pregnancy to be sure I was getting an adequate supply and to try to help with severe exhaustion. I also wanted to ensure an adequate supply of naturally-sourced and highly absorbable iron, so that is not lacking here, either.

The Perfect Addition to Your Daily Smoothie or Fresh Juice

How do we take this herbal concoction?

My family loves smoothies! We make up a family-sized batch nearly every morning. My ten year-old daughter has taken over the task of preparing our morning smoothies because she finds so much satisfaction in creating various combinations of this nutritious treat. We sometimes call her our “Smoothie Girl” in because of her love of this task.

We simply add what we call our “super power powder” with whatever we decide to throw into the blender that day. We rarely follow recipes for smoothies. It really just depends on what we have on hand and what sounds good at the time. A typical smoothies contains about half veggies and half fruit along with either water or yogurt. We sometimes dress up our smoothies with freshly-ground flax seeds, chia seeds, coconut oil, fish oil, raw eggs, fresh parsley (or other herbs), or anything else that sounds nutritious and delicious.

Kale and spinach are our favorite go-to greens, probably the base of most of our smoothies. Other favorite smoothie veggies are beets, carrots, celery, tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers, and chard. Our favorite fruits for smoothies are bananas and berries, particularly blueberries and raspberries. Other fruits we often add are mangoes, pineapples, avocados, peaches, and pears. We try to use either seasonal or frozen fruit.

Over time, we’ve learned to gauge how much to add without measuring, so I’m not a great source of smoothie recipe amounts, even though we’ve tried just about everything! We make enough for my older children and I to have about 8 ounces each, while the younger ones (5 and under) get about 4-6 ounces each.

We add about 1/4 -1/3 cup of the herbal mixture to our smoothie batch, which ends up being about one tablespoon each for the older children and myself and about 1/2 tablespoon or so for the little ones. Some days we use more or less or leave it out altogether, depending on the type of smoothie we’re making. Also, it’s not something we take daily, just most of the time.

Interestingly, my youngest children devour their smoothies faster and seem to enjoy them even more than the older ones do. I think it’s because they were accustomed to drinking such a variety of fresh flavor combinations at a much earlier age. Smoothies are a great way to serve fresh fruits and vegetables in a very digestible form to babies and toddlers! Serving them early in the morning gets them off to a great start and ensures they fill up on plenty of essential nutrient-dense foods, which is very important in the early years when their little appetites wax and wane.

I do want to remind you that I am not an expert in nutrition. I’m simply a mom who wants to provide the best foundation of health for my family. I believe the food and herbs God created are the best way to nourish my family, and I am delighted to share with you some of the creative ways I’ve learned to do so! I’d love to hear your input as I know my herbal powder recipe is far from perfect. I’m always learning new ways to keep my family well-nourished and healthy.

Are Personalized Vitamins Actually Worth It?

Photo: Africa Studio /

Let’s be real: The drugstore vitamin aisle can be a super-overwhelming place. From giant, chalky pills to brightly colored gummies that taste like candy, vitamins come in so many forms and formulations that it can feel impossible to know which ones are best for you-or if you would even benefit from swallowing them.

That’s why a new crop of companies is looking to disrupt the $80 billion vitamin industry. They’re proffering vitamins that are more personalized, more convenient, and even (like all other health trends these days) more Instagram-worthy. (Hi, unicorn food.)

You won’t find these new vitamin brands in your neighborhood drugstore, though. They’re selling mostly direct-to-consumer (just like your favorite new mattress and electric toothbrush), and they’re using unique techniques to catch customers’ attention. Example: You’ve likely seen the personalized packs on your Insta feed or in the hands of your favorite wellness blogger.

All in all, it seems like getting and staying healthy just got much easier, right? Eh, not so fast.

First, let’s rewind: Do you even need a multivitamin? The verdict is still out, but most of the research says no. “There’s little evidence to suggest a daily multivitamin supplement plays a prominent role in improving overall health and well-being,” says Paul Salter, M.S., R.D., nutrition editor at and founder of Fit In Your Dress. An often-cited 2012 review of studies showed that 40 to 50 percent of men and women age 50 years and older regularly take a multivitamin, and concluded there is no overall benefit from taking a multivitamin supplement.

It’s worth noting that this particular study has its flaws, says Arielle Levitan, M.D., author of The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear the Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health. “It looked at large groups of people taking generic multivitamins with little accounting for the fact that many stopped taking them,” she explains. “They also only looked at mortality as an endpoint.”

Now, other research shows that certain vitamins do improve mortality if taken thoughtfully for the right people in the right setting, she notes. That’s why a more personalized approach to the multivitamin is a sounder strategy.

The Perks of Personalized Vitamins

That’s where customization comes into play. “Most of us do need to supplement with a combination of vitamins, but the amounts and the vitamins vary from person to person based on their diets, lifestyle, and health considerations,” Dr. Levitan says. (Ex: Many active women are short on magnesium.)

Even if you don’t need to take a big, fat multivitamin every day, you may be lacking in certain nutrients for your specific health needs-and, yes, you’re likely still falling short even if you eat a “healthy” diet. (Just read this dietitian’s essay about why you can’t get everything you need from food.) That being said, recommending that everyone take the same thing probably isn’t the answer, explains Dr. Levitan.

To account for various lifestyle and gender factors, many of these new companies offer quizzes that help determine which vitamins or supplements are right for you.

When you visit the website of Persona Nutrition, Care/Of, or VitaMe, for example, you’ll be greeted with a quiz. The questions will inquire about your basic stats (age, gender, where you live) and lifestyle choices (do you eat red meat? how often do you exercise?), along with your health goals and current concerns (digestive distress, energy levels, skin issues, etc.). Then they recommend the right vitamin(s) for you. According to Salter, this is “a clever and creative strategy that is beneficial because nutrient needs are impacted by age, exercise, and diet habits.”

Gender plays a part, too, since women have unique nutrient needs, especially in different stages of life. (That’s why one new company, Ritual, is like a “no boys allowed” vitamins club; they claim to have narrowed down their formula to only the essential nutrients that women need.)

For instance, women need more iron than men do, since they lose iron during their menstrual cycles each month, as well as during pregnancies, says Salter. Women also have a greater need for calcium, since they have a faster cell turnover rate than men, he notes. The requirements are different during your reproductive years too, says Lauren Manaker, M.S., R.D.N., L.D., owner of Nutrition Now. Folate, in particular, is a must for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive, and you may not be getting enough from a generic multi, she notes.

Other helpful supplements you may find in a personalized vitamin pack? Probiotics. “Certain probiotic strains can offer a host of benefits for women who have digestive issues,” says Manaker. (Here: Find the Best Probiotic for You in 3 Steps) However, “If you notice indigestion after meals (gas, bloating, heartburn), you might want to consider taking a digestive enzyme instead,” says Alissia Zenhausern, N.M.D., a naturopathic doctor at Wellness of Scottsdale. “They help your body properly digest your food and absorb key nutrients in your diet.” Another key nutrient many people miss in a basic multi: vitamin D. Many people don’t realize they might be deficient, even if they live somewhere where the sun’s always shining. “I practice in sunny Arizona, and 80 percent of my patients are vitamin D deficient,” Zenhausern notes. Your personalized vitamin could hook you up with any-or all-of these, depending on what you might need.

Where Personalized Vitamins Fall Short

However, some health professionals believe these personalized quizzes are just a clever marketing strategy without a ton of substance. (You know, like those Buzzfeed quizzes that tell you which ’90s cartoon character you are.)

“These online questionnaires are a good starting point, but in my opinion, nothing replaces micronutrient testing and a consultation with a registered dietitian,” says Manaker. (FYI: Micronutrient labs can be drawn like any routine blood test, and can provide accurate markers for levels of certain micronutrients and vitamins. Depending on the provider ordering it, these tests can be costly, she notes.)

“It’s great that these supplement companies are using recent research for micronutrient recommendations specifically for women’s issues, but the recommendations are being generalized,” says Manaker. She likens the “free supplement evaluation” to the concept of “free interior design” offered in a lot of furniture stores: “Their ‘free’ service often leads to sales of their furniture.” In other words, these companies will only recommend products that they sell, and therefore the “free” evaluation is more often a marketing plan. However, “I do think it is better than randomly ordering supplements online with no knowledge base of what is needed,” she notes.

Also, be aware that many herbal supplements are not studied extensively, and therefore a lot of the side effects are unknown, says Manaker. “Although they are ‘natural’ and some may offer a benefit, others may interact with certain medications and cause more harm than good.” (Here are five tips for buying herbal medicine safely.)

Finally, to keep in mind before you buy: “Always consult your physician before taking any medications or supplements,” says Zenhausern. Just like any medication, supplements and vitamins should always be taken after consulting with your physician as they too have possible side effects and risks.

Also, look past the shiny, Instagram-ready marketing techniques, Zenhausern suggests, and dig into the research, testing, and quality behind the brand’s products instead. Make sure they disclose all purity, safety, and testing methods, and look for what is listed at the bottom of the label as “other ingredients,” says Zenhausern. “Make sure no synthetic fillers or food colorings are used to make the vitamins look more appealing.” Look out for artificial colors (Blue No. 1, 2, or 3, Red No. 3 or 40, or Yellow No 5 or 6), as well as partially hydrogenated soybean oil, which is a major filler found in the majority of vitamins. Lead, mercury and PBCs (polychlorinated biphenyls) can be found in fish oils, and should also be avoided, Zenhausern notes.

Still want to ditch your generic multi for a personalized product? Here’s a rundown of the major players on the market to check out.

Personalized Vitamin Companies

  • Care/Of: Take this company’s quiz to answer a series of questions-including basic stats, health goals, and lifestyle habits-and they’ll build you a personalized daily vitamin pack geared to address your specific concerns.
  • Ritual: These pretty pills aren’t exactly personalized, but they’re said to contain only the nine most essential nutrients for women’s health, backed by the latest scientific data. They’re also gluten-free and vegan, and are scented with peppermint-a millennial-friendly multi, if you will.
  • Goop Wellness:The Gwyneth Paltrow–backed wellness site provides vitamin and supplement protocols for four health issues many modern women face (for example: “Why am I so effing tired?”). They’re all created from carefully “sourced and tested ingredients.”
  • VitaMe:Here, you’ll take a health quiz that collects data about your lifestyle, diet, and health goals and cross-checks with scientific data to recommend your optimal nutrition plan. Your vitamins are delivered to your door every month.
  • Zenamins:Choose exactly which vitamins, minerals, and supplements you want or they can help guide you to suggest a pack. They’ll custom pack your vitamins into mini-packs, which you can tear off when you travel.
  • HUM Nutrition: HUM is a “beauty vitamin brand” whose mission is to help consumers “look and feel their best by providing clinically proven products.” They also offer free access to registered dieticians who can provide support, advice, and personalized recommendations via the website.
  • Multiply Labs: They’ll design a single-capsule vitamin that contains everything you need, using “scientific research and innovative technology” to ensure that your personalized capsule is safe and effective.
  • Vitamin Packs: Fill out a questionnaire about your current health and lifestyle, and their algorithm will comb through the latest research and expertise to give you a personalized recommendation. If you’re unsure about the rec, you can chat with one of their nutritionists right on the site. They also offer a pre/post natal vitamin, as well as “Foundational Multi” that contains a naturally sourced K2, which 80 percent of people are deficient in but which isn’t found in most generic brands’ multis.
  • Vous Vitamins: Created by two physicians, this brand’s online quiz asks the same questions they’d discuss with patients during an in-office visit in order to recommend vitamins that are medically sound and meet their individual needs.
  • By Locke Hughes @LockeVictoria

Because you’re worth it vitamins

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