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Care/of is a vitamin delivery service that sends customers personalized packs of vitamins and supplements, based on their answers to a few easy questions about your goals, lifestyle, and values. Their aim is to simplify the process of getting your daily nutritional needs and make it more affordable than the local grocery store (monthly subscriptions start at $20 and go up depending on your particular blend). “What’s different?” the brand asks, “Honest guidance. Better ingredients. Personalized for you.”
So today, I’m reviewing Care/of (sometimes referred to as “Take Care/of”) to see if I could really feel that difference in their products! I decided to the let-them-help-take-care-of-me thing for a month.
Here’s a closer look at my experiences with Care/of, along with how it compared to other popular multivitamins I’ve tried.
Ritual Essential Test
A subscription-based multivitamin with incredibly transparent ingredient sourcing, easy-to-take capsules, and a minty scent.
Because everyone’s vitamin mix is slightly different, I can’t say what vitamins are and are not in your Care/of subscription. But it’s that same customizability that makes it great for everyone from young moms, working millennials, women-headed towards retirement, and athletes alike.
So first, I’ll explain the “get to know you” quiz, then I’ll tell you a bit more about the particular vitamin I’m taking. Finally, I’ll share what other supplements Care/of has available for your personalizable packet.
Note: Multivitamins shouldn’t be seen as replacements for a healthy diet or medication. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning a new fitness, nutritional, and/or supplement routine. Individual needs for vitamins and minerals will vary. The list below simply includes our favorite brands and shouldn’t be taken as medical advice.
[Check out our rundown of the best women’s multivitamins on the market here!]
The Care/of Quiz
The first question they ask is, “What’s your name?” Don’t lie on this part. Each of the daily vitamin packets says “Hi [Insert Name Here]” on them, and it would suck to have your pack say “Hi Claire” if your name is not in fact Claire. (I told them my name was Gabby—my vitamin packet and I should be on a nickname basis.)
Second question: When it comes to vitamins and supplements, are you: 1) Informed (you know more than the average person). 2. Curious (You know a bit but want to learn more). 3. Skeptical (You’re not yet convinced). Answer this honestly, too. I took the quiz a few times to see what impact this answer has, and didn’t notice a difference. My best guess is that this question is for internal purposes.
The rest of the (super visual and emoji-packed) quiz takes about 5 minutes and touches on four categories: basics, goals, lifestyle, and values.
Truthfully, it felt like speed dating, but in a sexy “speak wellness to me” kind of way. Like oh, you want to know exactly how my stress affects me (is it deadline keeping you up at night stress or burnout stress)? Do you want to know how many hours I look at a computer screen and how it’s making my eyes feel? And if I’m currently taking any anti-anxiety or depression medicine?
Note: for that last question, I answered “yes” to see what would happen, and they don’t ask follow-up questions. They aren’t asking this for TMI purposes. They’re asking because some supplements like SAM-e, Vitamin E, B Vitamins, and Vitamin K may interfere with common medications. That said, whether you are taking anti-anxiety or antidepressant medicine, it’s best to talk with a trusted healthcare professional to determine which vitamins and supplements you need, and which will interfere with prescription medication, as opposed to relying on a quiz.
Most interesting, in my opinion, were the last two questions: For Traditional Eastern Medicines like Ayurveda, you are: A believer, open, skeptical. And, If a new product with promising research is available, you want it first, learn more, and stay away.
These questions are basically their way of figuring out whether or not to recommend adaptogenic supplements in your pack. (ICYDK, adaptogens are a class of herbs and mushrooms that, according to recent research may help boost your body’s resistance to things like stress, sickness, and fatigue. Are you the type of person who only wants to take something backed up by years of really strong research? Or are you the type who’s open to experimenting with things like herbs that have been used for centuries (but aren’t necessarily supported by research)? Care/of wants to know.
The quiz also asks questions about specific diets/eating plans, allergies, and perceived sleep quality. In 5 minutes, this quiz asked more about me than my general practitioner did during my last hour-long appointment (or than my last Tinder date did during our 30-minute meet-and-greet).
My “Made For Gabby” Personal Mix
While Care/of offers over 30 different supplements, which they may recommend for your personal packs depending on your answers to the quiz, I highlight the ingredients in my particular Care/of subscription and the potential benefits of each.
For more info, on the website, Care/of provides more information on all of the supplements they offer in both easy-to-digest (pun intended) bullet-points, and very in-depth one-pagers that include benefits of that supplement, an explainer on its particular form, info on who’s most at risk for a deficiency, and info on dosage, ingredients, and possible allergens.
Ashwagandha 600 mg
Ashwagandha is buzzy right now thanks to its purported stress-fighting properties. One study published in Pharmaceutical has found that adaptogenic herbs (of which there are many: ashwagandha, Rhodiola, maca root, and lion’s mane, to name a few) have the potential to reduce stress, improve attention, increase endurance, and fight fatigue. And that’s definitely this shrub’s main claim to fame. One review published by the African Journal of Traditional, Contemporary, and Alternative Medicines found that consuming ashwagandha may modify cortisol (the stress hormone) levels.
Astaxanthin 6 mg
Astaxanthin is an antioxidant that is currently buzzing in the beauty world with its promise of a more youthful, glowing complexion. A 2017 study published in the journal PloS one showed that taking astaxanthin can reverse the effects of UV exposure and improve wrinkling. But beyond skin health, Care/points to research that shows that astaxanthin may be beneficial for brain health, lowering cholesterol, and improving power output. (I suspect this was included in my daily pack because I indicated that I work out 6 times a week on the quiz.)
Magnesium 400 mg
When you’re stressed, your body’s natural magnesium store gets used up, which in turn can make you even more stressed out, according to a study published in a Russian journal. A second study published in the Journal of American Board of Family Medicine linked low magnesium intake with up to a 22-percent higher risk of developing depression. Beyond its link to mental well-being, magnesium may also be beneficial for improving sleep quality.
Probiotic Blend 5 Billion Active Cultures
This was included in my pack, because Care/said, “You told us about your bowel concerns. Sorry to hear about it. Many of us have bowel concerns, and it can often be both uncomfortable and difficult to talk about.” Which is pretty funny.
So why the probiotic? Some research suggests that probiotics may be good for healthy digestion and overall gut health. And one study published in Gastroenterology found that taking probiotics altered patients with IBS brain responses to negative emotional stimuli and symptoms of depression, which suggest that probiotics may be mood-boosting.
Rhodiola 250 mg
Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb that, according to one review published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, may be helpful in enhancing physical performance and alleviating brain fog. In fact, during the Cold War, Soviet scientists studied found that using Rhodiola boosted an athlete’s endurance and decreased their recovery time. Likely, Care/included this supplement in my packet due to the fact that I reported that I was interested in supplements for exercise recovery.
Vitamin D 1000 IU
Vitamin D is involved in almost everything we do like building proteins and enzymes, boosting the immune system, and fighting inflammation. While it’s known as the “sunshine vitamin”, relying on the sun on as your primary vitamin D source isn’t realistic. There’s a myth that we get vitamin D from simply basking in the sun, but what actually happens is that compounds in your skin react with the sun’s UVB rays to make vitamin D, which means our skin actually has to be exposed to reap the benefits. Worth mentioning, that our vigilant use of sunscreen actually interferes with vitamin D production— SPF 15 blocks up to 93% of UVB rays. Because it’s hard to get the right amount from food, you have to get the rest of your daily needs through sun exposure (which is tricky during the winter) and supplementation.
Other ingredients include:
It’s also worth noting that each of the vitamin capsules contains a few different ingredients and allergens. So in my daily packet, in addition to the supplements listed above, I also consumed the following other ingredients: hypromellose (ashwagandha capsule shell), organic rice hull concentrate, organic rice extract, organic gum arabic, organic sunflower, extra virgin olive oil, the astaxanthin soft gel (made of gelatin, water, vegetable glycerin, haematococcus Pluvialis extract, d-alpha tocopherols, microcrystalline cellulose, vegetable stearic acid, film coating in the magnesium pill (hydroxypropyl, cellulose, glycerine, silica, organic tapioca maltodextrin, hypromellose, gellan gum, water, culture media, and beet juice color.
While I appreciate Care/of’s transparency in regards to other ingredients (all are listed in the pamphlet I got with my first subscription box), when you look at all the added ingredients together, there’s a lot.
Total Possible Packet Inclusions:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin K2
- Calcium Plus
- Milk Thistle
- Evening Primrose
- Saw Palmetto
- Probiotic Blend
- S. Bouldarii
- Fish Oil
- Veggie Omega
- Digestive Enzymes
- Glow Trio
Care/of Quick Sticks
If you live and breathe wellness and have had success with supplements in the past, you may consider adding Care/of’s product “Quick Sticks” to your mix. These sticks, which look like sugar candy sticks (kids of the 1990s will know what I’m talking about) are meant to give you a little something….extra. Whether you are trying to chill out, power up, or catch some zzz’s, Care/of says, “Quick Sticks are the fast, tasty way to boost your health.”
- Pocket Protector
- Gut Check
- Extra Batteries
- Dream Team
Care/of Benefits and Effectiveness
I’m a full-time health and fitness writer, which means I get to tackle my latest work projects from the comfort of my own home and sweatpants. But for all their perk, working from home and working for myself also means my workday stress easily leaks over into my home. Last few months I’d really been feeling the physical, emotional, and mental stress of a constant work-work-work-workout mindset. I was waking up after eight hours of sleep completely exhausted. My joints hurt all the time. Things as simple as ordering coffee or asking for “less cheese” on my omelet sent me into a spiral of anxiety. I just felt off, like my body wasn’t at its usual equilibrium.
So when I heard that Care/of allows you to build a personalized vitamin pack based on answers to your questions that include stress and exercise, I decided to give it a whirl. (Plus, I’d been following them on Instagram for a few months, and was seriously excited for the opportunity to Instagram my “Good Morning Gabby” specialized pack).
After taking the quiz, I was really optimistic. The questions were so specific that I trusted the personal mix Care/recommended. When I got my order (about ten days later) I was here about the packaging. The user experience truly is quite fun. (The only downside, is that while the cardboard and paper are recyclable, I wouldn’t call the packaging particularly environmentally friendly).
But just because I liked the aesthetic of the box, the easy-to-read instructions, and the cute dispensary, didn’t mean I’d suddenly start enjoying the actual taking of the vitamins. When I took out my daily vitamin packet for the first time (which has a clear backside), I immediately noticed how many pills that actually are. Seven. Seven pills that ranged in size of a tic-tac (astaxanthin) to a Mike & Ike (the probiotic blend). I dumped the contents into my hand, and while I was a little disgruntled at just how much pill-swallowing I had to do, I was pleased that the vitamins didn’t have any smell or taste (literally no smell or taste, which in my experience is incredibly rare from a supplement standpoint).
I will also say that I found that the smaller pills went down easier than the horse pills I’ve taken in the past.
When I got the dispensary in the mail, I placed it on my night table, so the first time I took my pills, I took them before bed at around 10 pm. I ended up not being able to fall asleep until 1:00 am, which is unlike me (usually it takes me less than 5 minutes to go to dreamland after hitting the pillow). I didn’t think much of it, blamed the stress and took the pills before bed again the following night. Again, I was up tossing, turning, and twitching as I’d just chugged 3 shots of espresso.
The next morning, I moved the dispensary from my bedside table to my desk, set a 2:00 pm reminder alarm, and decided to try taking the pills mid-day. I chose 2:00 pm because that’s usually when I get up for a mid-day stretch break and snack. (If you’re not an alarm person, you can also download the Care/of the app which will send you a reminder notification). What stood out to me on that third day is that I didn’t get a stomach ache from the pills and I felt that same jolt of energy I felt the previous two nights.
Some Googling suggests energy jolt is from the Vitamin D. However, vitamins are not a pre-workout or a cup of coffee, so while some people will feel a difference, many won’t notice as big of a difference as I had.
Beyond this energy boost, while I didn’t feel worse, I also wouldn’t say I felt better than ever, or at least on a day-to-day basis. But 30 days later, I am thrilled to say I feel less stressed. Maybe it’s because I started a gratitude journal a little over a month ago. Maybe it’s because my workload has started to become more manageable. Or maybe it’s actually from the stress-reducing properties of the Rhodiola-ashwagandha-magnesium combo. While I’m not sure exactly what to credit this boost to, I’m happy about it.
I was also thrilled that I didn’t feel like I was flushing all the nutrients in my pack (aka my money) down the toilet. When we can’t absorb all the nutrients we’re ingesting, we end up peeing them out in what is typically bright-yellow, stinky pee. My pee color or odor did not change at all, which suggests that I wasn’t getting too high a dose of any of the ingredients I was ingesting.
Because Care/of has such Instagram-able packaging, it has quite the Instagram presence, which allowed me to see how widespread the product has become simply by looking at Care/of’s tagged photos. It’s even talked about on Reddit and other forums where the health-conscious flock.
A potential downfall of this product is that it is a subscription service. So if after one month you want to cancel it 1) you have to remember to cancel it or else you’ll get charged and sent another 30 packets, and 2) you actually have to call the company, you can’t just cancel it through an online portal.
While I haven’t decided if I’m going to continue taking this product or not, I called customer service to see what canceling entailed, the person from Care/of Headquarters didn’t ask any follow-up questions about *why* I might want to cancel, so canceling the subscription took less than 2 minutes.
If you’re going to get Care/of, you’re probably going to spend $20/month at a minimum, but if you scroll through the Care/of product page which lists out how much each supplement is per month it becomes clear how quickly those per-month prices add up.
My personal recommendations came to a total of $47.00, which is $1.56 per day. However, there are three things worth noting here. First, you are not required to get all of the supplements that Care/of recommends, I easily could have removed the probiotic blend from my pack and saved myself $8.00 a month, or taken out the Vitamin D and saved $5.00. Second, if you take the quiz (during which you’ll enter your email address), but don’t immediately purchase what’s in your basket, Care/of will email you a discount code. (Personally, my delay saved me $9.40). Cheers to delayed gratification.
Finally, I did a little research and while $47.00 is a little pricey for a multivitamin per month, the average price for a 30-day supply of probiotics is $20.00. Considering I got both a probiotic and a vitamin mix for the price, I think what I paid is fair.
I enjoyed this product and the user experience of taking this product. My pack was made up of 6 different supplements (7 pills) that Care/of’s quiz guessed I was either lacking or could benefit from taking. While I had to swallow 7 small to medium-sized pills every day, the supplements didn’t upset my stomach and didn’t smell or taste like anything, which in my opinion is a major win. Plus, I actually felt a slight energy boost and while my stress hasn’t disappeared completely, it’s certainly better than it was.
However, if you have a tendency to forget to cancel a subscription service, have a hard time swallowing pills, or are very concerned about living a waste-free life, this may not be the product for you.
But otherwise, I don’t see many drawbacks in incorporating this vitamin into your wellness routine.