Vous Vitamin was founded by partners Dr Arielle Levitan, MD a doctor of internal medicine and Dr Romy Block MD, an endocrinologist. The idea was born of a frustration they shared.
“We would talk a lot with each other about our practices and patients,” Dr Levitan told NutraIngredients-USA. “One thing that kept coming up with our patients was this confusion about vitamins. People were getting a lot of conflicting information about what to take.”
Questionnaire determines formulation
The company’s model is to match multivitamins with customers via the results of a detailed questionnaire. It includes the basics: name, age, region of the country in which the customer lives. It also asks some medical history, has a question on goals or specific issues the consumer would like to address.
And the questionnaire asks after eating habits, how many servings of leafy green vegetables a consumer eats in a day, how much dairy products, etc.
The results matches the consumer with one of a range of multivitamin formulations that best matches that individual’s situation and needs. The vitamins are sold direct to consumers, either as one time purchases or on a subscription model.
Dr Levitan said the results support consumers health while avoiding some of the pitfalls that can come with multivitamin supplementation.
“We know people were taking a lot of different products that could have some unsafe combinations,” she said. “We felt we had the background to create safe products.”
Dr Levitan said she believes there is a real threat of harm if consumers follow the ‘if one is good, two are better’ type of approach to using vitamins. The detailed survey is intended to make sure consumers who might already be getting a significant dose of vitamins in their diets don’t pile on too much more with a supplement.
“We wrote a book about vitamins (called The Vitamin Solution). We know from our medical background that people can overdose on vitamins, especially on the fat soluble ones. We’ve seen people in our practices that have become toxic from vitamins. We have a whole chapter in the book about vitamin horror stories,” she said.
Goal: Simpler, more effective formulas
Dr Levitan said the pair worked to create simpler but more effective multivitamins. When researching products on the shelf, she said they noticed that many had dozens of ingredients, some of which they considered to be superfluous, while others were present in dosages too small to be effective.
“In general our products contain a tighter range of ingredients—fewer but many at higher dosages or what we would consider to be useful dosages compared to many of the products on the market. In terms of the actual quality of the ingredients we did work very hard to find a contract manufacturer of the highest quality,” she said.
For example, Dr Levitan said that she and Dr Block noticed that many of the multivitamins on the market came up short on vitamin D. The questionnaire takes latitude into account, and also ask after a consumer’s activities, which include outside options like cycling and walking or running. Even with the contribution of sun exposure, Dr Levitan said Vous’ products include added vitamin D to make up for shortfalls.
“Many of the traditional off the shelf vitamins tend to do a little low on vitamin D. Most of us need a little bit more than the recommended 400 IU a day. We believe many if not most Americans are deficient in vitamin D,” she said.