I was sceptical about supplements in my younger years, and it wasn’t until my blood test results revealed vitamin deficiencies that I began taking supplements more seriously and consistently.
However, my biggest issue with them is that they’re sold in bulky bottles that are difficult to transport around, especially when I prefer to take them when on the go. If I wanted to bring them with me, I would have to pack them in smaller doses myself, which was a chore I didn’t fancy.
For older folks though, this task might be even more challenging. Nabiha Aimi noticed that this was the case with her grandparents, so she’d pack their supplements in individual ziplock bags and scribble on what they contained and when to take them.
Her practice of pre-packaging supplements eventually materialised into an online subscription service, MyVitalab.
With a team consisting of a nutritionist, doctor, pharmacist, and Nabiha herself, who has a background in logistics management, MyVitalab was launched in mid-November 2021.
It’s essentially a monthly subscription service delivering pre-packed supplements to Malaysians, meant to help them simplify the process of choosing and purchasing the ones they need.
The supply is sourced from global supplement producers that are registered with Malaysia’s Health Ministry.
MyVitalab currently offers two different pre-packaged sets of monthly supplements on its site, Vitarepair (RM163.90) and Vitamunity (RM89.90).
The former is meant to reduce inflammation and speed up muscle recovery through ingredients like turmeric and omega-3 fish oil. Meanwhile, the latter is intended to boost immunity through vitamins like Vitamin C and D3.
To keep the pills hygienic, Nabiha told Vulcan Post that they’re packed using a pharmaceutical-grade machine that’s FDA and EU approved for packing medications.
While having your daily vitamins in individually pre-packed sets can be convenient, the mass use of packaging can pose a concern about unnecessary wastage. But when probed, Nabiha shared that MyVitalab’s packaging is biodegradable.
Many may view the supplements industry as a lucrative business, and not in a good way. There’s a misconception that such nutrition can be obtained in food anyway, so forking out additional cash on vitamins comes off unnecessary.
Nabiha agreed, but clarified that the body may only absorb an average of 40% of the nutrients contained in food.
For example, if you want [to get] Vitamin C from oranges, you might need to eat 2kg of oranges. However, it does not mean you will get a [the necessary] 1,000mg worth of Vitamin C from the whole 2kg of oranges because your body only absorbs around 40% from the food.
Nabiha Aimi, CEO and founder of MyVitalab
Nabiha also elaborated that some supplements are better combined to reach their maximum effectiveness, which is why they offer them in pre-packed sets.
What does a doctor have to say?
Wanting to get the opinion of a medical professional (who’s not affiliated with MyVitalab or other supplement subscription services) on the necessity of vitamins, I reached out to the team at Docere, who share verified, jargon-free health info on Instagram to educate Malaysians.
Turns out, there is merit to taking vitamins, with Dr Jared telling us that it is important to not discount their role in maintaining our good health, even though they can be obtained through our food sources with a balanced and varied diet.
“Where supplements play an increasingly important role is in our inability to maintain a well-balanced diet consistently,” he explained. “In turn, that causes a host of issues depending on the deficiency.”
As for needing to combine the consumption of certain vitamins for them to reach their maximum effectiveness, Dr Jared used Vitamin D as an example.
“Also known as ‘sunshine vitamin’, [Vitamin D] is synthesised by the body after exposure to the sun. It helps the body absorb calcium,” he shared. “Calcium, in turn, is needed for the normal development and maintenance of healthy teeth and bones.”
Ultimately, Dr Jared advised that it is best to discuss your supplement needs with a doctor or nutritionist for a personalised regime, depending on your habits and dietary requirements.
So why aren’t MyVitalab’s supplements personalised?
As a consumer of supplements, I’m aware that they’re often prescribed based on each person’s unique needs and health conditions. Hence, it appeared uncommon to me that MyVitalab didn’t have a personalised option like its local competitors, Vitamine and VitaPack.
Addressing my concerns to Nabiha, she assured me that personalised pre-packed supplements are an offering the team plans to roll out in the near future.
“The main reason why we came out with [Vitarepair and Vitamunity] first is because we wanted to educate customers on the basic needs of supplements first, and we want to show them that it is not a hassle to take supplements anymore,” said Nabiha.
The current benefit of MyVitalab’s pre-packed supplements is that they’re more cost-effective compared to purchasing the full bottles yourself.
Taking the Vitamunity pack for example, if you were to individually purchase all three supplements (undiscounted) from VitaHealth, the vitamin brand MyVitalab uses, you’d spend:
- RM115 on Vitamin C with Zinc+ (90 pills for a three-month dosage);
- RM95 on Grape Seed Extract 100mg (60 pills for a two-month dosage);
- RM89.90 on Vitamin D3 1000IU (90 pills for a three-month dosage).
If you were to buy all of them and calculate how much a month’s worth of the three vitamins would be, it’s RM115.80. This is at least 22% more than simply getting a pack from MyVitalab, sans delivery fees.
Of course, you could find lower-cost alternatives as well, depending on individual budgets and preferences.
What MyVitaLab and its competitors have shown is that there is a growing market of more health-conscious consumers who favour conveniently-packed supplements.
Plus, as even the younger generation is now often too occupied with work to properly care for their health, pre-packaged supplements offer an attractive solution. Safe to say, the pre-packaged daily/monthly supplements sector has a lot more growth potential.
Featured Image Credit: Nabiha Aimi, CEO and founder of MyVitalab