Step Aside, Drugstores: These Wharton Grads Are Changing the Vitamin Game

There are a number of adjectives that I might use when talking about the vitamin and supplement aisle at a big-name drugstore: overwhelming, confusing, ACKSOMANYOPTIONSHELP all come to mind. One word I wouldn’t use? Delightful. But Care/of, an NYC-based personalized vitamin and supplement delivery service launched by Wharton grads Craig Elbert and Akash Shah, is trying to make the vitamin-buying experience more delightful.

As Elbert says, “I’d had a doctor say I was vitamin D deficient, and my wife was pregnant and had been recommended to get prenatal vitamins.” He went to the drugstore to get some vitamins, as one does, and, “I had this overwhelming experience of not knowing how to navigate what was in them. I thought there must be a better way to make this more delightful and easier for the consumer.”

Enter Care/of, Elbert and Shah’s service, which launched in November, in which you take an online quiz discussing your values and goals in taking vitamins and supplements — from skin, to immunity to energy, and more — then receive recommendations for a personalized daily pack of vitamins to be delivered to your home in an oh-so-cute monthly box that you will be happy to display on your kitchen counter. Sounds much more delightful than rummaging through the aisles at CVS, right? (I went through the process and can confirm that it definitely is.)

But more than just making shopping for vitamins and supplements less of a hassle for the consumer, what’s cool about Care/of is that, within in an industry that is overflowing with BS for consumers to wade through, one of their aims is to be more transparent than most. As Elbert says, “There are two elements of honesty for us. First, it’s showing people the rigor of the science.” Care/of’s scientific advisory board vets all of their supplements and vitamins and helps them to rank the scientific research behind them, with rankings from “Emerging Research” to “Very Strong Research” to “Mixed Research,” which they include in the description of each product. Then, they also provide research related to the efficacy of each vitamin or supplement on their website, so you can come to your own conclusion about whether you think — based on the science — the product is worth it. Elbert tells me they don’t carry any vitamins or supplements that their scientific advisory board deemed as having weak research.

The second element of their honesty approach is transparency of where ingredients come from. For instance, you’ll see clearly noted on their website that their fish oil comes from sustainably sourced wild Alaskan salmon. For comparison’s sake, I just peeked at my co-worker’s CVS brand fish oil, which involved an “and/or” for the fish source.

As Elbert notes, “What’s changed is, increasingly, consumers are demanding to know more about what we’re putting into our bodies and we want to understand how everything is made. Ultimately, the challenge for supplement manufacturers is that they have these legacy supply chains that have been built to create the cheapest product possible. It’s hard to turn this around, and that’s where I think we have an advantage — we’re starting from the ground up.”

That’s not to say that, even with all that honesty and ease, Care/of isn’t deserving of some skepticism: After all, just last month, a study took over the internet suggesting we should all be more skeptical of vitamins and supplements in general. That said, they’re making it way simpler than, say, CVS, to sift through the BS and figure out what might be worth it for you. Plus: No waiting in drug stores lines! #Winning. You can check out Care/of’s website and take a peek at their products here.

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