Nutrition

When It Comes to Your Vitamins, We Want You to Put Food First

5 min read

Essential Takeaways

  • At Ritual, we take a “Food First” approach: It’s important to aim to meet most of your nutrient needs through a healthy, well-varied diet, and then take a multivitamin to help fill gaps.
  • Dietary preferences, genetic considerations, and age can all have an impact on nutrient levels—which is where a quality multivitamin can come in handy. All in all, building better nutrition habits is always a good idea.

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need a multivitamin: We’d get all the nutrients we need through diet alone, every day. But we also know this can be a near-impossibility, thanks to a variety of factors ranging from genetic variations to dietary restrictions—basically, all the little things that make us unique.

That’s the driving force behind much of what we do here at Ritual HQ. It’s why our science team has combed through thousands of studies to better understand some of the common blind spots in our diets, and how our nutrient needs change throughout our lives. It’s why we formulated our multivitamins with the things that make you unique—your diet, genetic factors, and age—in mind. And it’s why we’re committed to helping you better understand, overall, what you’re putting into your body and why.

Taking your multivitamin is part of it, sure—but the first step is taking a look at what’s on your plate.

It’s all in the name of inspiring better habits, and a little more understanding around the impact of what we eat. One problem? We think that healthy eating has gotten a little overcomplicated: The science of what matters is often eclipsed by trends, myths and other noise. So let’s take some of that guesswork off your plate, shall we?

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Ritual’s Food First Philosophy

How’s this for a straightforward approach: Aim to meet most of your nutrient needs through the food you eat, and take a quality multivitamin to help fill gaps.

“We do take a food-first approach,” says Dr. Nima Alamdari, PhD, Ritual’s Chief Scientific Officer. “This is because we’re aligned with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans that promotes the consumption of a healthy eating pattern and accounts for all foods and beverages under an appropriate calorie level. Consistent with this, we believe that nutritional needs should be met primarily from nutrient-dense foods.”

Building a nutritional foundation starts with a closer look at your diet, but not in the way you might necessarily think. Instead of getting caught up in the pros and cons of different styles of eating, we think those details should ultimately be up to you—based on what helps you feel your best, of course. There are members of our team who enjoy a plant-based lifestyle, others who have to consider food allergies, and still others who eat a little bit of everything. But what they have in common is this: They aim for a varied, well-balanced diet rich in whole foods, because that’s the best way to get a spectrum of nutrients on your plate. “These foods contain essential vitamins and minerals, and also dietary fiber and other naturally occurring substances, that can have positive health effects,” says Dr. Nima.

“Variety is probably one of the most important parts to our diets,” adds Dr. Luke Bucci, PhD, CCN, CNS, Research & Technical Fellow at Ritual. “This is best practiced by eating foods of all colors all the time, and less white, processed foods.”

Of course, there are always other elements to consider: The difference between macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), for example, and the role of different nutrients in the body. These are really great things to understand, especially if you’re aiming to level up your nutrition habits. But it all starts with healthy variety on your plate.

Ritual's Food First Approach

How Multivitamins Lend Support

We wish that filling your plate with nutrient-rich foods would be enough. In reality, it can be really tricky to meet all your nutrient needs through diet alone, because there are many different variables that come into play. Along with many other resources, our science team relies on the NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey)—one of the world’s most comprehensive nutrition databases—to look at a representative sampling of what Americans eat versus what they actually need. And we’re constantly parsing through breaking research to stay up to date with the latest data. (1)

By the way…

Essential for Women was shown to increase vitamin D levels by 43%, compared to no change in a placebo group.*
Learn more

Vitamin D is a great example. The majority of Americans have trouble meeting their vitamin D levels: Factors like climate, pollution, and even just sunscreen use (which is good!) can make it tricky to synthesize enough vitamin D via sunlight, and diet isn’t always a reliable source either. Since vitamin D plays a supporting role in bone health and normal immune function, supplementing becomes really important.* (2)

Then there’s omega-3 DHA, a fatty acid we need to help support brain, heart, and eye health. If you’re a savvy vegan or vegetarian, you might know that some plant-based foods like walnuts, tofu, and flaxseed are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

By the way…

Essential for Women was shown to increase omega-3 levels by 41%, compared to no change in a placebo group.*
Learn more

That’s true—but they mostly provide a different fatty acid called ALA, which converts to DHA at a much lower rate. It’s important to aim for a mix of all three fatty acids, which is where a quality supplement can come in handy. We source our DHA from vegan-friendly microalgae.* (3)

Designed for Your Age

Our nutritional needs evolve over time. If you’re over 50 and postmenopausal, for example, you have slightly different needs than someone who’s 25, or someone who’s 35 and pregnant. Makes sense, right? Our current life stage is part of what makes us, us—and understanding how to best support yourself from a nutritional standpoint is always a good idea.

We know that these details can feel like a lot to consider when you’re figuring out the “right” way to eat. But from our POV, the right multivitamin should take the guesswork out of meeting your daily needs. It’s a lot less to think about—which means you can focus on enjoying the healthy foods you love. (Just remember to take your multivitamins!)

References:

  1. NHANES - National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Homepage. (2020, March 25). Retrieved from the CDC
  2. Office of Dietary Supplements - Vitamin D. (n.d.). Retrieved from the National Institutes of Health
  3. “Office of Dietary Supplements - Omega-3 Fatty Acids.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from National Institutes of Health

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Meet our experts

This article features advice from our science team.

Dr. Nima Alamdari PhD

Dr. Nima Alamdari, Ph.D, Ritual's Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Nima is Ritual's Chief Scientific Officer. He has a Ph.D in Physiology & Muscle Metabolism, and has spent his career studying the relationship between nutrition, exercise, and the human body.

Dr. Nima Alamdari PhD

Dr. Nima Alamdari, Ph.D, Ritual's Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Nima is Ritual's Chief Scientific Officer. He has a Ph.D in Physiology & Muscle Metabolism, and has spent his career studying the relationship between nutrition, exercise, and the human body.

Dr. Luke Bucci

Dr. Luke Bucci, Ph.D, CCN, CNS, Research and Technical Fellow

Dr. Luke is Ritual's Research and Technical Fellow, and our founding scientist. A seasoned nutritional biochemist who has authored multiple studies, he has spent his decades-long career studying the science of supplements and the innerworkings of nutrients in the body.

Dr. Luke Bucci

Dr. Luke Bucci, Ph.D, CCN, CNS, Research and Technical Fellow

Dr. Luke is Ritual's Research and Technical Fellow, and our founding scientist. A seasoned nutritional biochemist who has authored multiple studies, he has spent his decades-long career studying the science of supplements and the innerworkings of nutrients in the body.