From HQ

The Road to Our Clinical Trial

3 min read
Learn more about the journey to becoming clinically-backed, our study design, and the results.
Learn more about the journey to becoming clinically-backed, our study design, and the results.

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Huge milestone: Our gold standard clinical study is officially published. Get the full update in our Q&A with Ritual’s VP of Scientific Affairs, Dr. Mastaneh Sharafi, PhD, RD.

Since the day our founder set out to create a clean, traceable multivitamin that vitamin skeptics would feel confident taking, we’ve made every effort to ensure that our products meet and exceed a certain scientific standard. We assembled an in-house team of scientists with decades of experience between them: a Harvard-trained physiologist, a biochemist, and a registered dietitian at the helm. We built our own Scientific Advisory Board, comprised of a network of medical doctors, nutritionists, and scientists who are all interested in the success of our mission and help us stay ahead of any breaking research. And we continue to comb thousands upon thousands of journals and studies related to nutrition, formulation, and physiology, so that we’re never anything less than confident in our products. In other words, the decisions we make for our products are obsessively backed up by evidence.

But even so, conducting clinical trials with our products has always been a goal for Ritual—namely, because it’s a standard we’ve always wanted. And that goal began with Essential for Women 18+.

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A university-backed (now-published!) clinical trial allowed us to quantify the impact of Essential for Women 18+.

In other words, while we’ve always been able to demonstrate the efficacy of our product in other ways, a clinical trial provides an additional (and more specific) lens. “We believe that consumers care about how their products work,” says Nima Alamdari, PhD, Ritual's Chief Science Officer. “Putting a product through a clinical trial allows you to directly measure its physiological impact. As a science-based organization, we want to make sure our consumers are informed on all aspects of our products—from what ingredients and doses we use, to where we source them, and now, how they work (all together) in the body.”*

Being able to talk about the results of the Essential for Women 18+ clinical study is exciting on its own. (FWIW, a clinical study isn’t necessarily a market requirement for supplements—but it was important to our team to go above and beyond to quantify Essential for Women 18+ in this way.) Even better? That clinical study has officially been published in Frontiers in Nutrition—a leading, internationally recognized, peer-reviewed scientific journal. This is a huge milestone—having a study published in a peer-reviewed journal is one of the highest awards scientific research can achieve, since it must pass an extremely thorough vetting process by some of the world’s best scientists and scholars to be accepted—and it’s one that we’re proud to share with our community.

“It’s not always the norm to invest in a clinical program and partner with universities in our industry,” says Nima. “But our team is committed to putting numbers on our products. We want to quantify the impact a product has on the human body—we think that there’s real value there. I’m excited to be part of a movement towards smarter, more measured products that inform (and help educate) consumers towards better choices and products that really work.”

We followed the gold standard for study design.

For us, there was never any other option. It was important for us to conduct our clinical trial with an independent research partner, so we teamed up with Auburn University. We tracked the impact of Essential for Women 18+ over the course of 12 weeks on 94 women, ages 21 through 40.*

The study was placebo-controlled and double-blind—meaning that neither the scientists conducting the trial nor the participants knew if they were getting a placebo or Essential for Women 18+.*

“There’s a hierarchy in terms of the quality of evidence behind a product,” says Nima. “Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies are considered to be the gold standard design.”*

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Our findings were significant—and recognized by the scientific community.

Again, we’ve always stood behind our product. But it was thrilling for our team to see the impact of Essential for Women 18+ quantified in a clinical trial—and now, published in a scientific journal. We won’t spoil too much of our findings (you can check out the results here), but over 12 weeks, Essential for Women 18+ was shown to increase vitamin D3 and omega-3 DHA levels, significantly greater than placebo.*

As for what makes a published clinical study better than one that’s not published? Ritual’s VP of Scientific Affairs, Dr. Mastaneh Sharafi, PhD, RD, equates it to passing third-party quality certification. “Peer review serves as a way to uphold quality, helping to filter our poor research and protect the scientific knowledge base,” she explains. “But beyond being internationally renowned (Frontiers in Nutrition is one of the world’s most credible authorities on nutrition), what makes this journal an especially exciting one to be published in is the fact that its transparent philosophy aligns with our core values.” (Frontiers provides free access to its publications, which is far from the norm.)

And on that note… this is just the beginning.

Is it a big deal that we can now say “clinical-backed?” Absolutely—but we wouldn’t be sticking to our own obsessive standard if we stopped there. This is just the beginning of a clinical-backed future, and when appropriate, we aim to invest in clinical trials with our finished products.*

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Meet Our Experts

This article features advice from members of our Science Team.

Science Thumb — Mastaneh

Dr. Mastaneh Sharafi, PhD, RD, VP of Scientific Affairs

Dr. Mastaneh Sharafi has a PhD in Nutritional Sciences and is a Registered Dietitian. She received her training from Penn State University and University of Connecticut where she researched dietary patterns, chemosensory perception and community nutrition. Her dietetic work is focused on promoting healthy eating habits by translating the science of nutrition into practical information for the public.

Science Thumb — Mastaneh

Dr. Mastaneh Sharafi, PhD, RD, VP of Scientific Affairs

Dr. Mastaneh Sharafi has a PhD in Nutritional Sciences and is a Registered Dietitian. She received her training from Penn State University and University of Connecticut where she researched dietary patterns, chemosensory perception and community nutrition. Her dietetic work is focused on promoting healthy eating habits by translating the science of nutrition into practical information for the public.

Science Thumb — Nima

Dr. Nima Alamdari, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Nima Alamdari is Chief Scientific Officer at Ritual. He was previously faculty at Harvard University where he researched muscle metabolism in health and disease. He received a PhD in Muscle Physiology and a First Degree in Biochemistry from The University of Nottingham in the UK. He has authored many original articles in top international peer-reviewed journals and presented at world-leading international conferences.

Science Thumb — Nima

Dr. Nima Alamdari, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Nima Alamdari is Chief Scientific Officer at Ritual. He was previously faculty at Harvard University where he researched muscle metabolism in health and disease. He received a PhD in Muscle Physiology and a First Degree in Biochemistry from The University of Nottingham in the UK. He has authored many original articles in top international peer-reviewed journals and presented at world-leading international conferences.

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