Ask Gerda: How to Choose Your Vitamin Protocol
Gerda Endemann, our senior director of science and research, has a BS in nutrition from UC Berkeley, a PhD in nutritional biochemistry from MIT, and a passion for cherry-picking from our wellness shop. She spends a lot of her time interpreting research—established and emerging. You’ll find some of her deep dives into health conditions in our growing library of articles called goop PhD. You can send your own questions for Gerda to [email protected].
Dear goop, I want to take a multivitamin, but I have no idea how to choose one. What should I look for and what’s special about goop’s protocols? —Jessica W.
Hi, Jessica. There are so many products that choosing a daily supplement is confusing and difficult. It’s too much to expect that you would know how to decide on a brand, let alone a specific formulation. I talked in depth about evaluating safety and quality in a recent column. For now, know that goop’s vitamin protocols are manufactured according to current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) as defined by the FDA and are tested to make sure that they contain the desired ingredients. I feel good about recommending these products to my friends and family.
I don’t know enough about you to recommend a specific product, so I’ll describe the rationale behind goop’s five multivitamin protocols, and from there, it should be pretty easy for you to decide on one with your doctor. I think it’s a smart idea to take a daily multivitamin. Vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients like lutein and polyphenols are lost during food processing, and most people I know end up eating some refined sugar and flour—things a daily multi can help with.
goop’s daily protocols were designed by doctors and herbalists for people at different stages of life. The protocols come in convenient daily packets and contain essential vitamins and minerals. They all contain EPA and DHA, the long omega-3 fats. But they are also uniquely formulated for:
•motherhood and energy
•menopause and thyroid support
•immunity, detox, and skin health
•stress and fatigue
Around goop, the women twenty to fifty years old know that if they pass my desk looking tired or pale, I don’t hesitate to play the mother role and ask them about their iron nutrition. I highly recommend The Mother Load for people who are menstruating and therefore regularly losing iron. Chances of being iron-deficient increase with heavy periods, not eating much meat, and drinking tea with meals. And of course, The Mother Load is ideal for many people who are pregnant, nursing, or recovering from bearing children. In addition to the usual vitamins, it nourishes developing brains with choline and extra DHA.*
Now that I’m postmenopausal, it’s easy to keep my blood iron in a nice range, and as a result, I have more energy than I did before. But menopause brings with it its own particular set of issues. What I have to deal with now are hot flashes. The frequency goes up and down, but they never seem to go away. Sometimes I may enjoy a shot of heat, but not always.
There were two reasons I decided to try Madame Ovary: night sweats that woke me up and hot flashes that kept me from functioning at crucial times. The results exceeded my expectations. Black cohosh and rhodiola are the star ingredients. Traditional medicine and modern research have established the value of these herbs for mild hot flashes, mood shifts, and stress-related fatigue. There’s also support for thyroid gland function from inositol, iodine, and selenium. And my eyes and skin appreciate the lutein and zeaxanthin.*
If support for immunity, detox, and your skin is what you want, I recommend Balls in the Air. It has the immunity basics, such as zinc and vitamins C and D, for an all-around approach to healthy white blood cells. Vitamin A is included for healthy mucous membrane barriers in the nose. And Balls in the Air contains N-acetylcysteine and niacinamide, which make this protocol uniquely able to support immunity and detoxification in the lungs and skin. Niacinamide, in particular, has been clinically studied and shown to have benefits for healthy, resilient skin cells.*
The herbal adaptogen blend in Why Am I So Effing Tired? is designed for a stressed-out body and mind. Ashwagandha, holy basil, and bacopa are taken from the Ayurvedic tradition, where they are used to help support resilience, calm, and focus. Generous doses of B vitamins are included because of their roles in biochemical pathways that generate physical and mental energy. This daily packet provides a multipronged approach to a full-body reset.*
Metabolism is the sum of the biochemical reactions in your body that generate energy and that consume energy. We burn fats and carbs to obtain energy, and then we expend that energy moving, thinking, and digesting. Whether you are on the track team or merely fueling a growing body, high school is a time frequently associated with a fast metabolism. For women who feel like their metabolism is slowing down and want to make sure that it’s fully supported, we suggest High School Genes.
Like Effing Tired, High School Genes provides liberal amounts of B vitamins because they are converted into the catalysts—called enzyme cofactors—that every metabolic reaction requires. But High School Genes drills deeper, with alpha-lipoic acid (an antioxidant and cofactor for mitochondrial metabolism) and chromium (which helps sugar get into cells to be burned). This formula benefits from a combination of herbs inspired by traditional Chinese medicine, including green tea catechins, Chinese cinnamon, ginger, and licorice, designed to support healthy glucose and energy metabolism.*
Whether or not you take a multi, you and your doctor may wish to consider supplemental vitamin D. The Nue Co.’s Vitamin D Spray is the easiest way to take a vitamin ever: Three sprays in your mouth provides a generous 3,000 international units. It’s difficult to get much vitamin D from food, and most of our supply comes from biosynthesis in sunlight-exposed skin. If you use sunscreen, cover up, have darkly pigmented skin, or stay inside most of the time, it’s likely that you are not making a lot of this vitamin that’s essential for immunity and bone health.*
If targeting your brain is on your mind, you may be interested in magnesium L-threonate, a form of magnesium developed for this express purpose. Lots of preclinical research and a well-controlled clinical trial have demonstrated benefits for brain health and memory. You’ll like this formulation if you don’t like pills: It’s a gel that you swallow in one gulp, like a shot.*
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of goop.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.