10 Reasons Why Personalized Vitamins Are More Important Than You May Think
How we feed ourselves and our families is an incredibly personal matter, yet many of the nutrition guidelines we rely on to help us stay healthy aren’t personalized at all. They’re based on averages of age and body mass and are only meant to help guide us to meet the bare minimum requirements for these vital nutrients. These guidelines provide a helpful starting point, however, they leave many of us still unsure of the specifics, like “what vitamins should I take?” or “which are the best supplements for me?”
A good customized vitamin routine should take everything into account, from your daily diet, lifestyle, sleep, medications, and food allergies, to whether or not you live in a polluted city or at latitudes above 37 degrees north where the sun may not shine year-round.1 Here are a few reasons why personalized supplements might just be the key to getting the most out of your daily vitamin routine.
1. We need vitamins and minerals to live and the data shows we aren’t consuming enough of them
Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients that are essential to our survival as humans. Having enough micronutrients is required for nearly all metabolic, developmental, and growth processes, not to mention having good health throughout our lives.2 And yet, as many as 9 out of every 10 Americans do not get enough of these nutrients from their food alone.3 Personalized supplements can help address specific nutrients that might be missing from your regular diet.
2. Our nutrient intake from food alone isn’t as good as we think
There are a lot of reasons we don’t get as many nutrients from our food as we think. Everything from farming and soil practices, to cost of and access to fresh foods versus canned and processed foods can affect how easily we meet those needs. Perhaps, one overarching reason could be that we don’t realize just how many fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein we need to eat every day to meet our daily nutrition needs.
Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) are the bare minimum requirements for the nutrients we need, and most Americans are falling short. About 75% of the US population doesn’t eat the recommended amount of fruit, and more than 80% don’t consume enough vegetables.4 This leads to a lot of “nutrient gaps” where people may not be deficient in certain essential nutrients, but they’re not getting nearly as much as they should be.
Why We’re Not Getting The Nutrients We Need
For example, adults need to consume at least five cups of fruit and vegetables every day to meet their vitamin C needs.5 Five cups, every day! That’s a lot of fruits and vegetables even for the most herbivorous among us. Personalized supplements can take the math out of your meals and help you feel more confident in your nutritional choices.
3. Your nutrient needs change based on diet
It’s hard enough to resist ordering pizza after a long day, let alone focus on diversifying our dark leafy greens with every meal. Many of us find the veggies we like, buy them in bulk, and call it a day.
But variety is the spice of life and nutrition. Even if you do manage to get in your daily five cups of fruits and veggies, you may still be missing out on other key nutrients such as your omega 3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids provide many health benefits throughout the body including heart, brain and eye health. The brain is almost 60% fat, and it relies on us to consume healthy fats such as omega 3s from fish and fish oil supplements to optimize our brain and mood. The minimum seafood recommendation to get enough of those beneficial omega-3s is a mere two servings of fatty fish per week—and yet, nearly all Americans don’t eat that much fish every week.
Certain diets may omit or restrict entire food groups, which can limit your intake of key nutrients. For example, the paleo diet cuts out dairy, so you may need to get your calcium and vitamin D from other sources. The ketogenic diet cuts out carbs, so you may miss out on the robust amounts of vitamin C found in fruits. Food allergies or sensitivities can also make it harder to get all the nutrients you need from your diet. Personalized dietary supplements are meant to help fill that “gap” between the nutrients we get in our food and the ones we don’t.
4. Your nutrient needs also change based on location
Where you live and work can also affect your nutritional needs. Ten to fifteen minutes in the sun a few times a week should provide us with enough vitamin D, but that’s not always possible. People who live at latitudes above 37 degrees north in the US are at a relatively higher risk of vitamin D deficiency during every month of the year except the summer months.1 Even if you spend a lot of time in the sunshine—pollution, clothing, and sunscreen all block UV rays.1 While blocking UV rays is usually considered a good thing (and it is), we need UVB rays to synthesize vitamin D in our skin. Altogether, these elements can affect how much vitamin D you’re getting from all that time outdoors.
5. Nutrient gaps can change with the seasons
Apart from the clouds and weaker sunlight found in winter that may lead to lower vitamin D levels, there are other factors to consider as the seasons change. For instance, the lure of warm comfort foods in winter may make it easier to forget about eating fresh fruits and veggies. If you notice you’re eating fewer fruits and vegetables in the winter, you may want to pay special attention to which nutrients are found in those foods and ask yourself if you’re getting enough of them. Personalized supplements can help ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need through every season of the year.
6. Workout routines can benefit from personalized supplements too
Muscle function and performance rely heavily on two key nutrients: vitamin D and magnesium. According to the latest data, however, Americans aren’t getting nearly enough of these nutrients either. Nearly 45% of all Americans don’t meet the recommended intakes for magnesium, and 90% of Americans don’t get enough vitamin D from their diets.6, 7 Vitamin D plays so many important roles in the body, and the gap is so large, that vitamin D was deemed a “nutrient of public health concern.”7 Personalized supplements can be tailored to your workout routine to help you get the nutrients you need and to stay at the top of your game.
7. Nutrient needs change based on gender and life stage
RDAs are made with life stages and genders in mind, but we don’t always know what those differences are. For example, as women go through different life stages, their nutrient needs can increase. It’s recommended that women take folic acid supplements while pregnant or during their reproductive years from their 20s through their forties. Women are also at a greater risk of vitamin deficiencies overall during both their reproductive years as well as pregnancy.5, 8 Whereas both men and women have higher calcium needs as they age, but those needs increase at different ages.
8. Your nutrient needs can change based on your health conditions
RDAs are made with healthy people in mind, but if you’re already dealing with a health issue it can make good nutrition even more challenging. Certain health conditions may increase nutrient needs, affect appetite, make it more difficult to eat or require medications that may affect how well your body absorbs the nutrients from the food you do eat.
For example, certain medications affect how well vitamin B12 is absorbed into the body.5 Depending on your cardiovascular health, you may have varying needs of omega 3 fatty acids as well (specifically EPA / DHA). Personalized supplements can help take your health conditions into account and recommend the supplements that are specific to your needs.
9. Your nutrient needs change with age
Whether you’re shopping for your mom, grandpa, or child—there seems to be a multivitamin for everyone in the family. That’s because nutrient needs vary widely by age. When we’re younger, we may need higher quantities of key developmental nutrients than we need as a healthy adult. When we’re older we may need additional support as our body changes and starts to be somewhat less efficient at absorbing certain nutrients. If you think about it that way, multivitamins for kids versus those for older adults are somewhat personalized already!
10. We already know that multivitamins can have a positive impact on our health
It’s been shown that multivitamin supplementation is associated with fewer nutrient gaps for key vitamins and minerals.2 But this isn’t true for every basic multivitamin. For example, many multivitamins don’t provide enough key minerals such as calcium or magnesium, so you may need to supplement those separately.5 Diet and lifestyle can also affect which additional supplements you’ll need. So even if you’re taking a multivitamin for your age and gender—you may still not be getting the right amounts of the key nutrients you need.
Personalized supplements are here to help
There are so many factors to consider when it comes to whether or not we’re getting all the nutrients we need from our food alone: our diets, age, gender, health conditions, life stage, and geographical location. It’s a lot to think about each day while prepping and cooking meals. Personalized vitamins and supplements can help fill gaps in your diet that are unique to your lifestyle and habits. So that the next time you indulge in a much-needed pizza after a long day, you can rest assured you’re still getting the nutritional support you need.
Take our quiz and find out which vitamins and supplements best support your lifestyle and nutritional needs.
This information is only for educational purposes and is not medical advice or intended as a recommendation of any specific products. Consult your health care provider for more information.
- Harvard Medical School. “Time for more vitamin D.” 2008. Harvard Health Publishing. Accessed on: March 31, 2020. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/time-for-more-vitamin-d
- Blumberg, JB et al. Impact of frequency of multi-vitamin/multi-mineral supplement intake on nutritional adequacy and nutrient deficiencies in U.S. adults. Nutrients. 2017; 9 (8): 1–8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28792457
- Wallace, T et al. Multivitamin/mineral supplement contribution to micronutrient intakes in the United States. 2007–2010. J Am Coll Nutr. 2014; 33 (2): 94–102. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24724766
- Oregon State University. “Micronutrient Inadequacies in the US Population: an Overview.”2018. Linus Pauling Institute, Micronutrient Information Center. Accessed on: March 31, 2020. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/micronutrient-inadequacies/overview
- Oregon State University. “Micronutrient Inadequacies in the US Population: the Remedy.”2018. Linus Pauling Institute, Micronutrient Information Center. Accessed on: March 31, 2020. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/micronutrient-inadequacies/remedy
- Fulgoni VL, 3rd et al. Foods, fortificants, and supplements: Where do Americans get their nutrients? J Nutr. 2011; 141 (10): 1847–1854 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21865568
- S. Department of Health and Human Services. “2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” 2015 8th ed. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Accessed on: March 31, 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21865568
- Bird, J et al. Risk of Deficiency in Multiple Concurrent Micronutrients in Children and Adults in the United States. 2017, 9, 655. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28672791