Here’s what you need to know before you start taking vitamins and supplements

Everyone on Instagram is taking like, fourteen vitamins a day, but are all of those pills really necessary?

The best way to get all the nutrients your body needs to function properly—including healthy fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and minerals—is through a balanced diet. But sometimes life gets in the way of perfect eating habits. The easiest and most effective supplement to incorporate into your diet is a diverse multivitamin.

Dietary supplements include such ingredients as vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, and enzymes. Dietary supplements can be found in forms such as tablets, capsules, softgels, gelcaps, powders, and liquids.

@joonleecomedyJust a friendly reminder to take ur Vitamins ☺️ Which one are you?? #fyp #vitamins #pills♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod

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I sat down with two female founders of supplement brands that hold transparency as one of their core brand values to discuss how to choose the right vitamin and why it’s important. Before you start popping pills left and right, keep these six tips in mind.

1. Understand your reason for taking supplements.

“Stress, environmental factors, and more can impact your nutrient intake, which is why we believe supplements are a great way to compliment your diet and provide energy throughout the day,” says Angie Tebbe, co-founder, and CEO of Rae, a wellness brand offering nourishing vegan supplements that support well-being from within. Angie’s vision is to make well-being attainable for all.

Ritual Vitamins launched in 2016, and was founded by CEO Katerina Schneider, who created the vitamin while searching for a clean, science-backed prenatal vitamin with trustworthy ingredients she could trace.

“When I started Ritual five years ago, I was pregnant with my first daughter, Tali, and knew I needed to take a prenatal multivitamin. I couldn’t find one that I trusted. Many multivitamins that were recommended to me contained questionable ingredients and excess nutrients that many of us get enough of from our daily diet,” Katerina said.

2. Talk to your doctor.

The most important step is to speak with your doctor and get insight on which levels and vitamins you might be lacking. Daily multivitamins are designed to help fill nutrient gaps commonly found in people’s daily diets, but for specific questions, Katerina and Angie both recommend having a conversation with your physician. Consumers should always talk to their healthcare providers before starting any new supplements for guidance on what may work best.

3. Address the gaps in your diet. 

“No matter how healthy you eat or what kind of diet you follow, it can be difficult to get enough of some key nutrients it needs from food, all the time. Every diet can have gaps – whether you’re vegan like me, or paleo, keto or eat everything. And there are factors outside the diet that can play a role, like genetic variations, age, and current life stage,” said Katerina.

“Take Vitamin C for example. Many of us consume enough Vitamin C through the foods we eat, so you may not need it in a multivitamin. As long as you’re eating a fair amount of fresh fruits and veggies, chances are you’re getting your fill of vitamin C and then some. The National Institute of Health recommends that adult women aim for 75 mg a day. For reference, the food equivalent of 75 mg is one medium orange, one cup of broccoli (78mg) or ½ cup of raw bell pepper (95mg).”

Katerina used Folate as a counterexample. She said that up to 1/3 of people have a genetic variation that makes it difficult to efficiently utilize certain forms of Folate. Ritual opted to include Methylated Folate, a bioavailable form that all people can feel confident taking to support their Folate nutrient needs.

4. Prioritize what matters to you in a vitamin.

According to the FDA, many supplements contain active ingredients that have strong biological effects in the body, and combining supplements can lead to harmful consequences. This is why talking to your doctor is so important before you start taking any vitamin or supplement.

But generally, most healthy adults will benefit from the addition of a multivitamin to their diet, and the companies that have created these vitamins and supplements are heavily backed by science and experts to deliver the most effective nutritional support for a healthy body.

Personally, I prioritize clean and trustworthy ingredients that can be traced back to their pure and whole form. Some multivitamins can contain harmful synthetic filler ingredients, so it’s important to pay close attention to the labels. It’s common to be skeptical about trusting multivitamins and to wonder how a general supplement will effectively cater to individual needs.

“Many of our ingredients have had studies and clinical trials, and some ingredients have been around for thousands of years and have anecdotal information about their effects,” says Angie.

Rae has created a universe of vegan supplements to give women the ability to self-select what’s most important to them, as everybody is unique. The brand is known for its extensive line of varied supplement products, from a daily multivitamin and pre/probiotic, to energy and de-stress capsules.

“Consider supplements that focus on delivering high-quality nutrients through key ingredients,” says Angie. Their supplements are vegan, non-GMO, free of gluten and added sugar, with no harmful fillers, colorants, or preservatives.

5. When your body has all the nutrients it needs, your skin will show it. 

All of Rae’s products are ingestible – whether in capsule, liquid, or powder form. What’s inside your body contributes directly to the outside, and supplements have been discovered to have powerful effects on the skin. That active ingredient serum or cream can only do so much.

“Your skin is a powerful protective barrier that often reflects the state of your inner health. Our supplements support your skin to stay healthy, strong, and conditioned to support your glow from the inside out,” says Angie.

6. Once you start taking supplements, maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Supplements aren’t a solution, like medicine. They’re more like extra support. It is important to never neglect other aspects of your nutritional health and diet just because you started taking a vitamin supplement.

Ritual stands by a “food-first” approach, actually recommending that customers and consumers focus on their diet first, rather than heavily relying on the vitamin.

“We believe less really is more, and our food-first approach guides this. Taking a multivitamin can be beneficial for supporting foundational health and that can look different for each person. Some people feel a difference, some don’t, and that’s ok. It’s what’s happening on the inside that counts,” says Katerina.

After extensive research and conversations with the vitamin experts, the consensus comes down to this—the first step before you begin your journey with supplements is to sit down with your doctor to discuss individual needs. From there, always be extra conscious to look at ingredients, and potential side effects of supplements you begin taking, and it is recommended to choose ones with clean and traceable ingredients.

Lastly, vitamins and supplements are only a complement to a healthy and balanced lifestyle. They can only fill in the gaps. So it is extremely important to always remember to nourish your body with a balanced diet, and beneficial lifestyle practices to keep you healthy mentally, physically, and emotionally.