A letter about the new personalized supplement industry by Rootine’s Head of Business Development, Tye Jensen.
I hope you and your family are well during the uncertainty experienced in 2020 and into 2021. Now, more than ever, ensuring our core health is vitally important. With the personalized sector of the supplement industry becoming mainstream, I'd like to quickly discuss your new options and what I feel is important to know so that you can make decisions to best support your health.
Do you even need a personalized vitamin?
In short, yes. Two things are abundantly clear:
- Most people do not get enough nutrients from their diet and even most “healthy diets” lack critical nutrients
- Generic, “one-size-fits-all” multivitamins can fail to precisely meet your unique needs
I believe in a “food first” approach and that you should always strive to eat a healthful diet. Supplements are inherently designed to be supplemental and will augment a proper diet but will never be able to fill the nutrient void of a poor diet.
Supplemental nutrients can be incredibly powerful, but only when the correct nutrients - at the correct doses - are provided. Throwing a kitchen sink of nutrients at random doses into a person’s body is rarely effective.
Targeted supplementation of key nutrients will benefit most people, so let’s look at the available options in the emerging market of personalized supplements. I will compare and contract Rootine against the competition.
Rootine vs. the big players in the “personalized” multivitamin space:
The first companies in this space are what we call “Lifestyle Quiz Companies” because they customize nutrient packs based solely on a lifestyle quiz. There are a few inadequacies with this approach:
#1: Without context, a lifestyle assessment can result in misleading nutrient recommendations. Without the context from DNA data, this “lifestyle-only” approach tends to lack information about how your body is absorbing, distributing, metabolizing, and excreting nutrients. This is the data that matters most.
This metabolic data is essential which is why Rootine built it’s algorithm around DNA data first, with lifestyle analysis providing additional context but we made sure that it is not overly represented.
#2: These brands tend to not have the capability to customize doses for each customer. Instead, mass-manufactured single-dose nutrient pills are used. This is an inexpensive and efficient way to operate a business but largely fails to provide the customer with the precise nutrient doses that they need. If you as the customer were to answer a question one way, you get 25 mcg of vitamin D, for example. If you were to answer differently, you would get 0 mcg of vitamin D. There is very little personalization capacity. Since we all have an ideal range for each nutrient, consistently overshooting or undershooting this “sweet spot” is not beneficial. Over time, this intake discrepancy can lead to a nutrient deficiency if the dose is too low or an adverse accumulation of a nutrient (especially fat-soluble nutrients) if the dose is too high.
Rootine’s microbead technology and hyper-personalized approach provides precision doses for every nutrient to the mcg or mg. You get the exact amount your body needs, nothing more - nothing less.
Rootine vs. the niche players in the space:
As the science became clearer that each person has inherent biological needs (beyond lifestyle) for different nutrients at different doses, other companies began to fill this void left by the “lifestyle-only” brands. A handful of companies began to offer recommendations based on a DNA test.
I have respect for these companies because these biometric data sets are far more powerful than a simple lifestyle quiz and developing a model to incorporate this data and partner with a laboratory is a far more complex route. In short, they did not take the easy way out. That said, similar issues present themselves with these methods:
#1: These brands use the same “one dose, one pill” approach as the lifestyle quiz companies and do not offer custom nutrient dosing. To truly optimize nutritional outcomes, you need a personalized dose for every nutrient provided.
As mentioned, Rootine can tune your formula to extreme detail through our slow-release microbead technology, designed for optimal absorption and blood level maintenance.
There is much more to discuss regarding this rapidly emerging sector of personalized nutritional supplements, which is largely overshadowed by many of the same issues of the supplement industry. It’s important to protect yourself and your wallet from poor manufacturing standards and the use of untested, unproven nutrients. As genetic testing becomes commonplace, many brands are starting to offer DNA tests to guide nutrient recommendations. Be sure that these brands are making their recommendations based on genetic variants backed by a body of literature supporting their nutrient interaction and are not using variants with little to no scientific basis. This is a common issue and one reason genetic tests get a bad rap. There are millions of genetic variants, most of which have zero impact on nutrient requirements. Also, be sure that you are comfortable with what these companies are doing with your biometric data, most have a lucrative side-business of selling your personal data.
Rootine provides EFSA-described nutrients (the most strict governing body on nutrient claims) with proven benefit in humans, tests for genetic variants with medical-grade bar of proof backing their impact on nutrient needs, and never sells or distributes your genetic data. All test analysis and custom manufacturing is completed in our medical-grade genetics laboratory with ISO 9001, 15189, and 22000 certifications and follows all FDA cGMP.
I hope it provides you valuable insight into the industry. When buying a health product, make sure you’re buying from a company who is rooted in science, not just experts in marketing.