The $132B dietary and nutritional supplement market is large and growing. Despite what the various motivations are behind supplement purchasing, nutritional supplements are designed to offer nutrients like vitamins and minerals that one should be getting in their diets, but typically aren’t, at least in the amounts needed for optimal health. 
While it’s clear that people are budgeting a portion of their monthly salaries towards supplements, what’s not clear is whether they are buying supplements that are truly addressing their unique needs.
The future of health and longevity lies in personalization. With our advancements in technology — AI, remote testing and digital health, we can gain a better understanding of who we are at our core, how our lifestyle and environment impacts our health, and then design data-driven protocols that enable us to more effectively take care of ourselves and our loved ones.
The following are some of the risk factors associated with taking a “one-size-fits-all” approach to nutritional supplementation, and how the landscape is changing with the creation of the world’s first personalized vitamin dispenser that knows exactly what you need based on your health history and at-home lab tests.
We hope that by the end of this read, you feel empowered to re-examine your daily supplement regime from the perspective of your own unique needs.
This might be the most important point: Is the dose you’re taking or being told to take, in fact, the right dose for you? If you’ve been told to take 2000 units of vitamin D3 based on your geography and skin tone, does that dose change after you’ve spent 2 weeks in the sun? What happens after an intense period of winter hibernation? These are the questions you should be asking yourself and your health practitioner, especially if you take multivitamins.
Multivitamins often contain so-called standard doses of vitamins and minerals believed to be important for most individuals. But what if your diet is already enriched with whole foods, or what if you’re primarily eating a packaged food diet, that’s unknowingly fortified with nutrients? As the old saying goes, “too much of a good thing.”
While nutritional supplement use has helped people recover from symptoms associated with low nutrient levels, like low iron or anemia and vitamin B12 deficiency, overconsumption of nutrients is also possible and can be detrimental to your body in the short and long term.
The Iowa Women’s Health Study in 2011 concluded that several commonly used supplements may be associated with increased total mortality risk. Label inaccuracy, multivitamin use, online misguidance from the blogosphere and lack of regular testing to understand our targeted, individual vitamin and mineral needs are among the few contributors to this growing problem. 
Hear what Ruth Frechman, MS, RD and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association has to say:
“Just because most water-soluble vitamins are not stored by the body, you can’t assume that it is safe or effective to take more than the safe upper limit. In addition, you need to account for the vitamins and nutrients you get from the
food you eat. Certain water-soluble vitamins in excess can cause problems, such as too much vitamin B6 can cause nerve problems, too much niacin can cause flushing, and excess vitamin C can cause kidney stones. Excess folic acid may also mask a vitamin B12 deficiency, which is more common in people over age 50.
[Vitamins A, D, E, and K are the fat-soluble vitamins.] Too much vitamin A, D, or K can lead to increased levels that are unhealthy and can cause health consequences. Too much vitamin A can lead to birth defects, and too high levels of vitamin E may increase the risk of hemorrhaging. Excess vitamin K can lessen or reverse the effect of blood thinner medicines and prevent normal blood clotting.”
While the recommendation to keep dosing to below safe upper limits makes sense, often practitioners will prescribe or recommend a higher dose be used to target a deficiency or weakness in the body. While this might be the right approach if proper testing methods are used, we recommend close monitoring and daily health tracking to ensure no unusual symptoms emerge.
The way a supplement is formulated determines how well it is absorbed by your body.
Vitamins usually have multiple formulations, depending on the raw ingredients used. Costs always play a big role. While your body might have no problem absorbing a cheaper formulation, what may happen is that you might be missing an enzyme required to turn that ingredient into the usable active form in your body. In this case, the formulation used might not work, and you may need the already converted form of that vitamin to get the benefits.
Today we have technology to help us understand what our genetic predispositions or weaknesses are in certain metabolic pathways in the body, and we can also test for sufficient levels of key nutrients, like vitamins D, B12 and iron.
Taking multivitamins without truly understanding your body’s unique makeup and needs means that you could be wasting money taking something that’s not useful. Worse, you could be unknowingly causing a buildup, imbalance and leaving a deficiency unresolved.
So, where do you go from here?
PERSONALIZED VITAMIN DISPENSER
Personalization is the future of health. While today it might feel overwhelming to navigate our siloed healthcare system, soon you can expect far easier and safer ways to manage your daily health and ultimately, become the best version of you.
And, the future of technology is already becoming available to us from our comfort of our own home.
Meet Bowhead, your Smart Personalized Vitamin Dispenser that dispenses nutritional supplements based on your own unique health data, lab results, DNA test and goals.
Created by a team of medical doctors, certified health coaches and engineers, Bowhead along with the companion app will help you take only the supplements you need at any particular time, and ensure that you stay motivated and proactive about your wellbeing.
Your personalized supplements have zero allergens and zero fillers:
- Free from gluten, dairy & eggs
- No added colors, flavors or weird stuff
And, all your data is securely stored and only you as the user have access to it.