Last updated on October 25th, 2020 at 05:56 am
The world of vitamins and supplements is surprisingly complicated. Like many wellness trends that come and go, the industry has had a roller coaster of positive and negative press. And although to this day there’s no clear consensus in the scientific community on overall efficacy, most doctors will tell you that taking daily supplements just isn’t worth it for most healthy people.
Despite this, daily supplements have really solidified their place in the world of wellness, growing into a global industry worth over $120b annually. Things like fish oil, cumin, and B vitamin have become extremely popular preventative treatments for heart disease and MS, and there’s a growing body of research to rationally explain the demand. Modern problems of anxiety, sleep, and indigestion are also often remedied by a variety of widely available (and affordable!) herbs and minerals — whether by placebo or legitimate biochemical optimization, we may never know.
The bottomline is that daily vitamins do make people feel healthier when taken in the right doses, and feeling healthy is more than half the battle. The industry has transformed beyond one-size-fits-all by a wave of personalized vitamin subscription services that acknowledge how differently each of our bodies experience deficiencies.
Prior to personalized vitamin startups, the only way to get a list of supplements recommended specifically for you was to see an expensive doctor or nutritionist. While the number of personalized vitamin startups seems to be growing all the time, each offers a unique flavor and philosophy, and after reviewing far too many, three of the biggest names in the space stand out above the rest: Baze, Persona, and care/of. In this piece, we’ll take a closer look at each of these brands and compare them head-to-head. Read on to discover which is best for you!
How do personalized vitamin subscriptions work?
Baze, Persona, and care/of are all subscription-based services that ask a bit about you upfront to ultimately tailor a personalized supplement plan. The information is given to a team of professionals who recommends a personal daily cocktail of vitamins for you and sends a monthly supply.
Subscription services like these target healthy, busy people who like to invest in wellness, but may not have the time (or passion) to research on their own. They are highly customizable and convenient, offering access to nutrition experts and helping you track progress via an app.
For those with more complex health needs or life-threatening deficiencies, or take a lot of medications in general, subscription services can still work for you, but you’ll need to loop in your doctor and make sure they are on board first.
Persona vs care/of vs Baze: How do these personalized vitamin subscriptions compare?
Each company has a different way of assessing just which vitamins and supplements are for you. Persona and care/of both start off with an easy questionnaire: Persona’s quiz is more in-depth, with drop down menus where you can select from hundreds of medications. The care/of quiz is simpler but still covers all the basics.
Personalized Vitamin Subscription Comparison
|Assessment method||Online Quiz||Online Quiz||Blood test|
|Supervised by Nutrition professionals||✔️||✖️||✔️|
|Number of supplements available||81||31||15|
|Can purchase supplements a la carte?||✔️||✔️||✔️|
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The biggest difference between these three companies is that instead of a self-reported survey / questionnaire, Baze starts out with an at-home blood test (similar to an at-home glucose check). It’s safe and painless — even for those like me with extreme needle phobias — and it provides Baze with a wealth of data they can use to fully customize your vitamin packs.
Since Baze uses a blood test to recommend your supplements, there’s less of a shopping experience than with the other two. All three allow you to select additional add-ons from a wide variety of herbs, protein powder, immune boosts, probiotics, and other fun options though, so if something you desperately NEED isn’t in your personalized vitamin pack, you can always augment a la carte.
Another key difference: Baze and Persona both offer the ability to chat online with nutritional experts, while care/of doesn’t. This can be important for anyone craving a bit more hand holding. To be clear, care/of does have internal supervision from medical professionals, but they are not quite as hands-on for advice as the other two companies.
How much do vitamin subscriptions cost from Persona, care/of, and Baze?
For most of us, purchasing a service like vitamin subscriptions comes down to value. Do the benefits of convenience and personalization justify the cost? And since Persona, Baze, and care/of are all run a little differently, comparing the value apples-to-apples is a bit tricky.
A fair way might be to compare the cost of a supplement that all three companies use: Omega 3. care/of’s Vegan Omega 3 comes in at $18 per month, and Baze’s at $10, while Persona will send it to you for about $6. That’s actually a huge difference!
But before we go writing off care/of altogether, let’s look at another example. Milk Thistle is a widely used herb for detoxing and blood sugar issues. It’s carried by Persona for about $12/month, where care/of’s is only $8. As you can see, overall monthly cost can vary a lot between providers depending on what’s in your monthly order.
Overall, all three subscription services have similar starting prices and monthly costs. The biggest outlier is Baze who charges $99 for their blood test, but if you look at how much a blood test for nutritional purposes costs out of pocket at your favorite medical specialist, that’s actually an amazingly good deal. Such tests are not usually covered by insurance and can range anywhere between $200 to $500.
Furthermore, a traditional blood test will be more painful and take a lot more time than Baze’s at-home blood collection device … not to mention the effort of choosing the right practitioner, and finding the right brands of vitamins after your results are returned. Here’s an in-depth price comparison of Baze, care/of, and Persona:
Price Comparison: Persona vs Care/of vs Baze
|Starting Price||$5||$5||$99 (including first blood test)|
|Typical Monthly Subscription Cost||$10-50||$5-50||$15-50|
|Shipping||Free over $25||Free over $20||Free|
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Variety also comes into play when estimating cost. Think about it: are you likely to spend more money at Whole Foods, where there is tons of variety, or the corner bodega, where variety is more limited? With care/of’s tempting list of extras, it seems almost inevitable that you’ll spend more each month. As an example, they offer quick sticks for boosting energy and immunity at $5- $7 a pop, which could really add up.
But on the flip side, more choice means you’ll have more convenient options to experiment with and keep you feeling your best. For many, that might be a primary reason to choose their service.
With a general sense of how much Baze, Persona, and care/of cost, let’s dive a bit deeper into each company’s offering so have a better sense which is right for you.
How does Persona’s personalized vitamin subscription work?
So if you’re just dipping your toes in the water and not quite ready for the full Persona quiz, you can start there. Choosing “digestion,” for example, displays about 6 supplements that help you better process your food. From there, you can select from the list and add things to your shopping cart a la carte.
For those who are ready to get more serious, Persona’s quiz is as comprehensive as TurboTax, walking you through all major areas of health and wellness such as:
- Dietary preferences
- Daily servings of fruits and vegetables
- Fitness levels
- Weight loss goals
- Sun exposure
- Chronic pain
- Adrenal fatigue
- Chronic skin issues
- Any urinary issues
- Any issues with lungs, nervous system, heart, bones and joints.
Persona’s quiz also provides a link to any of your genetic health testing such as 23andMe.
Once you’ve completed the quiz, Persona cross checks your recommendations against a database of about 850 medications to ensure there are no adverse drug-nutrient interactions. You then build your “cart” which informs your monthly subscription, and finally they’ll send you customized rolls of small white pouches, labeled with your name, time of day, and the vitamins in each pack. Each subscription comes with a bonus portable vitamin carrier, and info sheets on each vitamin and supplement.
How does ordering vitamins from care/of work?
From the light pink background and minimalist type to the non-binary gender option, care/of’s hallmark is its light, friendly marketing:
Care/of’s quiz is a little bit shorter, running about 5 minutes, and has a more upbeat message with large friendly icons accompanying each question. You’re prompted to choose from several categories of health goals, and then asked to answer a few questions about your lifestyle and wellness.
The whole process is incredibly quick and user-friendly. Once complete, care/of then puts together a list of recs for you that you can edit and adjust to your liking. Once you press go, they start mailing your customized vitamin packets. And just like the other subscription services, the care/of app makes updated recommendations for you as you go through their fun and aesthetically-pleasing app.
As a bonus, care/of prints cheerful nutritional tips on their daily supplement packs like “Try swapping pretzels for an apple today. An excess of processed food can feed unhealthy bacteria in your gut.” These definitely tickled me, and I appreciate the detail!
They make it easy to adjust or cancel your subscription, and shipping is free on orders over $20.
How does Baze’s personalized vitamin routine work?
While it may seem more intimidating and complicated than the others, Baze’s blood test might just be easier (and more personalized) than Persona or care/of’s online questionnaires. When you sign up, Baze sends a patented, FDA-approved and MIT-developed plastic device called TAP. Simply unwrap TAP, secure it to your arm, and press a button.
With just a tiny pinch, the device draws a very tiny amount of blood from your arm — quickly and painlessly! From there you merely need to seal it up and send it back.
Once they receive your blood, Baze freezes it and rushes it to a specialized lab in Switzerland for deep analysis.
About a week later, your numbers will arrive the mail, including nine “vital” values, such as Immunity and Bone & Joint health.
At the very end of the report, they give your raw test results with levels for B12, selenium, zinc, copper, E, vitamin D, magnesium, and omega-3. The report provides a clear and comprehensive explanation for how each impacts your health, and highlights area for improvement.
Along with your report, your vitamins and supplements come numbered and in personalized packaging.
Just like Persona and care/of, Baze enables you to track your progress on the go via an easy-to use mobile app. But the biggest advantage of Baze is that you can actually re-test your blood every three months and know exactly where you stand, what supplements to continue taking, and so on.
Your Baze start-up pack includes the blood test, lab analysis, and 4 weeks of supplements. After that, the base level is $15/month, which includes access to their team of dietitians. If your nutrient levels are already deemed optimal after the initial test (indicating that you don’t need any vitamin supplements), Baze will even refund your money! I have no idea how often that happens, but pretty cool nonetheless. And according to their site, over 70% of customers remedy their original symptoms within just three months of taking the vitamins.
When you really think about it, using an online quiz or a mailed device to assess your health and essentially prescribe you supplements is a little bit wild. But it’s better than trying to crack your own biochemistry alone, and these subscription services do offer support from professionals along the way. Aside from that fact, you definitely want to make sure that the assessment methods being used are of the utmost accuracy. Here’s how they rank:
- Persona’s quiz is definitely the most complex. It has lots of questions about a very wide range of health concerns, and goes in depth on your level of exercise and diet (paleo, vegan, and even ketogenic diets are supported). Perhaps more importantly, it provides a dropdown menu of 850 different medications to select if you are currently taking anything, and assesses your sensitivity to 12 common allergens. You can even link up your DNA testing results like 23andme regarding specific conditions.
- Care/of’s questionnaire takes less than 5 minutes, and is more focused on lifestyle and subclinical aggravations and conditions, like fatigue for example. It’s strong point is that it is good at keeping the user interested, even if they are “just exploring.” This means you’re more likely to keep answering the questions and get some good supplement recommendations at the end, even if you don’t really know what is wrong with you or you just want to give your wellness a boost.
- A blood test will always lead to the most accurate data, but actually may provide less data on the whole than a good questionnaire. Baze’s proprietary blood test is supported by years of research, as well as FDA approval. The reason that affordable home blood testing is such a new concept is that, in the past, different tests had to be done for each nutrient. This required too much time, too much blood, and too much money to really be viable. Thus Baze’s blood test method is definitely legitimate and extremely accurate, but limited to about 8 nutrients.
Access to nutritionists
There are multiple convenient ways that these vitamin subscription services help guide you through any uncertainty or confusion you may have about your supplement program. Some of them start right with the packaging: Persona’s packs are organized into time of day based on the way certain vitamins and nutrients are processed and absorbed by your body, and care/of’s packages have nutrition and wellness tips printed on the packaging. Both of these companies also have information sheets on each supplement they send you outlining the research and reasoning behind each product.
Both Persona and care/of also offer instant chat support around the clock through their apps, and if that doesn’t work, they also offer email and phone support.
Baze too offers quarterly assessments with a nutrition expert to review your blood test results and supplementation program, and their entire program is overseen by an MD and two PhDs.
In addition, Baze has a program with interested doctors who may want to use their system with their patients, offering a privacy-protected portal for them to access the latest research, digital and print materials, and direct access to an internal team of registered dietitians.
Any physician who participates in this program can offer discounts to their patients, providing the best case scenario: you and your physician on the same page about vitamins, monitoring your progress in a convenient and low cost way.
In light of all the ambiguity about the efficacy of vitamins and supplements, it’s especially important to make sure these companies are doing their due diligence on:
A) that there are studies that show these supplements work, and
B) that you actually need them.
Persona has been around for a long time, and has built their company on reviewing scientific literature on their supplements. As you shop, both Persona and care/of offer links to the research that supports the efficacy of the products you select. Care/of even takes the extra step of rating the products with symbols to show whether there is strong research, emerging research, or traditional native use, and has zero qualms about admitting where the research is still lacking.
Baze also provides information on its supplements, but only after the initial blood test. While it does a great job feeding you pertinent information through its app, the big difference here is that Baze only provides education on its supplements after it has selected them for you, post-assessment, whereas the other services allow you to fully peruse before signing on.
With 80 different products to choose from, there’s no doubt that Persona leads the pack in its variety of offerings. From basics like Vitamin B-12 to probiotics and things like adaptogenic mushrooms and even CBD, it’s hard to think of something that they don’t offer.
Persona also offers support for multiple medical conditions, and seems to go deeper into those conditions than the other companies. For example, along with its probiotics, Persona offers pre–biotics, containing apple pectin to feed the beneficial microbes in the probiotics you are taking.
There are 13 different products for heart health: vascular support, healthy cholesterol, anti inflammatory, blood pressure support, providing thorough support that can save you thousands of dollars and potentially years of life. By clicking on the prenatal button, you get 9 vitamin options (Calcium/Magnesium with D, Cranberry, B vitamins, DHA with D, Ginger, a regular prenatal, vegan DHA, Omega 3, and D). Lastly, Persona is the only company that offers an entire Bariatric specialty program for those that have had stomach reduction surgery.
Care/of is not far behind Persona in the variety category with its wide variety of herbs, minerals, vitamins, and probiotics. It offers Adaptogenic mushrooms, and recommends Electrolytes and General probiotics for everyone, a power-combo of trending supplements for general wellness. Where care/of is strong is in its long list of extras.
Offerings like whey protein and vegan plant proteins, with all kinds of boosts and quick sticks are hard to resist, and we love that they offer sample packs of these powders so that you can dip your toes in with lower risk.
|Lemon Passion Fruit Collagen|
|Vanilla Oat Creamer Collagen|
|Vanilla Plant Protein|
|Chocolate Plant Protein|
|Unflavored Plant Protein|
|Vanilla Whey Protein|
|Chocolate Whey Protein|
|Chia Flax Boost|
|Chill Factor Quick Stick|
|Dream Team Quick Stick|
|Extra Batteries Quick Stick|
|Gut Check Quick Stick|
|Pocket Protector Quick Stick|
Baze’s offerings are more limited and much harder to mix and match. It’s doable, but you have to email the dietitians directly to get anything outside what the blood test recommended instead of just making changes through the app. Compared to Persona and care/of, Baze seems a little lacking in variety.
Quality, purity and sourcing
All three companies are careful to label their GMO free, vegan, lactose free, and gluten free options on their sites, and each one speaks to how they ensure quality and purity. After all, trusting that their products are pure and of high quality is a key selling point that differentiates them from Amazon or drug store vitamins and supplements.
Vitamin Facts: Persona vs Care/of vs Baze
|Quality assessments||3rd party lab||Internal||3rd party lab|
|Free of Artificial colors and flavors||✔️||✖️||✔️|
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From care/of’s website:
All of our products are tested three times throughout our supply chain. Once, when we receive ingredients, again during manufacturing, with further testing on finished products. This approach ensures our products meet exacting specifications, and that they’re safe.”
Persona has a similar internal testing process, and along with Baze they also use third party testing, which is a really important extra step that they take to show that their products are pure and contaminant-free.
Care/of stands out as being the most transparent on their sourcing, and even incorporates it into their marketing. For example, in the description of their Magnesium they are sure to point out that it comes from Irish seawater. They also take the extra step of using ingredients such as organic brown rice flour as a filler instead of using something cheaper like starch.
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What are customers saying about Persona, Baze, and care/of?
Most of Persona’s reviews highlight the company’s detailed questionnaire that results in a high level of personalization.
Care/of customer reviews reflect the fun, lighthearted vibe that the service provides, along with helpful customer service.
Baze customers confirm that the blood test is indeed painless, and that they offer additional support and information via social media.
The Verdict: Which personalized vitamin pack is right for you -- Baze, Persona, or care/of?
So which vitamin subscription service do we ultimately recommend trying? Each of these three brands certainly has its merits, and which is right for you really depends on what you value.
Are you more traditional, looking for a basic, limited set of vitamins that are backed up by a blood test? Then Baze is probably best.
Are you more looking for a wellness boost in super fun packaging, and lots of optional add-ons to play with? Then you’re probably more of a care/of customer.
And Persona is there for people who may have a few known underlying conditions, or are just looking for a little more variety and in-depth personalization.
While we know that Baze will work for some people, its variety of supplements was too limiting to be our top choice. Perhaps when their blood test method allows for screening of more nutrients, that will change. But in general, Baze is big on scientific research and low on variety and customizability. In their testing, a lot of common deficiencies are left out, and their blood test captures a very narrow range of values.
Furthermore, it is hard to accept that these parameters they test for will be solely responsible for solving, say, sleep or digestion issues. For example, are sufficient vitamin D levels enough for good joint health, especially since they don’t test for Calcium?
Care/of has much better variety and flexibility. However, they generally aren’t the cheapest. As an example, their Collagen powder is over $3 an ounce, while organic collagen powder for $1.75 per ounce from Amazon or your favorite natural foods store. Care/of has excellent branding that emanates a contagious, feel-good energy and an incredible customer experience. But we do find fault with some of their supplements.
Their magnesium, for example, is not only more expensive than Persona’s, but also comes in the form of Magnesium Hydroxide, which should ultimately be cheaper (and can also cause diarrhea). In contrast, Persona’s Magnesium is in the superior Magnesium Glycate form which is more gentle, generally doesn’t cause diarrhea, and costs just $1.50 per month vs $5 from care/of.
Overall, we like Persona best. It has the largest variety by a long shot. And not only that, but they cater to a wide variety of age groups. They offer blood sugar balance and prostate health supplements as well as some of the trendier items like Ashwagandha. We love that they’ve been around a long time as a company and were originally started to help natural health practitioners get reliable and safe supplements to their patients.
Their questionnaire offers a bit more safeguarding from drug interactions, their products are price-competitive, and they offer professional guidance along the way. All in all, we feel that Persona offers the strongest bang for your buck and support, with more variety and personalization.
Hope that helps you narrow down your options! Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions, or drop us a comment below.