Will You Take Your Vitamins If They’re Pretty?

Nicola Fumo | January 4, 2017

If your vitamins look cool, will you be more likely to take them? That’s what Care/of, a new direct-to-consumer personalized vitamin service with exceptionally pretty packaging, is counting on. “Building healthy habits can be difficult — we saw a visual brand as a means to make that easier,” says Care/of CEO and co-founder Craig Elbert. “Aesthetics play a real role in what we enjoy doing and how we feel. If we create packaging that customers enjoy and are comfortable putting on their kitchen counter, they’ll be more likely to build the habit when seeing that cue in the morning.”

Making something boring, like vitamins, appealing and lifestyle-y follows the footprint set by Casper (mattresses), Away (luggage), Warby Parker (prescription glasses), Glossier (moisturizer) and Harry’s (shaving). Elbert is no stranger to sexing up a very blah necessity; prior to the vitamin venture, he led marketing at Bonobos. “We took a stagnant category (what could more boring than men’s khaki pants?) and made it delightful,” he explains, ultimately building the largest clothing company founded online in the U.S. “Research shows that the vitamin and supplements industry is one of the least trusted – even more so than cable and health insurance companies,” he says.

care-of-packaging

“Vitamins are an unregulated industry,” adds Stephanie Middleberg, registered dietician and founder of Middleberg Nutrition. “The FDA does not test [vitamins], nor does it require brands, manufactures or retailers to prove that the claims made — or what is even in the bottle — is actually what you’re taking. It’s a confusing industry and it’s up to you to do your own research,” she says, suggesting you talk to your doctor and check consumerlab.com, the only 100% independent provider of nutritional product test results.

Frustration in the vitamin aisle is what led Elbert to founding Care/of. “I knew I was vitamin D deficient, and my wife was pregnant and taking prenatal vitamins,” he recalls. “When we got to the vitamin aisle, it was crowded and overwhelming, and we didn’t know where to start,” Elbert says. “Today’s ‘one-size-fits-all’ multivitamin approach is outdated and oversimplified, having emerged from the need to optimize shelf space in a brick-and-mortar environment.” Middleberg argues that a multivitamin can be a good choice, especially for those without easy access to healthy foods, but she warns that, “daily supplements have a ton (many times way too many) of vitamins and minerals packed into a single dosage. While this may seem like you are getting everything you need quickly, it can also overwhelm your system.”

Care/of aims to be the opposite of the one-and-done multivitamin. Subscribers begin with a series of targeted lifestyle questions: What areas are you looking to work on or improve (digestion, memory, bone health, stress), where do you live, do you get sick a lot, how much do you drink, do you eat meat, do you care about GMOs and so on.

package-on-shelf

The recommendations are impressively targeted. Mine read: “Since you live in the northern half of the U.S., you may not be getting enough sun exposure to make the vitamin D your body needs. Since you don’t get a lot of dairy, you may not be getting as much calcium as you need as well.” Each recommended supplement comes with an explanation of why it was selected, what it does, how much research there is on effectiveness and where the Care/of version of the supplement comes from. Daily vitamin packs start at $20 per month, though cost varies based on what’s included (mine totaled $55 per month).

And then there’s the packaging. Each daily dosage has its own Instagram-friendly little pack (with your name on it, no less), dispensed from an attractive “tea-like” box. “We wanted the brand to be dynamic, vibrant and modern,” Elbert says. “We also wanted to consciously step away from easy wellness shorthand like sunrise beach yoga on a distant cliff.” Care/of sees your Athleta and raises you an Outdoor Voices.

The good looks worked on me. I’ve taken my vitamins every day since the package arrived. I’ve posted the pretty packaging on my Instagram Story more than once, as well as pics of the harmonious color coordination of my vitamins: the afternoon light passing through translucent orange fish oil, contrasted with the chalky white of “calcium plus” and speckled avocado green B-complex, punctuated by something oval and black called astaxanthin (for my cognitive health, apparently). “You’re obsessed with your vitamins,” my friend Marian wrote by DM.

The content is strong, but are they working? “The vast majority of the time, solving a vitamin deficiency won’t yield immediate results,” Middleberg tells me. “The answer may depend on WHY you’re taking a vitamin in the first place. If you have an iron or B12 deficiency, and were very tired, once you supplement for a few weeks chances are you will begin to feel more energetic,” she explains. Digestion, decreased pain and improved mood are also areas where people may be able to feel the impact of vitamins and supplements more quickly (you should also be able to see the results in doctor’s office blood work). “We also supplement to prevent heart disease, birth defects, decrease inflammation and increase brain function. These type of results are longer term and can’t necessarily be ‘felt,’” she adds.

Photos courtesy of Care/of.

  • Abby

    I’ve always been of the opinion that vitamins make for expensive pee, but I guess if you’re going to have expensive pee at least let the package be pretty?

    • Care/of

      Hey Abby! We’re glad you think the package is pretty. 🙂 But the efficacy of vitamins & supplements depends on your diet/lifestyle. If you’re low on certain nutrients, then your body will use those supplements (before you pee anything out!). Reach out if you want to chat with our team more – we’re at help@takecareof.com.

  • Jill

    I dunno. I take vitamins (a lot) for several reasons. And I take them daily. And I pack them when I travel. I don’t particularly care about the packaging. I care about my health. Don’t get me wrong – I’m an aesthete about many things. But this? Meh.

    • Care/of

      Hey Jill. We’re with you – what matters most is how the supplements impact your health! We’ve created formulations that are highly bioavailable, easy for your body to absorb, and gentle on the stomach. We’re also obsessive about ingredient quality. We sustainably source ingredients from around the globe and use clean production practices, so our final product is not tarnished by harsh chemicals. If you have more questions, we’d be happy to tell you more! Hit us up at help@takecareof.com.

  • snakehissken

    I have some documented deficiencies (according to my doctor and bloodwork) so I supplement with B12, D, and fish oil… but I really don’t care about the package. I just care that it contains what it claims to contain and nothing nasty like lead, and that the pill itself isn’t enormous.

    • Care/of

      Hi snakehissken. Thanks for checking out our site. So sorry to hear that you didn’t have a great experience with our questionnaire. We’d love to talk with you & learn more about your supplement needs – we’re always looking for ways to improve. If you have a moment, please reach out to us at help@takecareof.com. Appreciate it!

  • I like the idea of someone telling me what vitamins I need to take as I’m generally at a loss at what I should be having besides a multvitamin- and even if I should be having that.

    • Care/of

      Kayla, we’re glad to be able to help! It can definitely be hard to figure out what to take, and one of our goals is to make it a lot easier. If you have any questions as you go through the questionnaire, feel free to reach out to us at help@takecareof.com.

      • The friendly user interface suckered me in. Just ordered my first month’s supply. We’ll see how it goes!

        • Care/of

          Yaaas!

  • Allison

    But do they make gummie vitamins?? 😁

    • Care/of

      Hey Allison, we don’t at the moment! We stayed away from products with added sugar in our initial product line… but we’re always open to feedback. 🙂

  • AryaChic

    Can someone make broccoli look pretty?

    http://www.aryachic.com/chanel-brooch

  • doublecurl

    The Care/of presence on this comment thread makes this feel super advertorial, even though I know MR would disclose if it were.

    • Care/of

      Hey doublecurl, it’s Anu here from Care/of. We’re big fans of MR and loved their article. We’re here to help with any questions readers have about our products.

  • Julia

    Just wrapping up my first month of Care/of and couldn’t be happier with it. I’ve tried to take vitamins a gajillion times and never stick with it, but totally have with this. Already mass texted all my friends about it, but even with my ringing endorsement, I feel like the MR stamp of approval is going to go a long way with them.

    (Which brings to mind an idea for an article you guys should do on how to convince your friends to listen/take action when you all caps, group text them about a movie, band, product etc that you are passionately trying to force on them. Mine never seem to trust my suggestions no matter how many exclamation points I attribute them)

    • Care/of

      Love to hear that you’re better able to keep your supplement routine going now, Julia!

  • JayneES

    I like the concept and the website is lovely but why on earth would it recommend that I take a fish oil supplement when I indicated that I’m vegetarian?

    • Care/of

      Hey JayneES, thanks for taking the time to check out Care/of! I’m sorry about the confusion with regard to fish oil. We have some vegetarian customers who actually do want fish oil as a way to get omega-3s since fish isn’t part of their diet. However, other vegetarians want to strictly avoid it. We totally understand why this would not be a welcome recommendation for you, and we are working on a way to make our recommendation process smarter to avoid this issue. We’re also developing a supplement that will be a vegetarian source of omegas for our strict vegetarian & vegan customers. If you have any further questions/feedback to share, email us at help@takecareof.com – thank you!

  • MMR

    question for anyone that may know… should women take prenatal vitamins before trying to conceive? (assuming they want to eventually have children down the line but are still on bc)