A Beginner's Guide to Vitamins and Supplements

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All you need to know about the basics of vitamins, probiotics, and supplements for starters

For most of us, the earliest memory we have of taking vitamins is a fruit-flavored gummy vitamin in the shape of a Flintstone character. Most Americans have continued that tradition into adulthood, especially in the past few years. The sale of herbal supplements has continuously been on the rise. Americans are spending billions of dollars per year on multivitamins, causing a phenomenon that has even earned the name “Vitamina.” This influx of discourse may even bring up the question of whether or not we even need vitamins. The answer, in short, is that we do.

For beginners and those who would like to consider vitamins, it doesn’t have to be complicated. I got in touch with Dr. Sonia Patel, Chief Pharmacist of Capsule, an online pharmacy based in New York City. “Everyone needs vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients for normal cell function, growth, and development. Ideally, we’d get them all through food. But that’s not always possible, so supplements can be an excellent way to fill in the gaps and in some cases, give us an extra boost,” Dr. Patel suggested.


Start With A Multivitamin

While vitamins may be having a “moment,” they also have been essential parts of keeping a healthy life. According to Dr. Patel, 92% of Americans are deficient in at least one nutrient. The easiest way to get started is by taking a high-quality multivitamin. It will help you make sure that all your bases are being covered. Dr. Patel adds, “While each brand may have a little more of something or less of another, they’re all built on the same dietary guidelines.”

A popular pick for the women of Passerbuys is Ritual Multivitamins as recommended by Nicole Steriovski, Eva Goicochea, and Clemence Poles. Mimi Packer and Dana Bodourov suggest Garden of Life Multivitamin Raw One for Women, and Angie Venezia uses Care Of, a personalized daily vitamin service.




Other Supplements for Women To Consider

While not everything can be covered in a multivitamin, there are nutrients, especially for women, that are important to consider. Omega 3 Fatty Acids are popular for heart and brain health, often found in seafood and grass-fed meats, and Coenzyme Q10 provides energy in cells and has anti-aging effects, both Deepica Mutyala & Glynn Connolly swear by OLLY Daily Energy Gummy Supplement, which also includes Vitamin B12 and Goji Berry. Probiotics like in Renew Life Ultimate Flora, as used by writer Fariha Roisin and actress Caitlin Stasey, help support vaginal and gut health, which can combat yeast infections. Fariha wrote, “These are my musts! I have a very sensitive reproductive system, so I need to be diligent about how I care for my vagina.” For Byrdie editor Victoria Hoff, Moon Juice Probiotics have provided the support for a healthy gut by creating her own recipe, "It's a powder, so it's really easy to add to smoothies every morning, and my stomach always feels better when I remember to take it. I mix a teaspoon of the probiotics with a can of full-fat coconut milk, add a spoonful or two of vegan yogurt to help feed the good bacteria, and then put a piece of cloth over the top of the jar and let it sit in a sunny window for a couple of days. When it's tangy enough, I pop it in the fridge. It's so creamy and delicious!" 


What To Look Out For

With an overwhelming amount of vitamins and brands, it’s important to be wary of fillers. Dr. Patel wrote, “Avoid products that contain hydrogenated oils, artificial colors, magnesium stearate, maltodextrin, ascorbic acid, and titanium dioxide.” Reading the labels is a good way to start, as she recommends, since these fillers are used to make a vitamin easier to look at or swallow.



Must Have Nutrients in Your Vitamins

Vitamin B12: Keeping up the energy to get through the day can be useful with Vitamin B12. Dr. Patel writes, “Supplementation can be an especially important for vegans and vegetarians, as B12 is mostly found in meat.” Writer Molly Young takes VeganSafe B12 liquid vitamin B12 and Heba Kadry takes Nature Made B12 tablets.

Vitamin D3: For those living in seasonal climates, winter is the time of year when people are most prone to seasonal depression, or SAD. Sarah Kinlaw takes D3 vitamins during the fall and winter as a preventive measure to feel “less susceptible to seasonal depression.” Products like Sarah’s recommended Micellized Vitamin D3 is used as a dietary supplement that can be dropped in food and beverages contains Vitamin D, a supplement for any SAD symptoms. Sara Haile recommends the gel capsules of Carlson Vitamin D3. While we may not be spending as much time outside in the sun, which naturally provides Vitamin D, supplements in the colder seasons can help.

Vitamin E: Beneficial for the growth of hair and nails, this can be found in the cabinets of the women of Passerbuys, like with artist Jo Rosenthal, through the use of oil.

Iron: Particularly essential for women, as Dr. Patel wrote, “iron deficiency is especially common in young women due to the loss of blood through menstruation.” She added that iron is “linked to more energy, better cognition, and better resistance to viruses and infections.” Entrepreneur Olivia La Roche recommends Vitanica Iron Extra Vegetarian Capsules, and Molly Young takes Floradix Iron & Herbs, adding that she generally doesn't believe in supplements but that her "blood-work shows that those two really work." Alternatively, jeweler Dana Bodourov recommends spinach or cooking food in a cast iron pan instead.

Magnesium: For professional hula hooper and performer, Marawa Wamp, using liquid Magnesium such as Better You Magnesium Oil Spray, is a way to reduce any foot swelling while she’s on the go. Artist Molly Surno recommends Natural Calm Magnesium Citrate Powder. Magnesium relaxes muscles and can be an aid for stress relief, including staying regular.

Vitamin C: During the cold season, our bodies are more susceptible to getting sick, so keeping together with Vitamin C will help to boost our immunity. Dr. Patel adds, "It’s also very effective at keeping your eyes and skin healthy and protected from damage from UV light and environmental pollution." Jeweler Laura Lombardi recommends Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C, and If you’re looking for a dewy complexion, "It’s also a collagen-booster.” Musician Momo Ishiguro takes Trader Joe’s Vitamin C Complex, and many other passersby use liquid Vitamin C, an alternative to tablet form. Writer Jenna Wortham and Urban Outfitters' Events Manager, Cara Flaherty recommends Mario Badescu Vitamin C serum for her skin, and Fariha Roisin uses Paula’s Choice Resist C15 Super Booster.

Calcium: Dr. Patel writes, "Calcium can be helpful for bone health, though we’re increasingly learning that to be most effective, it needs to work with magnesium and K2, so be sure that you’re taking the three together." Jeweler Dana Bodourov wrote, "I strongly recommend an algae based one, not limestone. I take New Chapter Bone Strength Slim Tabs."

Vitamin A: For more antioxidants, Vitamin A, also called beta carotene, can help with glowing skin and sharper vision.


Words by Jessica Joyce Jacolbe