Working as a wellness and fitness writer, I sometimes find myself overwhelmed by all the things I should be doing for my well-being. On one hand, I love to work out. CrossFit, hot yoga, high intensity interval training, Olympic lifting, running — you name it, I do it (or will try it). But on the other hand, there’s all this other stuff—adaptogens for stress relief, biotin for hair strength, magnesium for sleep, mushroom tea for… taste? Usually, this leads to me purchasing all these pills and tinctures only to — gulp — do none of them.
I decided to embrace — and start taking — a multivitamin as an accessory to my wellness routine. Enter: Ritual, a vitamin supplement company that created a women’s daily vitamin called Essential for Women which I’ve seen on my Instagram timeline. I liked the concept of a multi that was specifically for women, so I decided to do a little research.
Ritual was founded by a woman named Kat Schneide, who was concerned by the number of harmful additives and “extra ingredients” in her prenatal supplements. She (and her team of researchers) set out to create a women’s multi that took the confusion and unknown/extra ingredients out of women’s daily vitamins and replace it with traceability, affordability and simplicity. The resulting product is stylish pill formulated with what the brand calls, the “foundational-to-health nutrients 90% of women are missing.”
Sounds good, but reading isn’t the same as experiencing. I wanted to learn more and decided to take a closer look by trying Ritual for a few months (tough job, but someone’s gotta do it). You can read about my experiences below, including both the pros and cons I found when reviewing Ritual Essential for Women.
Ritual Multivitamin Ingredients
If you follow an “evidence based or bust” mentality, you’re in luck. Apparently, Ritual’s in house scientists combed through thousands of studies to find out: 1) what nutrients women are most commonly lacking — vitamins K2, D3, B12, and E, plus boron, iron, magnesium, folate, and Omega-3, according to them — and 2) which form of the nutrient our body is best able to digest.
The resulting product is those 9 nutrients in the form they found is best absorbed in our body. That means that inside the encapsulation, the dry ingredients are kept dry and the oily ingredients are kept oily, which keeps the ingredients from interacting.
Worth mentioning: On their website, Ritual provides info on where in the world each of the 9 ingredients is from, an explanation of ‘why’ the ingredient is essential, and the research that explains why each ingredient is in the form it’s in, for consumers who want to know more.
Let’s break down the ingredient list a little further.
[Check out our list of the best women’s multivitamins HERE.]
Vitamin D3 and Bone Health
2000 IU per serving
Vitamin D3 has been shown to help with bone health, immune strength, cognition, and calcium absorption. Because of its link with bone strength — though we should emphasize it should also be accompanied with a good calcium intake — many women are strongly advised to supplement with Vitamin D.(1)(2) While it’s known as the “sunshine vitamin”, relying on the sun as your primary Vitamin D source isn’t always realistic. For one, 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. And for another, most people live in climates that aren’t sunny at all times. (Though I’ll admit, that’s my personal #goals).
Ritual uses Vitashine™, the world’s only Certified vegan D3 ingredient made from UK-sourced lichen, unlike the commonly used sheep’s wool or fish liver oil—which means that Ritual can be taken by vegans, too.
Vitamin E and Skin
10 IU per serving
If you follow self proclaimed wellness warriors on Instagram you’ve probably noticed that ingestible beauty supplements are having a moment. A lot of these ingestible beauty supplements have Vitamin E, which is thought to have anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting benefits.(3)(4) A powerful antioxidant, it’s also frequently included in skincare regimens — both topically and as dietary supplements — because of its potential ability to help protect against sun damage and limit the growth of tumors, though more research needs to be done here.(5)(6)
Sourced from Argentina, Ritual’s Vitamin E is delivered to the body in the same form found in antioxidant foods.
Vitamin K2 MK7 Benefits
90 mcg per serving
K2 is known for facilitating healthy skin, bone health, and heart health, and Ritual’s uses a pure, non-soy form of it that originates from Norway. And, while Ritual may not contain calcium, there’s evidence that Vitamin K2 may make sure our bodies are absorbing the calcium in our diets properly.(7)(8)
600 mcg per serving
You may have also heard of folic acid being taken by pregnant women, who have long been instructed to take folic acid to prevent birth defects. But the vitamin could have health benefits even for women who are not trying to get pregnant such as better mood and brain health.(9)
Here’s the thing: the brand’s research showed that close to 40% of women’s bodies are not efficient at absorbing the synthetic folate, folic acid, due to a gene variation. So instead Ritual uses a form from Italy, which they claim may make it easier for women who have these gene type to absorb the vitamin.(10)(11)
Vitamin B12 Benefits
8 mcg per serving
Exhaustion, feeling weak, hair loss, increased stress, and forgetfulness are potential symptoms of B12 deficiency.(12) The trouble with these symptoms is that they can easily be explained away as a consequence of work stress and our go-go-go lifestyle, which is likely why some women continue to be deficient in this nutrient.
Ritual’s methylcobalamin is the same form found in our food and cells, and is a more active form of B12 than Cyanocobalamin B12—which is a synthetic, lab-created version of the vitamin.
8 mg per serving
It seems like generalized exhaustion and fatigue are common symptoms for most deficiencies, and those are the two big signs of iron deficiency, too. That’s because iron helps our body produce red blood cells and transport oxygen throughout the body.(13) For women in particular, iron deficiency can be exacerbated by menstruation and pregnancy.
50 mg per serving
Magnesium is a mineral with some serious perks. To name some of the benefits it’s been tied to: stronger immune system, healthier heart and bones, and reduced stress.(14)(15) IMO, magnesiums #1 perk is that it may also be beneficial for improving sleep quality.(16)
But, since the body does not produce magnesium itself, it is reliant on outside sources—like a supplement or foods like darky leafy greens, dark chocolate, and whole grains—to get its daily fix. Ritual delivers magnesium in a form that protects it from interacting with other, more oily vitamins, which could mean better absorption.
1 mg per serving
Boron is important for brain and bone health. It also appears to help the body to metabolize and use key vitamins and minerals, and it may also affects estrogen and testosterone levels.(17)
There is no established dietary recommendation for boron in terms of daily value. But naturally found in prunes, almonds, and raisins, the Ritual team decided no one wants to drink that much prune juice. So instead, the team included a food-form of boron in the pill that is preferred by the body (and less harsh on the stomach).
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Benefits
DHA & EPA 320 mg per serving
Omega-3 fatty acids — of which there are three types: EPA, DHA, ALA — have been linked to a reduction is risk factors for all sorts of health issues including depression, ADHD, hypertension, joint pain, psoriasis, ulcerative colitis, and certain heart chronic diseases including heart disease.(18)
But according to Ritual’s research, more than 70 percent of women don’t get enough Omega-3s in their diet. So Ritual went vegan by sourcing Omega-3s from American algal oil rather than fish. Aside from being vegan and vegetarian approved, a review published in journal Nutrients found that algae-based Omega-3 supplements may be less impactful on the environment and more sustainable than the production of even the most sustainably sourced fish oil supplements.(19)
[Learn more about the benefits of Omega-3s for athletes!]
What’s Missing from Ritual?
Vitamin enthusiasts may be surprised to find that a few of the common multi-ingredients like calcium and Vitamin C are missing from the ingredient list. Rituals research team says most women get enough Vitamin C from our daily diets. And instead of calcium, the capsules have vitamin D3, K2, boron, which appear to work together to improve how our bodies utilize calcium in and from the foods we eat. But it’s still worth noting that Ritual doesn’t contain some ingredients women may look for in their supplements.
Other common ingredients that you might find missing and are often included in women’s multis might be biotin, zinc, copper, alpha-lipoic acid, other B vitamins, and probiotics.
Ritual Vitamin Benefits and Effectiveness
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.
When my first package arrived at my doorstep I felt like a little kid on Christmas (not an overstatement). Delivered in a cute, grammable, and sunshiney yellow package. Plus, while the instructions are easy-enough (aka take two pills any time of day with or without food), each pacakge comes with a little booklet of instructions reminding you how to take them and what’s in them.
When I unscrewed the cap the first time, I immediately noticed that the vitamin doesn’t smell the way I expect a vitamin containing Omega-3 to smell: like fish. Instead, the the vitamins smell and taste like mint. Each bottle contains a food-grade insert infused with pure peppermint to keep your vitamins smelling minty fresh. That means that even though one of the ingredients has an oceanic aroma, the vitamins don’t smell like seaweed… at all. The minty taste and smell means I can (and did) take Ritual after I brush my teeth without worrying about a funky after-taste.
One big pro I noticed after taking Ritual is that I never got a stomach ache from the pill (and that’s saying something because my stomach is super sensitive). Ritual uses a vegan, delayed-release capsule which they say not only bypasses the stomach to prevent nausea, but also ensures maximum absorption of the nutrients. Plus, Ritual use a form of iron that is more tolerable on the stomach than some other forms.
I took Ritual a few mornings on an empty stomach just to see if it would upset my stomach, but it didn’t. However, I actually preferred to take it at night because of the minty almost-like-mouthwash taste. Interestingly, while some people report that taking Vitamin D before bed interferes with their sleep, I didn’t have a hard time falling asleep during my trial.
I will also say that I found that the pills went down easier than some other multivitamins I’ve taken in the past, thanks to the smooth encasing. However, there are two pills and they are about the size of chiclet of gum—or about twice the size of a tic tac—which means taking them could be tricky for you if you’ve had difficulty swallowing a vitamins or medicine in the past.
After taking Ritual every evening for a month, and I had to say… I didn’t feel any different. According to Ritual’s website, this is normal. While many people feel a difference within 1-2 weeks, some, like me, don’t notice anything at all, and IMO, that’s okay because it’s what’s happening inside my body that counts.
While I can’t say for sure whether or not Ritual is doing anything for me on the inside, the fact that my pee color or odor have not change at all suggest that I’m actually absorbing and using the nutrients in the pills (as opposed to peeing them out).
In part, the lack of immediate effects signals to the fact that Ritual is a multivitamin, it’s not a shot of expression, an energy drink, or pre-workout. But in part, it’s because most fat-soluble nutrients take longer for the body to absorb and really use. According to Ritual, it could take 3 to 4 months for the body to reach a healthy new equilibrium. ~Healthy new equilibrium~. I don’t entirely know what that means, but hey, it’s catchy.
So while I don’t feel better-than-ever, and I still need a second cup of coffee in the morning, I’m still a fan of the little capsules overall.
A second potential con of Ritual I want to point out: It isn’t customized to each individual customer. Sure, it’s meant specifically for women. But (spoiler alert!) there’s a lot of variation in what women need and look for in their nutrients. Which means it could be missing one of the nutrients that you personally are looking for in a multi, while it’s missing a different nutrient that I personally look for.
Ritual follows a pricing plan millennials are used to, and is currently offered only on a subscription basis. For $30 a month, you’ll receive a monthly shipment of the product delivered right to your door. That’s $1 a day, which feels reasonable to me considering my lunchtime salad is upwards of $15.00.
Bonus: if you aren’t happy after your first bottle, Ritual picks up the tab. They have a happiness guarantee, so they’ll refund your first bottle no questions asked.
How To Cancel Your Ritual Subscription
In my opinion, the biggest potential downfall of Ritual is that it’s subscription based (though some might find that a benefit since you don’t have to remind yourself to reorder). That means that if after your first month you want to cancel it… you have to actually cancel, or you’ll get charged for and set another 30 day supply. And FYI, if you *do* decide to cancel, you can’t just do it through your online account. (Online you can only delay the delivery date, which feels a little tricky). While making the phone call and cancelling takes less than 3 total minutes (I tried it, just to see), cancelling may be another thing you have to add to your to-do list.
I enjoyed reviewing Ritual Essential (and especially receiving this product in the mail). It has nine ingredients that their research showed women tend to be lacking, some pretty solid potential benefits, and only costs $1 a day. Plus, it has a minty taste and didn’t upset my stomach.
If you have a tendency to forget to cancel a subscription services, have a hard time swallowing pills, or want to see immediate benefits, this probably isn’t the vitamin for you. But otherwise, I don’t see many drawbacks in incorporating this vitamin into your routine.
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