Care/of Vitamins Review — Is Personalized Better? | BarBend
care/of is a vitamin delivery service that sends customers personalized packages of vitamins and supplements, based on their answers to a few simple questions about their goals, lifestyle, and values. Their goal is to simplify the process of getting your daily nutritional needs and make it more affordable than at the local grocery store (monthly subscriptions start at $20 and go up based on your particular mix). “What is different?” the brand asks, “honest guidance. best ingredients. personalized for you.”
so today, I’m reviewing care/of (sometimes referred to as “care/of”) to see if I can really feel that difference in your products. I decided to let them help take care of me for a month.
Reading: Care vitamins review
Here’s a closer look at my experiences with care/of, along with how it compares to other popular multivitamins I’ve tried.
care/of the ingredients
Because everyone’s vitamin mix is slightly different, I can’t tell which vitamins are and are not in their care or subscription. But it’s that same ability to personalize that makes it ideal for everyone from young moms, working millennials, women nearing retirement, and athletes alike.
First, I’ll explain the “know you” quiz, then I’ll tell you a little more about the particular vitamin I’m taking. Finally, I’ll share what other supplements care/of has available for their customizable package.
note: multivitamins should not be viewed as replacements for a healthy diet or medication. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning a new fitness, nutritional, and/or supplement routine. Individual vitamin and mineral needs will vary. the list below simply includes our favorite brands and should not be taken as medical advice.
[check out our roundup of the best multivitamins for women on the market here!]
care/of the questionnaire
the first question they ask is “what’s your name?” don’t lie on this part. Each of the daily vitamin packets says “hello [insert name here]” on them, and it would suck for your packet to say “hello, claire” if your name isn’t claire. (I told them my name was gabby – my vitamin pack and I should have a nickname.)
second question: when it comes to vitamins and supplements, are you: 1) informed (know more than the average person). 2. curious (you know a little but want to learn more). 3. skeptical (you’re still not convinced). answer this honestly, too. I’ve run the test multiple times to see what impact this answer has and didn’t notice a difference. my best guess is that this question is for internal purposes.
The rest of the quiz (very visual and full of emojis) takes about 5 minutes and touches on four categories: basics, goals, lifestyle and values.
Actually, it felt like speed dating, but in a sexy “talk to me about wellness” kind of way. Like, oh, you want to know exactly how my stress affects me (is it the deadline that keeps you up at night, or stress from exhaustion)? Do you want to know how many hours I stare at a computer screen and how my eyes feel? What if I am currently taking any medication for anxiety or depression?
note: for the last question, I answered “yes” to see what would happen, and they don’t ask follow-up questions. They are not asking this for tmi purposes. They ask why some supplements like itself, vitamin e, b vitamins, and vitamin k can interfere with common medications. That being said, whether you’re taking anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants, it’s best to speak with a trusted healthcare professional to determine which vitamins and supplements you need and which will interfere with your prescription medications, rather than relying on a questionnaire.
The most interesting thing, in my opinion, were the last two questions: for traditional oriental medicines like Ayurveda, are you: a believer, open, skeptical. And, if a new product with promising research available, you: want it first, learn more, stay away.
These questions are basically your way of deciding whether or not to recommend adaptogenic supplements in your pack. (icydk, adaptogens are a class of herbs and mushrooms that recent research shows may help boost your body’s resistance to things like stress, illness and fatigue are you the type of person who just wants to take something backed by years of really solid research or are you the type who is open to experimenting with things like herbs that have been used for centuries (but are not necessarily backed by research)? care/of wants to know.
The questionnaire also asks questions about specific diets/eating plans, allergies, and perceived sleep quality. In 5 minutes, this quiz asked more about me than my GP during my last hour-long appointment (or than my last tinder date during our 30-minute meeting).
my personal “made for gabby” mix
While care/of offers over 30 different supplements, which they can recommend for their personal packs based on your answers to the questionnaire, I highlight the ingredients in my particular care/of subscription and the potential benefits of each.
for more information, on the website, care/of provides more information on all the supplements they offer, both in easy-to-digest bullets (pun intended) and very detailed pages that include benefits. of that supplement, an explanation of its particular form, information on who is most at risk of deficiency, and information on dosage, ingredients, and possible allergens.
ashwagandha is all the rage right now thanks to its supposed stress-fighting properties. a study published in pharmaceuticals found that adaptogenic herbs (of which there are many: ashwagandha, rhodiola, maca root, lion’s mane, to name a few) have the potential to reduce stress, improve focus, increase stamina and combat fatigue. and that is definitely the main claim to fame of this shrub. a review published by the African Journal of Traditional, Contemporary and Alternative Medicines found that consuming ashwagandha can alter levels of cortisol (the stress hormone).
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Astaxanthin 6 mg
Astaxanthin is an antioxidant that is currently all the rage in the beauty world with its promise of a younger, more radiant complexion. A 2017 study published in the journal plosone showed that taking astaxanthin can reverse the effects of uv exposure and improve wrinkles. But beyond skin health, the care/de points to research showing that astaxanthin may be beneficial for brain health, lowering cholesterol, and improving energy production. (I suspect this was included in my daily pack because I indicated that I exercise 6 times a week on the questionnaire.)
When you’re stressed, your body’s natural magnesium store is depleted, which in turn can make you feel even more stressed, according to a study published in a Russian journal. A second study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine linked low magnesium intake with up to a 22% increased risk of developing depression. Beyond its link to mental well-being, magnesium may also be beneficial in improving sleep quality.
probiotic blend 5 billion active cultures
This was included in my package, because they said, “You told us about your intestinal problems. sorry to hear about it. many of us have intestinal problems and it can often be uncomfortable and difficult to talk about. which is pretty funny.
so why the probiotic? some research suggests that probiotics may be good for healthy digestion and overall gut health. and a study published in gastroenterology found that taking a probiotic altered ibs patients’ brain responses to negative emotional stimuli and symptoms of depression, suggesting that probiotics may improve mood.
Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb that, according to a review published in the journal bmc complement and alternative medicine, may be helpful in improving physical performance and relieving mental confusion. in fact, during the cold war, soviet scientists studied and found that the use of rhodiola increased the endurance of athletes and decreased their recovery time. I likely included this supplement in my package because I stated that I was interested in exercise recovery supplements.
vitamin d 1000 iu
Vitamin d is involved in almost everything we do, like building proteins and enzymes, boosting the immune system, and fighting inflammation. While it’s known as the “sunshine vitamin,” it’s unrealistic to rely on the sun as your primary source of vitamin D. There is a myth that we get vitamin d just by sunbathing, but what actually happens is that compounds in the skin react with the sun’s uvb rays to produce vitamin d, which means our skin actually has to be exposed to get the benefits. It’s worth mentioning that our careful use of sunscreen actually interferes with vitamin d production— spf 15 blocks up to 93% of uvb rays. Since it’s hard to get the right amount from food, you must get the rest of your daily needs through sun exposure (which is tricky in winter) and supplementation.
other ingredients include:
It’s also worth noting that each of the vitamin capsules contains some different ingredients and allergens. so in my daily pack, in addition to the supplements mentioned above, I also consumed the following ingredients: hypromellose (ashwagandha capsule), organic rice hull concentrate, organic rice extract, organix acacia, organic sunflower, virgin olive oil extra, astaxanthin softgel (made from gelatin, water, vegetable glycerin, haematococcus pluvialis extract, d-alpha tocopherols, microcrystalline cellulose, vegetable stearic acid, film-coated magnesium pill (hydroxypropyl, cellulose, glycerin, silica , organic tapioca maltodextrin, hypromellose, gellan gum, water, culture media, and beetroot juice color.
Although I appreciate that care/of is transparent about other ingredients (they are all listed in the brochure I received with my first subscription box), when you look at all the ingredients added together, there are a lot.
total possible package inclusions:
- vitamin b12
- b complex
- vitamin c
- vitamin d
- vitamin k2
- calcium plus
- milk thistle
- evening primrose
- saw palmetto
- probiotic blend
- yes. bouldarii
- fish oil
- vegetarian omega
- digestive enzymes
- brilliant trio
- pocket protector
- bowel exam
- extra batteries
- dream team
beware/of fast sticks
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If you live and breathe wellness and have had success with supplements in the past, you may want to consider adding care/of products to your mix. Looking like sugar sticks (you 1990s kids will know what I’m talking about), these sticks are meant to give you something…extra. Whether you’re trying to relax, recharge, or grab some zzz’s, care/of says, “quick sticks are the quick and tasty way to boost your health.”
care/benefits and efficacy
I’m a full-time health and fitness writer, which means I can tackle my latest work projects from the comfort of my home and my sweatpants. but for all its advantages, working from home and working for myself also means the stress of my workday seeps easily into my home. the last few months i had really been feeling the physical, emotional stress and mentally from a constant work-work-work-training mentality. I would wake up after eight hours of sleep completely exhausted. My joints hurt all the time. things as simple as asking for coffee or asking for “less cheese” on my omelette sent me into an anxiety spiral. I felt bad, as if my body was not in its usual balance.
so when i heard that care/of allows you to create a personalized vitamin pack based on the answers to your questions that include stress and exercise, i decided to give it a try. (Also, I had been following them on instagram for a few months now and was very excited for the opportunity to instagram my specialized “good morning gabby” pack).
after taking the test, i was very optimistic. the questions were so specific that I relied on my personal recommended mix. when I received my order (about ten days later) it was here about the packaging. The user experience is actually quite fun. (The only downside is that while cardboard and paper are recyclable, I wouldn’t say the packaging is particularly eco-friendly.)
but just because I liked the aesthetics of the box, the easy-to-read instructions, and the cute dispensary didn’t mean I’d suddenly start enjoying taking the vitamins. when i first took out my daily vitamin pack (which has a clear back), i immediately noticed how many pills it actually is. seven. seven pills ranging in size from a tick-tock (astaxanthin) to a mike & ike (the probiotic blend). I dumped the contents into my hand, and although I was a little bummed by the number of pills I had to swallow, I was pleased that the vitamins were completely odorless and tasteless (literally odorless and tasteless, which in my experience it’s incredibly rare from a supplement standpoint).
I will also say that I found the smaller pills to be swallowed more easily than the horse pills I have taken in the past.
When I got the dispensary in the mail, I put it on my nightstand, so the first time I looked at my pills, I took them before I went to bed around 10 PM. I ended up not being able to fall asleep until 1:00 AM, which is unlike me (it usually takes me less than 5 minutes to go to dreamland after hitting the pillow). I didn’t think much of it, blamed it on stress and took the pills before going to bed again the next night. again he was up tossing and turning and squirming like he just had 3 shots of espresso.
The next morning, I moved the dispenser from my nightstand to my desk, set a reminder alarm for 2:00 p.m. m. and decided to try taking the pills at noon. I chose 2:00 p.m. m. because that’s usually when I get up for a break and a mid-day snack. (If you are not an alarm person, you can also download the care/of app which will send you a reminder notification.) What struck me the most that third day is that I had no stomach ache from the pills and I felt the same rush of energy that I had felt the previous two nights.
some google searches suggest that the energy boost comes from vitamin d. however, the vitamins are not a pre-workout or a cup of coffee, so while some people will feel a difference, many won’t notice as big of a difference as I did.
Beyond this increase in energy, while I didn’t feel worse, I wouldn’t say I felt better than ever, or at least on a day-to-day basis. But 30 days later, I’m happy to say I feel less stressed. Maybe that’s because I started a gratitude journal a little over a month ago. maybe it’s because my workload has started to become more manageable. Or maybe it’s actually due to the stress-reducing properties of the combination of rhodiola, ashwagandha, and magnesium. Although I’m not sure exactly what to attribute this boost to, I’m happy about it.
I was also thrilled that I didn’t feel like I was flushing all the nutrients from my packet (aka my money) down the toilet. when we can’t absorb all the nutrients we’re ingesting, we end up peeing them out in what is normally bright yellow, stinky urine. the color or smell of my urine did not change at all, which suggests that I was not getting too high a dose of any of the ingredients I was ingesting.
Because care/of has such instagram-friendly packaging, it has quite a bit of an instagram presence, which allowed me to see how widespread the product has become just by looking at care/of’s tagged photos. it’s even being talked about on reddit and other forums where the health-conscious crowd is.
one potential downside to this product is that it is a subscription service. so if after a month you want to cancel 1) you have to remember to cancel or else you will get billed and shipped another 30 packages, and 2) you really have to call the company, you can’t just cancel it through an online portal.
although I haven’t decided whether or not I’m going to continue taking this product, I called customer service to see what the cancellation entailed, the person at head office didn’t ask any follow up questions as to *why* it’s possible want to cancel, so unsubscribing took less than 2 minutes.
If you’re going for care, you’ll probably spend $20 a month at least, but if you scroll down the care/product page that lists how much each supplement costs per month, it becomes clear how quickly those monthly prices add up.
My personal referrals totaled $47.00, which is $1.56 per day. however, there are three things worth noting here. Firstly, I don’t need to get every supplement the care recommends, I could have easily removed the probiotic blend from my pack and saved myself $8.00 per month, or took out vitamin d and saved $5.00. Second, if you take the questionnaire (during which you’ll enter your email address), but don’t immediately purchase what’s in your basket, care/of will email you a discount code. (personally, my delay saved me $9.40). cheers to delayed gratification.
Finally, I did some research and while $47.00 is a bit steep for a multivitamin per month, the average price for a 30 day supply of probiotics is $20.00. considering I got a probiotic and a vitamin mix for the price i think what i paid is fair.
I enjoyed this product and the user experience taking this product. My pack was made up of 6 different supplements (7 pills) that the care/of questionnaire assumed I was missing or could benefit from taking. even though i had to swallow 7 small to medium sized pills every day, the supplements did not upset my stomach and did not smell or taste of anything, which is a huge win in my opinion. Also, I actually felt a slight boost of energy and while my stress hasn’t completely disappeared, it’s certainly better than it was.
However, if you have a tendency to forget to cancel subscription services, have difficulty swallowing pills, or are very concerned about living a zero-waste life, this may not be the product for you.
but otherwise, I don’t see much of a downside to incorporating this vitamin into your wellness routine.
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