What is a ‘confetti formula’ and can it impact the effectiveness of your supplements?

IMAGE VIA @vitablevitamins/INSTAGRAM

Words by Kate Streader

“While the idea of a standard multivitamin is good in theory, all of us have different needs, goals, diets and lifestyles.”

If you’ve ever dabbled in taking vitamins or supplements, I probably don’t have to tell you how confusing it can be trying to figure out which ones you should be taking, which ones are a waste of money, what dosages you need, which ones become dangerous if you take too much, which supplements aid the absorption of other supplements… you catch my drift. 

And while you probably haven’t encountered the term ‘confetti formula’ while searching for supplements, you’ve very likely stumbled across a number of confetti formulas without knowing what they are or why you should avoid them. 

For more content like this, browse through our Life section.

Nutrition can be tricky to navigate, especially when the internet tends to be full of conflicting advice, so I sought the expertise of health and wellness enthusiast and the co-founder of Australian personalised vitamin service Vitable, Larah Loutati, to get some answers. 

As Larah explains, “A confetti formula refers to when ingredients are included in a product in amounts that don’t actually offer the potency to have an effect – sprinkled in like confetti in doses too low to give the claimed results.

“This would be a generic multivitamin that contains a very long list of active ingredients – and that is very likely to contain ingredients that you don’t need or not enough of the ingredients that you actually need because there is not enough space in one tablet to fit the good stuff,” she adds. 

So, if you’re taking a single supplement that has a long list of impressive ingredients or purports to meet an unbelievable amount of health requirements, chances are it’s a confetti formula. 

“[A] one-size-fits-all approach to supplementation is outdated. While the idea of a standard multivitamin is good in theory, all of us have different needs, goals, diets and lifestyles,” says Larah. “Combination supplements usually contain lower doses to fit a longer ingredient list into a capsule at reduced strengths that can make it hard to work.”

Not only do confetti formulas opt for quantity over quality, but they can contain a lot of filler ingredients that you don’t actually need. While Larah believes we should try to meet our nutrition needs through our diets, rather than relying on supplements, she acknowledges this isn’t always possible – particularly if you have food intolerances, a plant-based diet, or other lifestyle factors. 

“Stress, which is sadly prominent in modern society, has been shown to deplete key nutrients in the body like B vitamins,” explains Larah. “Smoking and drinking affect the absorption of key vitamins and minerals, as well.”

Larah also points out that, “Australia has naturally quite nutrient-poor soil, made worse with intense agricultural practices, which can also reduce the amount of nutrients available in fruits and vegetables.”

If you’re someone who doesn’t get essential vitamins and minerals through your diet, Larah recommends opting for a personalised approach to finding and bridging these gaps instead of taking a general multivitamin. 

“By attempting to cater to everyone, most of the confetti formulas/generic multivitamins you find in supermarkets and grocery stores don’t have the ability to truly benefit every single person – chances are, you don’t really need half of what is in your generic brand multivitamin – and what you do need might not be in there,” she explains. 

Not only can vitamin and mineral deficiencies affect how you feel, but they can impact how you look. So if you’ve perfected your skincare routine to a fine art but still suffer from, say, dry skin, you might need to reassess what you’re putting in your body, not what’s going on your face. 

“Getting the right amount of nutrients is essential for your body to function properly, and this includes skin health,” says Larah. “Taking care of your skin should be an essential part of your health regimen. It is, after all, your body’s largest organ. 

“There is a lot of strong clinical research backing certain vitamins and supplements in supporting skin health and a range of more specific concerns such as signs of ageing, dryness, elasticity, etc,” she says.

For optimal skin health, Larah suggests B vitamins – particularly biotin – especially if your diet doesn’t include gluten, meat products, or whole grains. She also recommends zinc, vitamin C, Collagen, hyaluronic acid (we’re not talking about the serum version you use on your face), and astaxanthin

But, above all, Larah advises seeking input from an expert to find out what your body needs and go from there, rather than wasting your money of confetti formulas that likely won’t yield many benefits. 

Find out more about what vitamins and supplements you should be taking here

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