The Hits

The Making of Essential for Women

5 min read

When our founder, Kat, decided to make a better multivitamin, a lot of people in the supplement industry told her it was impossible to create a product that would meet her standards for transparency, safety, and quality. Thankfully, she didn’t listen to them. Instead, she found Luke, our VP of Research and Development, and together they developed Essential for Women, our revolutionary reinvention of the multivitamin. Combining Kat’s vision with Luke’s 33 years of scientific expertise, the team created a product development process that we’re proud to call our own. So how exactly did we build Essential for Women? Let’s break it down.

We identified the nutrients that you need

Typical multivitamins are packed with a lot of nutrients you don’t need: these nutrients are the ones we found women already get enough of from food. Those multivitamins also contained a lot of questionable fillers that you don’t want. This is why Kat decided to create her own vitamin. Needless to say, it was important to us to raise the current standards and figure out what women really need in a multi.

Dr. Luke and the rest of our team combed through over 10,000 scientific studies, deeply evaluating the research and leveraging the totality of the evidence to figure out which nutrients women aren’t getting enough of in their diets, and which of those nutrients are essential to a woman’s health. We mostly focused on human studies, which tell us at what form each nutrient is most active and how much of it we should get on a daily basis.

When evaluating each nutrient, we applied five filters:

  1. Intake: How much of each nutrient does the average woman get from food?
  2. Status: How much of each nutrient is naturally present in her body?
  3. Function: We looked at how each nutrient functions inside the body and whether it needs help from other nutrients to work best.
  4. Accessibility: We considered different diets (hi, vegans!), lifestyles, and the common gaps that traditional nutrition guidelines don’t account for.
  5. Compatibility: We chose the same nutrient forms as in our cells and healthy foods

After all that, we narrowed in on a simple conclusion: 90% of American women aren’t getting enough of just nine essential nutrients from food alone. Rather than conforming to the Daily Value dosage recommendations that most companies use, we carefully calculated the right amount of every nutrient so that our vitamin fills the gaps but doesn’t load you up with unnecessarily high dosages.

We searched the globe for every ingredient in its best form.

Nutrients come in many different forms, and the best forms are always the ones that match what’s already in your cells or what you find in healthy food. These types require fewer conversions inside the body, which means they’re easier for your body to absorb and use right away. A good example of this is synthetic folic acid (used in many multivitamins) versus 6S-5-Methyltetrahydrofolate, the form of folate we use. Many women (some stats say up to 40%) have a gene variation that makes it hard for their bodies to fully process folic acid, which can lead to folate deficiencies. We use a form that, regardless of genes, is more easily utilized by your body’s cell functions.

You’ll hear a lot of companies using the claim “clean.” When developing Ritual, we knew we had to clean up the definition of “clean” itself and redefine it on our own terms.

Once we found the right form of each nutrient, we did our due diligence to get to know our suppliers. We grilled them on the safety, potency, and source of their nutrient. For example, our vegan vitamin D3 is made from lichen. We weren’t satisfied with just that information, so we asked for exact details on the species of lichens used, where and how they’re grown and harvested, the supplier’s testing procedures, and what materials are used to extract and purify the D3. It was important for us to know the exact contents of our vitamin, and have answers ready for any of the questions you might ask.

But in order to know exactly what’s in our finished capsules, we knew we had go above and beyond the standard of just one test. Even though our manufacturer, Capsugel, tests all of the incoming ingredients, we added another degree of testing so that we can confidently say “we’re sure.” We test every batch repeatedly by sending the product to third party testing labs for independent verification. You may think that we're not the easiest clients for our suppliers and manufacturers to work with, but most of them say, “There’s the way we do things… and then there is the way we do things for Ritual." Because of our mission to make a vitamin that skeptics, doctors, and scientists can feel good taking, we attract suppliers and manufacturers who want to raise the bar too.

We invented our own delivery system to create one revolutionary vitamin.

Many multivitamins are missing some key nutrients that are preferably delivered in oil form, like omega-3 fatty acids. That means you typically have to take multiple different pills to get all the nutrients you need for one day. We wanted to squeeze everything you need into the same capsule. But in order to keep all our cell-specific nutrients as fresh and as potent as possible, we had to figure out a way to keep the oily nutrients separate from the dry nutrients. Our solve: the beadlet-in-oil technology that gives Essential for Women that cool snowglobe look. We use a clean, non-soy plant protein to coat our beadlets. It sounds simple, but this is actually pretty revolutionary technology for a multivitamin.

After we figured out the beadlet-in-oil delivery, we had to choose a capsule. We picked a delayed-release capsule that is stomach acid-resistant and vegan friendly. Not only does this help facilitate nutrient absorption, it also cuts down on nausea that a lot of women experience with most multivitamins. We selected a small, size-0 capsule because many women find it hard to swallow large pills. That’s why you need to take two Essential for Women capsules at the same time per day instead of just one.