Incorporating high-quality vitamins and supplements into your wellness routine can do wonders for your body. But just like gym memberships, organic produce and other healthy habits, supplements can be expensive—especially if you don’t know what to look for.
Americans spend an estimated $12.8 billion on supplements, with the average consumer investing $368 per year, according to a survey by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (1). Which is, of course, quite a few hard-earned dollars.
The good news is that, with a little know-how, you can take care of your body while being kind to your wallet. Make sure you’re getting the best products at the best prices using the following tips.
Pay Attention to Unit Prices
Many of us are drawn in by lower prices. But the truly savvy shoppers are looking at the unit pricing, not the final product cost.
Before purchasing that “cheaper” Vitamin D supplement, take the extra time to calculate the price per pill. You might be surprised to find that each dose of the bargain brand actually costs more after doing the math.
Talk to Your Doctor About What You Need
When you go to the grocery store without a list, you’re likely to make impulse purchases and buy items you don’t need or won’t use.
Similarly, supplement shopping can get expensive when you don’t have a plan. Before investing money in vitamins and supplements, talk to your doctor about what your individual body needs.
“It’s always a good idea to speak with a trained health care professional before starting any supplements or vitamins,” says Dr. Jeremy Wolf, a Licensed Naturopathic Physician. “This will help you figure out what products are right for your lifestyle. For instance, individuals who are over the age of 50 require different nutrients than someone in their 30s.”
Buying supplements you don’t need isn’t just a waste of money—it can also be bad for your health.
“While generally speaking most supplements are safe, they aren’t for everyone,” says Wolf. “Some herbal preparations can interfere and interact with prescription medications, so you should always check with your health care provider before starting any new products.”
Make Sure You’re Buying a Quality Product
Not all supplements are created equal. After deciding what type of supplement you want to buy, carefully research the different products available. While you don’t want to overspend, cheaper products may not be worth your money.
Wolf offers the example of turmeric. Although this root offers many health benefits, its active compound, curcumin, is difficult for the body to absorb. More expensive turmeric supplements take this into account, and are formulated with added lipids to help increase absorption. However, cheaper supplements often skip this step.
“Do your research before shopping for a specific supplement,” says Wolf. “Taking your average cheap turmeric supplement may not be doing anything but wasting your money.”
Wolf also recommends looking for products that limit the use of fillers and inactive ingredients. “Companies that go the extra mile to make cleaner products without the unwanted junk often produce more active and quality forms of supplements,” he says.
Use the LV+ Membership at LuckyVitamin
LuckyVitamin offers a membership program that includes an extra 10% off every item, free shipping on purchases over $25, and one-on-one access to a trained Wellness Consultant who can help you choose the right product for your needs. We also carry a lot more than vitamins! With the ability to get a great price on natural foods, personal care, and home products as well, the $49 membership pays for itself in just a few visits. Plus, you’ll save on gas you might have used shopping around at specialty stores to get what you need!
Don’t Stock Up Until You Try It
Not every supplement agrees with every body. Even if you talk with your doctor and do your research, you might need to try a couple different products. Until you know a supplement is the perfect fit, resist the urge to buy in bulk or take advantage of that tempting buy-one-get-one deal.
Find a Great Multivitamin
For those who require therapeutic levels of certain vitamins, minerals and herbs, individual supplements are an appropriate choice. However, if you’re looking to support your body’s daily nutritional needs, a quality multivitamin can be an all-in-one, cost-effective solution to buying multiple products.
“In today’s culture, many of us don’t eat a balanced diet,” says Wolf. “A good multivitamin is a source of a variety of ingredients that can help support nutritional deficiencies that may exist from common dietary and lifestyle inefficiencies.”
When selecting a multi, Wolf recommends looking for products that limit fillers and use the most active forms of vitamins. For example, methylcobalamin is the form of b12 best absorbed by the body, and a quality multi will use this form over the cheaper (and less effective) cyanocobalamin.
You’ll also want to select a multivitamin that’s “user-friendly,” advises Wolf. If the product requires you to take multiple pills throughout the day, you’re unlikely to stick with it and reap the benefits.
Live a Healthy Lifestyle
No vitamin or supplement can replace a healthy lifestyle. The best (and cheapest!) medicine is prevention through proper nutrition, exercise and lifestyle changes.
For example, according to the U.S. Surgeon General, annual health care costs are $2,000 higher for smokers, $1,400 higher for people who are obese, and $6,600 higher for those who have diabetes than for nonsmokers, people who are not
obese, or people do not have diabetes (2).
If you think your health has room for improvement, talk with your doctor about how to make adjustments to your diet and habits. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure—and quite a bit of money, too!