"What's in your pack?"
Jason Brown, CEO of Persona Nutrition, holds his individual pouch of pills up to the computer's camera. The small, square packet is made of bio-sourced plastic, and the front has a list of its contents, a medley of pills of various sizes and colors. In true pandemic fashion, we're on a video call discussing the supplement subscription company he co-founded that has helped me emerge from my health journey rut.
Let's rewind it back to January. Like most of us - and what will hopefully be the last time I say this ever again - 2020 sucked the life out of me. I felt unmotivated, exhausted and in dire need of a refresh. As I painstakingly labored over my children's diets, I realized how very little I was caring for my own body and its enrichment. If a global pandemic teaches you anything, it's that health is not something to take for granted. My new year's resolution ("to help me help myself") was not going to the graveyard of resolutions past! (Says everyone...)
My first jaunt back into self-care was not going to be jumping on the Peloton express, but focusing instead on what I put into my body. Persona Nutrition came into my life this way, at the right time in a digestible way, even as a self-proclaimed vitamins skeptic who hasn't regularly taken supplements since the Flintstone one-a-days of childhood. What appealed to me most about Persona is that it is not a one-size-fits-all multivitamin company that may or may not take into consideration your gender, age and family history of diseases or deficiencies.
“The brand is personalized nutrition at its finest," said Brown, an experienced entrepreneur and a veteran of the health industry. "Our questionnaire is detailed. It’s deep information. It goes through your family health history, your lifestyle, the food you eat. We’re dedicated to understanding who you are. Then we layer the filters of our algorithm from drug-nutrient interaction, as well as our doctors, to make a recommendation.”
Persona Nutrition is headquartered right here in Snoqualmie, Washington. Brown, along with business partners Tamara Bernadot (Chief Nutrition Officer) and Prem Thudia (Chief Technology Officer), invested a million dollars of their own money, committing a year of research and development, including the assembly of their Medical Advisory Board, before bringing Persona to market in 2017. Since then, Persona has grown by some 300% according to Brown, found a celebrity-fan-turned-spokeswoman in Kelly Ripa and was sold in 2019 to Nestlé Health Science.
I had been using Persona for several months by the time I spoke with Brown and was pleased with the results of my trial: more energy, better sleep, improved digestion and overall feeling refreshed. Brown is spot-on: Persona took the time to get to know my needs, wants and restrictions before putting together my vitamin list. After filling out their questionnaire, I was presented with a solid introduction that would target the key departments I needed most urgently:
- energy (cordyceps, green tea extract),
- sound sleep slumber (melatonin, herbal rest),
- happy gut (peppermint plus, digestive enzymes),
- crystal clear vision (bilberry) and, of course,
- the essentials (foundational multivitamin, omega 3, probiotic)
It may sound like a doozy of a regimen - 11 pills, basically 11 times the number of pills I was used to ingesting on a daily basis - but Persona splits them up into two allotments: Morning and Bedtime packets. The maximum they allow one person is 24 pills in a day, which I was still well under. Since I've been told for as long as I can remember that my thalassemia trait causes a deficiency of iron, I was eager to add that to the menu. But when I went to my online account - another amazing aspect of Persona is that it's simple and easy to change around your monthly line-up with just a few clicks of the mouse - iron wasn't even listed as an option.
It wasn't until I talked to Ruby Deubry, one of Persona's on-staff nutritionists who work around the globe - from Malaysia to Europe, India to right here in the United States - that I learned another incredible aspect of Persona's system: they take into account the medication you are on and remove vitamins that may cause even a slight interaction. This did not mean I couldn't take iron; I just needed to speak with a Persona nutritionist to discuss the pros and cons before adding it. Only once I was fully educated about the decision was my account manually updated to include the iron supplement.
“We do our best to give a moderate dose that is going to fit everyone who takes an assessment," said Deubry, a Washington local and a certified pharmacist to boot. "But having that free consultation to narrow in on things is really important. It makes sure we are taking into consideration your medications. The assessment is free. No harm in taking it. It’s just the tip of the iceberg. Wellness is a lifestyle. We are here to help you with that journey.”
What's the catch, you may ask? The only one I can find is the price tag. You may become enamored with the seemingly endless possibilities that Persona offers (CBD Hemp Extract? Immune Boost drinks? Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies? Yes please!) that you load up your cart only to be presented at checkout with a three-figure price tag for just one month's supply. Yowsas! Fully-backed science, quality ingredients and A-plus customer service don't come cheap, but I found that even if I purchased these supplements individually, the price wouldn't be significantly lower. Knowing where your vitamins are sourced and that there is someone there if you have any problems was, in my opinion, worth the premium.
"The difference between Persona and the rest of the world is that we’re real," said Brown. "There’s nothing in what we do that is faux. Nobody gets paid extra. Nobody gets bonuses. Nobody gets appreciated inside our company for delivering on fake. Every step of the way, whether it’s the education, the information, the quality of the ingredients – all of it is real. Our focal point is to make sure people get what they need to get."
Where does this leave you (and me)? Doing what we need to feel good. Taking my vitamins has surely helped my physical health, but it's also contributed to my overall attitude towards being "healthy". When I feel like I am taking proactive measures like taking my vitamins, I've noticed I'm more likely to follow through in other aspects. I exercise more. I eat a little better. The moral here is not that you need someone to hold your hand and spoon-feed you supplements (unless that is what you want and need). It's that you need to find the programs that are right for you. After all, it's totally Persona(l).
While the products, services, and/or accommodations in this post were provided without charge, all of the opinions within are those of the author and the Seattle Refined editorial board