What Supplements Should You Really Be Taking?

By Camille Styles
Care/of custom vitamin pack

It’s hard to know who to trust when it comes to the supplements aisle. We all have friends who swear by one thing or another, but (if you’re like me) you don’t want to throw money at vitamins that won’t actually provide benefits, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the seemingly endless options. However, I do believe that the right mix of readily absorbable supplements can do wonders for health and energy levels, so I recently tried out a personalized vitamin pack with Care/of and was so impressed with the outcome, I wanted to share it with you guys.

We sat down with Care/of‘s Anu Verma to learn more about specific vitamins and which ones we really need. “It makes sense to tailor your vitamin regimen to your diet and health needs,” says Anu. “Our team at Care/of brings together experts in nutrition with veterans of the vitamin industry who are extremely knowledgeable about supplement formulations. In addition, we work with a Scientific Advisory Board comprised of doctors and academics whose work centers on nutrition, so when we recommend products to people (through the quiz on our site), we bring in specialized knowledge from the team and a substantial body of research on vitamins and nutrition.” Read on to discover which vitamins you really should be taking (and how to avoid those expensive mistakes).

And be sure to look for our special reader discount below…

photographed by wynn myers

Are vitamins and supplements the same thing? If not, what’s the difference?

Anu: “Supplement” is a broader term, referring to anything you take that’s not considered food intended to supplement your diet. Vitamins are one kind of supplement, referring to the 13 compounds that science has revealed your body needs. Minerals, probiotics, and herbals are other kinds of supplements, each of which can serve a different purpose or help with certain health goals. 

What’s the most common mistake you see people making when it comes to vitamins?

Anu: It can be confusing to navigate the vitamin aisle, so we hear sometimes from people who end up just trying a multivitamin or grabbing a bottle of the first thing they see. It makes more sense to tailor your vitamin regimen to your diet and health needs. If you’re vegetarian or focused on better energy or better digestion, that can mean that you should be taking a certain set of vitamins and supplements. 

Many of us struggle with seasonal allergies in the fall. Are there any certain vitamins that help prevent sinus problems?

Anu: We do have products that boost your immunity. Elderberry is one — it’s an herbal product that we source from elderberry plants grown in Austria, and it’s been used to boost immunity for centuries in traditional medicine. 

How about low energy?

If you’re low on Vitamin B12, that could contribute to feeling low energy, so getting more B12 in your system can help. Alternatively, one of our favorite herbal products is an energy booster that has been used in traditional medicine, Rhodiola. Ours is sustainably farmed in Russia.

At Care/of, you’ve really thrown out the idea of a one-size-fits-all multivitamin. Why?

Anu: We all have such varied diets — from vegan to gluten-free to Paleo, and the list goes on and on — and differing lifestyles, so a one-size-fits-all multivitamin can definitely fall short. Chances are, you’re getting more than you need of certain nutrients, and less than you need of others. Developing a custom plan can be a better way to round out your nutrients, and help you get more targeted towards your health goals. 

So how do we find out which vitamins (and how much of them) will benefit us most?

Anu: When you take our quiz, you share a few details about your lifestyle, your health goals, your diet… and we do the rest. We put that information through an algorithm that pulls in clinical research, and we recommend a mix of vitamins and supplements that make sense for you. 

For years we’ve heard that some vitamins are total scams, while others can really benefit personal health. Is that true? How can we tell the difference?

Anu: The vitamin industry is regulated in a way that is effectively somewhat loose, so it is possible you’ll see products on the market that seem like a scam. Many products, though, can definitely benefit your health. Vitamins and minerals are absolutely essential to live, and many people get less than the amount of these nutrients recommended by the FDA. Ultimately, it’s very important you look for brands that are transparent with you about the research that supports their products, and up front with you about the quality of the ingredients they use.  

Where do Cafe/of vitamins come from, and why is that important?

Anu: It’s definitely important to ask about how our products are formulated and about the ingredients we use, and our goal is to create the best quality vitamins and supplements we can. We use ingredients sourced from around the world, from the places they are cultivated best, and we use clean production practices that minimize the use of harsh solvents. 

How long does it generally take to feel the effects of vitamins? And how do you measure those effects?

Anu: It depends. If you’re taking products for better digestion or improved energy, you might feel the effects relatively soon, within weeks. If you’re taking supplements like fish oil for long-term heart health, you might not feel differently in the short term. We’re trying to share as much information as we can about how you can expect to feel when you’re taking certain supplements, so you can tell when they’re working the way they’re supposed to. 

Does it matter what time of day you take vitamins?

Anu: In most cases, it doesn’t matter that much when you take your supplements as long as you take them at roughly the same time each day. We advise that people try to form a habit around it — make it a part of your breakfast or lunch routine, and you’re less likely to forget your supplements. It also helps to take them with a meal, as some supplements are better absorbed alongside foods. 

Where should we go to get started developing our own individual vitamin plans?

Anu: Go to takecareof.com and take our quiz to get started. It just takes a few minutes!

Try it with 2 weeks free (50% off) in your first month with the code CAMILLE