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9 Ways to Buy Vitamins Cheap

By Casey Slide

VitaminsI was looking over my previous month’s expenses the other day, and I noticed that I was spending a ridiculous amount on vitamins. Last month alone I had bought prenatal vitamins, multivitamins, several supplements, and vitamins for my baby, which amounted to over $50. Yikes! I am all about living a healthy lifestyle and being proactive in preventing illness and disease, but $50 in one month seems a little steep.

So I did some research and brainstormed how I could reduce my spending on vitamins yet still receive the nutrients that my family needs, and I figured out a way for me to save approximately $150 per year. Here are 9 ways that you can save money on vitamins:

1. Take a Multivitamin

A multivitamin can cover most of your nutritional requirements, so talk to your doctor because this may be all you need. Some of you might think this is common sense, but I had a friend in college that had a vitamin for everything. I went to her apartment one day, and she had about 10 different bottles on her counter, and none of them were multivitamins. I cringe just thinking about how much she spent on all of those! Now I’m not saying a multivitamin can eliminate needs for any other vitamins, but it can eliminate the large majority of them.

2. Go for Generics

If the generic has the same ingredients and amounts per serving as the brand name, then you should be getting the same benefits. Try to see if there are some reviews on the generic you’re considering to know if it is of good quality. You could potentially save a bundle this way.

3. Determine Your Needs By Talking to Your Doctor

Depending on your age, gender, genetics, and overall health, your body may need additional vitamins. I recently went for my yearly physical, and my doctor discussed with me the importance of calcium for a woman of my age who has a family history of osteoporosis. She explained to me that I should be taking a lot more calcium than what is in my multivitamin. So for me, calcium is a supplemental vitamin that is worth taking. However, it is unnecessary for many who are not at risk for osteoporosis. Talk to your doctor to determine your needs!

4. Combine Supplements

Some supplemental vitamins are sold in combination with another. For instance, calcium and magnesium are often sold in combination for bone health. Flax seed oil is combined with fish oil for cardiovascular health. After you discuss your needs with your doctor, see if any of the combined supplements can save you some money.

5. Take Kids Vitamins

When I was pregnant, someone overheard me discussing the high cost of prenatal vitamins. He told me that instead of taking prenatal vitamins, his wife took two Flintstones vitamins. If you compare the ingredients on the bottles of prenatals and Flintstones, there is actually not much of a difference in potencies. Check with your doctor to see if you could substitute the kid’s version for any of your vitamins.

6. Shop Online

There are a lot of vitamin stores on the Internet. Some sites offer free shipping and have coupon codes. Others offer such deals as “Buy 1, get 1 free.” Compare prices and see if you can get some deals. I have seen good deals on Vitacost and Puritan’s Pride.

7. Buy in Bulk

Try buying a three month or a six month supply instead of a 30 day supply. The larger supplies are usually only a couple dollars more. It does not hurt to buy vitamins in bulk. It is not like other items one might buy in bulk such as toilet paper in that there usually is not a problem finding storage space for vitamins! Just check the expiration dates and do the math to make sure you’ll use them in time.

8. Use a Tablet Splitter

If it makes more sense to buy vitamins with a higher potency, just split them into the portion size that you need. You can get tablet splitters at your local pharmacy.

9. Get Your Vitamins the Natural Way

Remember that vitamins come from nature, and there are sources for vitamins other than pills. By being prepared and organized enough to eat healthy on a budget, you can get the large majority of your vitamins. Also make sure to get enough sunshine for that vitamin D. Finally, just because I take a calcium supplement doesn’t mean I don’t also try to eat foods rich in calcium; vitamins aren’t an excuse to eat poorly!

Final Words

Vitamins are essential to our health. They give us energy, fend off illnesses, prevent diseases, and enable us to function as human beings. Talk to your doctor to come up with a vitamin plan. Take care of yourself!

(Photo credit: SOCIALisBETTER)

Casey Slide
Casey Slide lives with her husband and baby in Atlanta, GA. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and worked for a prominent hospital in Atlanta. With the birth of Casey’s son in February 2010, she decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Casey’s interests include reading, running, living green, and saving money.

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  • http://beyonditall.net Carla

    You know, I am one of ‘those’ who have bottles of supplements on my counter (I call them “supplements” because not all of them are technically vitamins – some are oils, herbs, amino acids, minerals, etc.). I don’t have a multi vitamin because there are some things I take I would not be able to get in just one multi-vitamin and would have to end up taking more of a single element anyway and end up taking too much.

    In terms of generics, buying in bulk, etc, I worked with a very good friend who has a business in the supplement industry on the raw material level and that changed how and where I buy supplements. There are a lot of companies that put out products using mediocre ingredients or raw materials. Buying generic isn’t always a bad thing (such as Whole Foods generic brands)s buying name brands isn’t always the best (ie. Centrum). There are certain name brands such as Jarrow, Natrol, and Rainbow Light, that are what I call the “real deal” in the supplement industry though – but yes, you do pay a little more than going for the cheapest of the cheap.

    Good luck with asking your doctor questions about supplements. He/she will either shrug, give you generic advice such as “take a multiple-vitamin” or just tell you not to take anything at all. They are not bad doctors per se, they were just not trained in anything having to do with alternative medicine. Unfortunately over the years, I had to do my own research when it comes to what I should take and not take. I do disclose what I take on my medical records, but don’t I rely on a medical doctor to give me informed information and advice. The only exception is when I had a naturopathic doctor who knew both alternative western medicine as was able to give me information based on that. I know you have to SAY “talk to your doctor” on this blog to CYA, so I understand the advice.

    Buying online is the best way, I agree. There are a lot of companies that offer amazing deals.

    • Casey Slide

      Carla, thanks for sharing your experience. That is a good point that you make about not taking more than you need of an element. It is definitely good to do your own research. I have been very fortunate to have a great doctor who did talk to me about suppliments.

      • http://beyonditall.net Carla

        Looking back at my response, I didn’t mean to come down on medical doctors so hard when it comes to CAM – they are not all like I described above (such as your doctor). I’ve had a lot of doctors in my relatively short life dealing with chronic illnesses and the normal stuff (GYN, PCP, etc), and though my experience with CAM and MDs are not so great, I know they are not ALL like that! :D

  • http://upfromsplat.com Ande

    Great ideas. I used to spend 4 times that $50 you mentioned and recent financial constraints forced me to cut back. I can’t say I’ve noticed any difference in how I feel. So I think taking stock and really noting how supplements are affecting you is a great way to save money on vitamins.

    • Casey Slide

      Wow, cool. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.savings.com/blog/blog.html Stella

    My physician is holistic and is totally into supplements. There’s a wide range of pricing across the internet, so using Google’s shopping search helps locate the lowest price. Personally, I’ve found good prices at Vitaglo and Lucky Vitamin.

    • Casey Slide

      That’s a great tip, Stella. Thanks for sharing!

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