Health & Beauty

Supplement Switch-Up

September 22, 2017

Heads up: the supplements game is about to change. Meet Well Told Health—an organic apothecary that crafts a beautiful collection of body and mind boosters using certified organic food … and nothing else. Made to support everything from energy levels to relaxation, these gorgeously packaged pills are Non-GMO Project certified, free of synthetics, fillers, isolates, gluten and soy, and totally vegan to boot. We chatted with WTH founder Monica Ruffo, whose own battle with breast cancer spurred her to lend a hand in changing the course of the supplements industry for the better. Inspiring stuff indeed. —Noa Nichol

well told health

For those who don’t know, what’s an apothecary?! And, more specifically, what does it mean to be an organic apothecary?

An apothecary is a place that both creates and sells health potions—it’s the precursor to what we know today as a pharmacy. It describes us well because we blend our own formulations, and we also sell them.

We have organic certification, and chose to get a certification that’s compliant with USDA standard because we felt that was the highest standard to hold ourselves up to. We were certified by a San Diego-based organic certification company called Quality Assurance International. Organic certification touches every aspect of our business—from the products we wash our floors with to the way we have to label our packaging. In terms of our ingredients, it means they must all be free of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetic engineering (GMO), biosolids and irradiation, and that we can’t use artificial food colours, flavours, sweeteners, preservatives and many other ingredients commonly found in processed foods.

What was the impetus for launching your line?

Two-and-a-half-years ago I was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer. Like most people when they get diagnosed, I was very stunned by it. There was absolutely no family history that would have led me to think I would get a diagnosis, so I started to question everything about my lifestyle. I had always eaten a healthy diet, so I started looking at my lotions, creams cosmetics, etc., and also at the supplements I was taking to make sure they didn’t contain synthetic ingredients or toxins. My first observation was that I was not able to understand what was listed in the ingredients, so I turned to a pharmacist and they couldn’t figure it out either. I thought wow, this is not OK, and that I couldn’t be the only one to think this.

The supplement industry is huge, at least $26 billion in North America. At least three quarters of the population takes at least one supplement every day. But despite the size of the industry, it’s one that has not really been disrupted, and has remained very opaque. A lot of supplements have relied quite heavily on synthetic ingredients, but people in general don’t really understand the category so don’t ask many questions. And while I do think it’s changing, more and more companies are starting to claim transparency—whether in relation to their ingredients, their sourcing, etc., but sometimes when you scratch beneath the surface, and know what to look out for, these brands do in fact have many of the same issues other companies do. I’ve heard this referred to as “transparency washing,” and it’s something we as consumers need to be careful about, and not use claims of transparency as an excuse not to do our own homework.

Why "Well Told Health"?

We strive to always be “well told” in everything we do because our mission is to demystify and simplify natural health and a whole food plant-based lifestyle. That’s why you can read everything about our ingredients on the website. We try to write it in a way that everyone can understand, all the links to the research are there for more info, and in the future we’re going to be publishing more content on everything from supplements to other topics related to a whole food plant-based lifestyle.

well told health

What is the WTH philosophy?

Our philosophy is that the foundation of health is a whole food plant-based diet, and that you really should be getting most of your nutrients from the food that you eat. The products we formulate and sell are really only things you can’t get directly from food (like vitamin D), are hard to get in higher doses, or work better when combined with other ingredients. We also believe in only ever using the best quality ingredients. All our partners, from suppliers to everyone higher up at the company, don’t make any compromises on those standards. We have a five-step testing protocol on everything we do, and never put any ingredients in our products that have not been extensively researched. And then all that research is available to our customers on our website so they can make their own informed decisions. Lastly, we believe in always empowering and pampering our customers. You should feel special when you’re taking care of yourself, so we’ve injected a lot of beauty into our packaging and include a health tip to enhance the experience.

How will these supplements better our lives?

As with any supplement, you really do have to take it on a regular basis for three to fourth months to feel the full effect because your body needs to find a new equilibrium. It’s more about what’s happening inside your body that matters rather than how you feel. However, with the Energy Booster, for example, you should be able to feel the benefits almost immediately. There have now been a lot of high-performance athletes and trainers who have tested it and feel the difference when they take it before a workout. I personally feel a difference in the morning when I work out. But like an adaptogen (foods and herbs that help our bodies adapt to stress), the more tired you are the more you’ll feel it because your body always takes what it needs. The Relaxation Booster should also help you sleep quite quickly. But in terms of the Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Boosters, you may not feel the results immediately or at all. For example, everything from emotional stress to an intense workout can cause oxidative stress on the body, so the Antioxidant Booster helps the body restore equilibrium, which contributes to the body’s general health (the same goes for the Vitamin D Booster).

These don’t look like regular supplements—the packaging is way prettier! Design decisions were made how?

As I mentioned, one of our philosophies is to empower and pamper. One of my key observations—because I do have background in marketing—is that there’s not really a whole lot of beauty in the supplement industry, and we wanted to change that. We wanted a strong esthetic that makes people feel special when they use our products. Our design inspiration comes from old British apothecaries. For example, the design of our bottles was inspired by what the bottles of potions used to look like way back when in the U.K., but with a more modern feel, and highly differentiated from everything else out there.

What’s your favourite WTH supplement, and why?

I take all the supplements except the Relaxation Booster because I don’t really have any issues with sleep or relaxation, so it’s not the product for me. My favourite one-two punch is to take the Energy Booster before I work out, and then I take the Antioxidant Booster right after to make up for any oxidative stress my workout may have caused to my body. I’ll usually take that alongside a chai matcha latte with soy milk.


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