The world of supplements can be daunting, especially with all the options out there. You have to determine which supplements are actually effective and which ones are hype, which ones are necessary and which ones won’t exacerbate your situation. You might also have to consider cost, side effects and potential interactions with medications and/or other supplements.
There are so many things to consider that it can become overwhelming. Persona aims to help with this problem by doing the legwork for you. They worked with doctors and nutritionists to create an algorithm that has you fill out a simple online questionnaire. You input your gender, age, goals, concerns, diet, exercise level as well as any genetic testing and they come up with daily supplement packets custom-tailored for you. This is a subscription service that ships monthly.
This is actually a pretty genius idea because there are so many permutations and combinations of supplements you could be taking it’s not even funny. You can do your own research and go through trial and error by experimenting with which supplements help you without too many side effects, but the reality is it can take a long time to find the right mix (stack). There’s also a lot of conflicting information out there and you have to think about the opportunity cost involved.
Obviously you want to eat a balanced diet, exercise and live a balanced life. Supplements can be a tool to enhance your health and help you become the best version of yourself.
Personalization + Cost
Persona has 84 supplements in their arsenal, including most of the heavy hitters and many cutting edge ones as well.
For me, Persona recommended melatonin and Herbal Rest (magnesium, hops, and l-theanine) for sleep, green tea extract and cordyceps for energy, UC-II (cartilage/collagen) for joint support, a “foundational formula” of a multivitamin, probiotics and an omega 3 cap and vitamin D. This all came out to $3.50 per day. They give you a 30% discount on your first order, so you could try out this particular stack for $2.45 per day.
Persona also recommended CBD oil as an optional add on for sleep and joint support, which would bump the daily cost to $4.38.
I’ve tried melatonin and magnesium for sleep and although they haven’t helped me personally, I know they do help a lot of people. Hops and l-theanine are worth a shot. I’ve tried l-theanine before during the day and although it had a calming effect, I wasn’t convinced it was suitable for daily, long-term use. I haven’t tried green tea extract, although I’m aware it can be harsh on the liver, especially in doses exceeding 800 mg (which Persona stays well under). Cordyceps I’ve tried and discontinued due to some mild side effects. Persona’s other recommendations are all solid for me, aside from CBD oil, which I’ve tried as well and had some side effects in terms of feeling a bit tired the following day.
Some supplements, especially herbal ones, are best cycled so your body doesn’t become used to them and cause their beneficial effects to wear off. A persona could work for cycling as you can manually swap out specific supplements, although if something doesn’t work for you, you’ll have to wait until your next order to try something else. If you buy individual supplements from a retailer, you can typically exchange them right away (even if they’ve been opened).
Even though the supplements Persona recommends are well-researched and “personalized,” they still may not work for you. The good thing is that you can adjust your stack as you go along.
The research that Persona does on the back end is impressive. For example, they cite a study showing how their UC-II joint support supplement consisting of cartilage/collagen is more beneficial than glucosamine/chondroitin, which is the generic recommendation for joint pain (I have some knee pain following meniscus surgery).
I also toyed around with different answers on the questionnaire. If I wanted to improve my mood, for instance, Persona recommends a supplement with probiotic strains (in addition to their foundational probiotic supplement) that have been shown to help specifically with mood. Now obviously it’s up to you to determine how much you can afford and which supplements are actually worth taking, but Persona makes it easy because you can remove a recommendation with the click of a button.
Persona Nutrition Ingredient Quality
Taking a look at the ingredients Persona uses in their Foundational Multivitamin sheds some light on the quality of the supplements they’re using overall. They use vitamin K2 (MK-7), which is better absorbed than K1. Some multis don’t even contain vitamin K and if they do, it’s typically K1. Persona also uses folate instead of folic acid, which is a must as folic acid can be counterproductive for under-methylators and there’s some concern regarding its long-term safety in terms of potentially contributing to increased cancer risk. They also have methylcobalamin for B-12, which is better absorbed than cyanocobalamin. Most of the cheap multis will have folic acid and cyanocobalamin.
The quantities of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals are on the low side. It only has 33% of vitamin A, 63% of D, 15% of E, 50% of K, 50% of iodine, 23% of zinc, 45% of selenium, 56% of copper and 50% of molybdenum. Now, this could also be by design and not just to save money, as fat-soluble vitamins and minerals are easier to get too much of when compared to water-soluble ones. Interestingly enough, some of the water-soluble vitamin quantities are a bit high. This multi has 625% of B-1 and 500% of biotin. Most multis go way over the recommended daily intake (RDI) for water-soluble vitamins and usually contain something close to the RDI for fat-soluble vitamins and minerals. There’s some indication that the RDI is set to prevent deficiency, but may not ensure optimal health. For example, some people believe that the RDI for vitamin C is the minimum needed to prevent scurvy and not the amount needed to receive all the benefits of the famous vitamin, although this isn’t clear and more isn’t always better when it comes to vitamins and minerals. Still, I would’ve liked to see at least the full RDI for vitamin D as it’s harder to get from food. I would’ve also liked to see more than just 15% of the RDI for vitamin E, which is way too low. Finally, the zinc to copper ratio is low. They actually have more copper than zinc, when most multis are balanced or have it the other way around.
Persona also adds some great antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, which are beneficial for vision (among other things).
In terms of other ingredients, Persona uses modified starch and carrageenan, which aren’t the best, but not terrible either when compared to the fillers in most multis. They also use sunflower oil, glycerin, caramel, and candelilla wax, which are okay.
By extrapolating this analysis (as opposed to boring you by reviewing all 84 supplements), we can reasonably assume that Persona uses high quality and important ingredients with minimal fillers, although some of their doses could be better. They also use trademarked ingredients in some of their supplements. For example, they use Sensoril, which is a well-studied Ashwangandha extract proven to have efficacy.
The capsules and/or tablets come combined together in individually-wrapped doses depending on the time of day you’re supposed to take them. This is super convenient, especially for travel and you could even make the case that it’s not much worse for the environment because supplement bottles are typically plastic and a lot bigger than they need to be. Having these pre-measured, time-specific, supplement packs on hand is incredibly useful and makes it harder for you to miss or take an extra dose.
Benefits of Persona Nutrition Vitamins
Obviously the personalization aspect of this is incredibly useful. The online questionnaire is comprehensive and straightforward. You can add or remove supplements from your stack. Persona’s algorithm also analyzes prescription medications to avoid recommending supplements with dangerous interactions. It’s also nice to have your name on the outside of each pack, along with its contents and when to take them.
Persona also has nutritionists on staff who can provide you with specific advice regarding your stack, which is actually a pretty nice benefit to have. Although a lot of this information is available online, sometimes it’s good to have someone knowledgeable in the matter to bounce your thoughts off of.
It’s hard to be critical of a company that’s trying to solve a legitimate issue in the supplement industry. I wonder if the CEO was frustrated with his own stack and created this company in hopes that it would solve this issue for others and make a lot of money in the process.
Although the research is solid, everyone’s body chemistry is different and many people react to the same supplement differently. Two people could submit the online questionnaire with the same exact answers and react differently to Persona’s recommendations. This uniqueness takes something away from the idea, as brilliant as it is.
The pricing is generally high after the introductory 30% discount for the first month wears off. Also, when signing up for the subscription, it’s not clear that the 30% discount is introductory. Obviously you’re paying a premium for the personalization, but it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth it.
Who is Persona Best For?
Persona is best for people who:
- Have specific medical issues they’re looking to address
- Want to optimize their health
- Take prescription medications
- Are looking for the convenience of a complete, personalized supplement stack
- Are new to supplements
- Have been taking supplements for a while, but aren’t satisfied with the results they’re getting
- Can afford to pay a few dollars per month for supplements (and extra for convenience)
- Have had bariatric surgery
They have 4.4/5 stars on trustpilot.com, with people saying they’re feeling better and improving with respect to their specific health concern(s). One reviewer said she likes that the packages have her name and their contents on them. There was resounding praise for Persona’s customer service. The CEO personally responded to praise and criticism alike. He replied to people who criticized them by saying a company rep would reach out to them to resolve the issue. Many companies tell people to call their toll-free number and in some cases even deflect criticism. One person pointed out that the price is only introductory and goes up significantly after the first order. There was a lot of positive feedback for drastic improvement with respect to sleep. Some reviewers did mention an unpleasant aftertaste was repeating on them throughout the day. One reviewer said he felt less energy during the day, experienced insomnia at night and never heard from the rep the CEO said would be reaching out to him.
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Care/of is another popular personalized supplement company, but their online questionnaire is generic compared to Persona’s. Persona blows them out of the water.
If you have specific health concerns and/or want to optimize your health and can afford to pay more for your supplements, give Persona a shot. At the very least, they may help you gain some clarity on your stack.