Diary / Wellness / Sep 26, 2022
Meet GEM: A Daily Vitamin Made From Real Plants
Written by: Alexandra Perron, Managing Editor
Americans spent over $43 billion dollars on supplements and vitamins in 2017. It’s an industry that is only expected to grow, but it’s also one that lacks serious regulations. For many, a trip down the vitamin aisle often just leads to more questions (how much of this do I really need?) and confusion (what is actually in this?). Sara Cullen felt the same way when she turned to supplements to fill gaps in her diet and remedy the various health issues she was facing. “I had always been skeptical of vitamins, but after learning that I was deficient in key nutrients, I turned to supplementation,” says Cullen.
To say her experience was overwhelming would be an understatement. "It was overwhelming, frustrating, and disempowering. I couldn’t find anything I trusted, so I decided to build my own," she says. On a mission to change the way we think about vitamins Cullen developed GEM, the first unprocessed daily vitamin that utilizes sustainable plants. Below, she shares more about her journey, the benefits of algae, and tell us what sets GEM apart than what you find on your pharmacy’s shelves.
Tell me more about your background…
I’ve long been passionate and curious about how we nourish ourselves. I grew up on a farm in Oregon and studied international agricultural development in undergrad. This took me around the world, working with farmers and entrepreneurs from Morocco to India to Vietnam. I was fortunate to work at the UN and the World Bank and quickly learned of the frustrating bureaucracies and inefficiencies of bigger organizations and policy. If I wanted to make a big impact, I knew I needed to start building solutions myself, not coordinating them. I joined an entrepreneurial fellowship after undergrad called Venture for America where I got my feet wet in the world of startups and building things. I later co-founded my first company, a functional health beverage in NYC, which opened my eyes to our processed food industry and how critical it is for our generation to democratize access to sustainable, healthier nutrition.
What were the issues you saw with the vitamin industry?
It’s strange that we question everything about our food and our face creams yet rarely do we ask where our vitamins come from, how they’re made, and who they’re designed for. These questions deserve fundamentally better answers which is why we built GEM. Most vitamins today are made from bizarre sources that don’t do your body or our earth any favors. Like did you know 90% of vitamin D on the shelf today comes from the wool of a sheep? (GEM’s vitamin D comes from mushrooms.) And most vitamins are primarily made up of harmful additives, preservatives, binders, and fillers like carrageenan, titanium dioxide, synthetic colorants (GEM has zero BS.) Also, so many multivitamins have mega doses of everything. But you don’t need 1000% DV of everything. In fact, overloading your body with vitamins can be harmful. You just need to fill the gaps. GEM is designed for women by women to target the key issues we need from stress and beauty to energy and mood.
What does GEM include that other women’s supplements often miss?
When we think about our “vitamins” we need to think beyond our 23 macronutrients (vitamins C, A, E, D, etc.) and understand holistically the other key phytonutrients and essentials that help play a critical part in balancing our mind, mood, hormones, and stress response.
Unlike traditional multi-vitamins, GEM contains things like ashwagandha, an adaptogenic herb for stress; astaxanthin, red algae that acts as a powerful beauty antioxidant; and chlorella, a green algae that is known for its heavy metal detoxing benefits. Because we believe a true “multi” should contain nutrients that help meet our modern lifestyle needs.
GEM is unprocessed. What does that mean?
In a world of processed food and fake supplements, GEM is the first unprocessed daily vitamin – the only way to get real nutrition conveniently and cleanly. Think about a gummy vitamin — how many ingredients are there specifically to make it a gummy before you even get to the vitamin part? GEM is made with 13 nutrient-dense plants you can read on the label — without all the fluff and junk. It’s designed to give you the nutrients your body needs the most, with nothing that it doesn’t, based on women’s common deficiencies and issues. We’re finding that more than 90% of our customers are experiencing a noticeable difference in their mood, stress, energy, skin, hair, and digestion after taking GEM regularly.
One of GEM’s key ingredients is algae. How did you come to embrace this ingredient?
I had worked with farmers, scientists, and women entrepreneurs all over the world and had learned a lot about cleaner, more sustainable ways to get your nutrition — which is how I first turned to algae, specifically spirulina and chlorella. These are the most nutrient dense plants on earth and the most sustainable.
For instance, 1 gram of spirulina is equivalent to 1 kg of fruits and vegetables in terms of nutrient density. It is ten-times more bioavailable than a steak and is the richest plant source of GLA (essential fatty acid akin to omega-3).
Then you have chlorella, another green algae, which contains over 40 nutrients including vitamin D and B. Chlorella also has heavy metal detoxification properties, is known to support healthy hormonal function, and internally deodorizes (yep, that’s a thing). And did you know that algae creates half of the earth’s oxygen and doesn’t need a lot of space or pesticides to grow? It’s not only better for human health, but the planet’s too.
What is your wellness philosophy?
Wellness is feeling great in your skin, flaws included.