Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice, and is just the opinion of the writer(s). We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to multivitamin use, especially for women seeking prenatal vitamins.
Ritual Vitamins is a supplement brand originally targeting women that now sells a wide variety of supplements and health products. Their most popular product is a multivitamin for women called Essential For Women.
In this article we’ll review the ingredients in some of Ritual Vitamins’ most popular products based on medical research to determine if they’re likely to improve health. We’ll also analyze the results of the medical study funded by the brand.
Clinical Trial Review
Ritual funded a legitimate clinical trial of their multivitamin for women that was published in the Frontiers in Nutrition journal, which is one of the leading medical journals in the world, and one we’re very familiar with because our Scientific Advisor Bryn Sachdeo PhD is a Review Editor for the journal.
It’s a sign of a high-quality brand to fund research that makes it into medical journals.
The results of the clinical trial weren’t especially exciting: the multivitamin was found to increase nutrient levels in the bloodstream.
We already knew from years of previous medical research that multivitamin use can increase levels of vitamins in the blood; what would have been more interesting would have been a study examining whether Ritual’s multivitamin could improve health outcomes.
Ritual multivitamin did slightly increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels, and this marker is associated with reduced mortality at higher levels, but the increase was not statistically significant (52.7 to 54.9 milligrams per deciliter).
This trial is definitely better than nothing, and we applaud Ritual for funding a study proving their product performs its health claims, but we still don’t recommend multivitamins generally because medical research has shown them to provide no health benefit on average.
Ritual Women’s Multivitamin Review
Ritual’s women’s Multivitamin 18+ is well-formulated. It contains well-absorbed forms of each vitamin and mineral.
Vitamin D3 is included because it’s better-absorbed than Vitamin D2.
Ritual includes methylcobalamin as the Vitamin B12 form, and this type of B12 is proven to be more bioavailable than the cheaper cyanocobalamin.
Dimagnesium malate is the form of magnesium chosen. Chelated magnesium is more bioavailable than cheaper forms like magnesium oxide, which is why we recommended magnesium malate in our review of the best magnesium supplements.
We believe Ritual could use a higher dose here: 30 milligrams (mg) of magnesium is somewhat low. Most magnesium supplements contain 100-400 mg per serving.
Ritual opts for the methylated form of folate instead of the cheaper folic acid. This is a good choice, as the synthetic folic acid is a less healthy form of Vitamin B9, and folic acid supplementation has been associated with increased cancer risk.
Overall we find this to be a very well-formulated multivitamin. Every active ingredient appears to be the ideal form, which indicates that Ritual is serious about the science backing their products and has educated researchers on their team.
All of the inactive ingredients are safe and non-toxic as well.
For patients who are prescribed a multivitamin by their doctor, or who need one due to dietary choices or documented nutritional deficiencies, we think that Ritual Multivitamin 18+ for women makes a great option.
Ritual Prenatal Multivitamin Review
Whether or not prenatal vitamins are necessary for optimal birth and development outcomes is still up for debate in the scientific community. An extensive meta-analysis published in the Nutrients journal found the benefits to outweigh any risks for women in low-and-middle-income countries where patients tend to suffer from more nutrient deficiencies.
The necessity of prenatal vitamins for women in developed countries is usually assessed on an individual basis by a doctor. A woman who eats a nutrient-dense, healthy diet free of processed foods likely has no need for prenatal vitamins. However the average patient may have a need, because many patients in developed countries eat nutrient-poor diets.
Ritual Prenatal Multivitamin contains Vitamin D3, which is typically recommended as a supplement to pregnant women because at certain latitudes it’s impossible to synthesize from the sun in the winter. 33% of pregnant women in the U.S. are Vitamin D deficient, and upwards of 80% of women in Northern Europe are, according to a medical review of supplementation during pregnancy.
The same review found that supplementation with 1500 International Units (IU) was effective in raising blood levels, and found an upper safe limit of 4000 IU, so the 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 in Ritual Prenatal is an effective dose.
Magnesium is also an effective ingredient for pregnant women, as it’s proven to minimize risk of preeclampsia and can improve glucose and insulin control based on the findings from the previously-linked research review. However the supplementation dose from the review was 250 mg/day while Ritual only contains 32 mg.
The DHA in Ritual Prenatal appears effectively dosed. This is an omega-3 fatty acid that’s been linked in many studies with optimal maternal and fetal health. The research review found that DHA supplementation reduces risk of early birth, reduces risk of postpartum depression, and improved immunological health of the baby.
The maximally effective dose appears to range from between 1 - 2 grams(g) daily, but considering most pregnant women will likely get some DHA from diet, the 350 mg dose in Ritual appears appropriate, and is close to the European Union (E.U.) recommendation of minimally 450 mg per day from all sources.
Another interesting medical review published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal found that maternal vitamin supplementation during pregnancy may reduce risk of autism disorder in offspring.
Because there are so many individualized factors like diet influencing maternal need for prenatal vitamins, we strongly recommend that pregnant women consult with their doctor before deciding whether or not to take a prenatal vitamin.
A pregnant woman with a nutrient-dense diet, and no dietary restrictions, may have no need for a prenatal supplement while a woman with an unhealthy diet or a diet model with some restrictions like the vegan diet may benefit from a prenatal vitamin.
For women who are recommended by their doctor to take a prenatal vitamin, we do find Ritual Prenatal to be an effectively formulated option. Women who don’t get much magnesium from diet may want to speak with their doctor about a separate magnesium supplement, because the magnesium level in Ritual Prenatal is relatively low.
Ritual Protein Review
Ritual’s newest product line is their protein powders. All of their protein products are Informed Sport Certified, which is a certification that ensures the product has no harmful banned substances. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. has documented how many workout supplements are tainted with illicit chemical compounds, so the Informed Sport Certification is definitely a net positive for consumers, and further signals Ritual’s commitment to high-quality products.
The main active ingredient in Ritual protein powders is pea protein, which is an effective vegan form of protein as it’s a complete protein containing all essential amino acids. The inclusion of pea protein was one of the positives we noted in our review of “is beyond meat healthy?”.
Ritual Daily Shake 18+ and Ritual Daily Shake 50+ both contain natural flavor, which is an ingredient we recommend avoiding, because medical research has documented the potential toxicity in some flavoring compounds. Without the brand publishing exactly which chemical compounds were used for the flavoring, we can’t confirm their safety.
We do expect the Ritual flavoring agents to be safe and non-toxic based on the certifications and research backing the brand, but we still don’t recommend their protein powders for this reason.
Ritual protein products also contain sweetener Rebaudioside-M (Reb-M), which is a novel ingredient without much safety data. A clinical trial found that a similar stevia derivative called Reb-A negatively impacted gut function in rats.
We recommend avoiding flavoring and artificial sweeteners in protein powders for health reasons. Protein powders should have one ingredient: protein. We don’t recommend Ritual Daily Shakes for this reason.