I've been using this $39 vitamin subscription for months - the vitamins are made from whole foods instead of powder and are reportedly absorbed into your body easier
- I signed up for a $39 monthly subscription to GEM, a women's daily multivitamin, about four months ago. In that time, it's become a can't-live-without part of my morning routine.
- What sets GEM apart is that its vitamins come from whole food sources, like mushrooms and algae, which some doctors and nutritionists say are better assimilated into the body than encapsulated powders.
- The daily serving isn't a pill or capsule at all - it's actually like a soft, chewy, smushed block of food.
- Besides being good for your body, GEM's ingredients are ethically sourced from green suppliers and the company uses eco-friendly packaging to reduce its environmental footprint.
To be honest, I first landed on GEM's website because I thought the product had something to do with gemstone, and there are few things I love more in life than an energy-clearing crystal.
What I discovered ended up being even better though - a women's daily multivitamin made from real, whole foods and backed by nutritionists.
The copy on GEM's site that immediately grabbed my attention was, "Your body naturally metabolizes and effectively absorbs nutrients from real food." I'd heard the same from doctors and nutritionists before who'd warned me against taking too many vitamins and supplements actually. It's better to get your necessary vitamins and minerals from a diet rich in whole foods like fresh fruits and veggies than encapsulated powder pills.
That's what truly sets GEM apart from the many, many, many vitamins I've tried in the past. The daily serving isn't a pill or capsule at all - it's actually like a soft, chewy, smushed block of food. The blend contains the same nutrients you'd expect from a daily multivitamin (vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, calcium, and more), but the nutrients come from whole food sources. For example, GEM's vitamin D is from mushrooms, and the iron is from blue algae.
"Whole foods contain a synergistic blend of micro and macronutrients that work together, compared to any isolated nutrient from a lab," Colleen Baxter, a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, Functional Medicine Health Coach, and founder of Vessel & Soul, tells Business Insider. "It's challenging, if not impossible, to get all we need from our food these days. High-quality nutritional supplements can make it easier on the body, particularly compromised digestive systems, by encapsulating a high potency of one, or several, bioavailable nutrients that we're needing to balance or heal."
While Baxter says GEM isn't a replacement for a healthy diet (you still need to eat your vegetables), she says the innovative brand may be one worth incorporating into your daily routine. "The pills don't have synthetic fillers or binders, nor are they capsules or tablets to swallow," she says. "And they're derived from whole foods, which can contain a host of other beneficial constituents."
So, are all vitamins derived from foods?
Actually, they're not, and there aren't many FDA regulations in place to monitor the vitamin and supplement industry either. That's exactly what prompted founder Sarah Cullen to launch GEM in the first place.
In 2017, Cullen turned to vitamins to fill in the gaps in her diet and support her personal health journey. "I was shocked when I found an unregulated $37B industry full of artificial, synthetic, overly processed, mislabeled junk," she tells Business Insider. For example, the vitamin D in supplements often comes from lanolin, a substance derived from sheep's wool.
"I couldn't find anything I trusted, so I decided to build my own," Cullen explains. After meeting and collaborating with experts in the field, she landed on the concept of "redefining the entire notion of the vitamin," says the founder. "GEM is made with 13 nutrient-dense ingredients you can read on the label - without all the fluff and junk. It's designed to give you the nutrients your body needs the most, with nothing that it doesn't, based on women's common deficiencies and issues."
A big one is vitamin D. "This super-hormone is involved in so many vital needs including mental and emotional health, a happy gut, and a strong immune system," Baxter says. GEM sources its vitamin D from mushrooms (not sheep's wool, thankfully), so that the body can better absorb and process it.
"B vitamins are important for metabolism, mental and emotional balance and energy, cellular health, and DNA repair," Baxter adds, and GEM has them in spades thanks to spirulina and chlorella, two different forms of algae. She says that many women can also be deficient in magnesium, which can lead to anxiety, muscle tension, and issues with digestion and blood sugar. That's why the nutrient features heavily in GEM's ingredient list, care of sea minerals.
Since starting my monthly $39 GEM subscription, I've been able to eliminate quite a few other pills and powders from my diet. One daily GEM chewable gives me energy (care of B vitamins), balances my hormones and mood (thanks to omega-3s, magnesium, and vitamin D), and even helps my skin (that'll be the K2 and astaxanthin, a type of algae packed with antioxidants).
You may have noticed a lot of algae in the ingredient breakdown, but according to Cullen, that's all by design.
"The UN and even NASA endorsed algae as the healthiest food on the planet and we agree, which is why more than 30% of GEM is made up of algae," she says. Besides being good for you, algae is one of the most sustainable sources of vitamins and nutrients. "For instance, one gram of spirulina is equivalent to one kilogram of fruits and vegetables in nutrient density," Cullen explains. "Algae creates half of the earth's oxygen, and doesn't need a lot of space or pesticides to grow." In short, it's not only great for human health, it's great for the planet's health too.
This focus on sustainability is a theme that GEM carries throughout all aspects of the business - which is another reason I'm so dedicated to this particular daily vitamin. The company boasts an ethical supply chain and works with mostly eco-friendly suppliers, and GEM's packaging is recyclable too. The brand is set to release a reusable tin and compostable packaging soon.
With all of that in mind - the whole foods, sustainable sourcing, eco-friendly packaging - GEM has become my go-to, can't-live-without vitamin in the past four months.
I love the feeling of biting into my morning vitamin as opposed to swallowing a capsule. Even though it's a little seed-y and definitely not the most delicious thing I've ever eaten, I really do feel like my body responds well to it. Plus, the monthly subscription makes it easy to stay on top of my health.
If you're interested in GEM Daily Vitamins for yourself, talk to your doctor or nutritionist first. I've found this to be a great addition to my regular diet and lifestyle, but since every body is different, it's important to get a personalized, professional recommendation.
One pro tip though - if you do subscribe to GEM, take one before you brush your teeth in the morning. The abundance of green and blue algae leaves the faintest hint of color behind. Though honestly, it's a small price to pay for a bioavailable, high-quality women's daily vitamin, right?
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