Which are better?
The idea of personalized vitamins is not new, however advancements in the industry certainly are. For decades we have known the benefits of personalized nutrients, their specific role in promoting health and influencing certain areas of health within the body. We have also known about the significant individual impact of deficiency in single nutrients and the severe impact it can have on health. Long ago in the 1700’s James Lind discovered that scurvy (a severe Vitamin C deficiency) could be cured by ingesting citrus fruits, which we now know are a good source of Vitamin C. So, we have known for quite some time the importance of individual nutrients and used their individual functions and benefits to improve individual health. You could say that we have been personalizing our nutrient and vitamin intake for hundreds of years, although somewhat haphazardly without the acute knowledge of how to do this for ourselves.
Generic Vitamin Supplements
Generalized vitamins on the other hand are a fail-safe for nutritional deficiency. We can take multivitamin and mineral complexes as a way to safeguard against vitamin inadequacy and deficiency. Rather than pinpointing unique needs through testing, which until recently was hard to come by, expensive and mostly touted as unnecessary, we can simply take a generalized vitamin and mineral complex to ensure we are getting all we need.
Pro’s of Generalized Vitamins:
- Usually less expensive option
- Easy to take with just 1 bottle and one item
- Doesn’t clutter up your pantry
However, those few pros definitely don’t hold up well against a personalized vitamin approach. There are many pitfalls of generalized vitamins, especially if you are looking to optimize your health.
Combination supplements usually contain doses too low to work -- they cram 30 ingredients at trace amounts into a capsule at doses that will never work," says Dr. Stephanie Redmond, pharmacist, and co-founder of diabetesdoctor.com. "Generally, with a pack, you get the actual full vitamin and dose since usually a therapeutic dose fills up almost a whole capsule."
The personalized wellness space has grown exponentially over the last couple of decades. Even for something as simple as shampoo, here are shampoos for sensitive skin, oily hair, dry hair, and the list goes on and on, some with different additives, scents or colour protectants. As consumers we want to purchase something that is made for us, something that fits our unique profile. As much as people like to belong, they also like to stand out and be known for their differences. Two people may both be of a Latin background, for example, but one person is a lawyer who loves to sing karaoke on weekends and go skiing during the winter months, while the other is an avid book reader who refers to herself as a homebody who has never tried a winter sport in her life but can hold a conversation about historical books with the best in the World. These differences are what make us, US – and embracing these differences in not only personality but health requirements is essential to our self-care practices as much or even more so than a shampoo we choose.
Personalized vitamins are a window to optimizing health for oneself - it allows us to fill gaps in our nutrition based on either genetic, dietary or lifestyle factors.
Pro’s of Personalized Vitamins:
- No guesswork involved
- Tailored to your needsImprove individual health concerns or conditions
- Plug and play allows for complete control over what you take
There is no question for us, and almost all health professionals that a personalized approach to vitamins and micronutrients (ie custom vitamin packs) is best, however its not as simple as just walking into a store and buying them. First we must discern which vitamins we need, and this is where the work begins. Do we use blood work, urine, TMA, or symptomatology to determine our needs? Do we need the help of a professional? Read our blog post here on how to choose the right test for you.
Personalized vitamins help to ensure you are getting the right nutrients for you and your unique needs. Even the simplest of qualities can make a difference, such as age, sex and geographic location. For example an infant male from Brazil will have much different micronutrient needs than a 75 year old post-menopausal woman living in the arctic.
Dr. Mark Hyman, a functional medicine physician and author, says that certain data points can help customize a formula, but they aren't always necessary. "I've been using both blood, urine and hair laboratory testing to access nutrient levels over the last 30 years and clearly they have a role, however, many questionnaires can be effective in identifying deficiencies," Hyman says.
If you are looking to take the leap into personalized nutrition and micronutrients there are many companies and resources available to you now. We believe that understanding the testing methods and what they provide as well as their downfalls is an important part of deciding which approach to take.
Personalized Vitamins Conclusion
In summary, using generalized vitamins is a good place to start if you have never taken vitamins and minerals before and you are looking for a quick and simple way to improve your nutritional status. However, taking a personalized vitamin approach to your health and specifically micronutrient intake can be a giant leap forward in your nutritional status.