Cheap Vitamins: Staying Healthy for Less
When it comes to vitamins, you can spend a lot or you can look for cheap vitamins. Testing has found that cheaper major store-brand vitamins are just as reliable as the pricier name-brand vitamins. Several organizations recommend sticking with cheaper standard multivitamins products that contain vitamin levels at or near those listed in the government’s Dietary Reference Intakes guide. Multivitamins with huge doses of vitamins probably aren’t necessary and could harm your health - and they often cost more. You also can help keep expenses down with shrewd shopping techniques. But you should avoid the super-cheap vitamins you might find in dollar stores. Tests have found their vitamin contents may be unpredictable.
Vitamins You Need, For Less Money
Most people don’t get enough of five key vitamins, folate, B6, B12, D and E. And most Americans don’t follow recommendations for a healthy diet. A multivitamin can fill in such dietary gaps. But you need not spend a fortune. Rather than more costly name-brand vitamins, turn to the major store brands for cheap vitamins. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends spending maybe $40 a year for standard, store-brand multivitamins with vitamins levels at or near government Dietary Reference Intakes. Consumer Reports suggests sticking with basic store-brand multivitamins that contain the basics: vitamins A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, B12, folate, C, D, E, and K, and minerals calcium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and zinc. It says its tests have shown that cheap vitamins from major store brands are just as reliable as pricier vitamins from name brands.
Keep It Cheap
Consumer Reports suggests comparison shopping to find several supplements that meet your requirements, and then choosing the cheapest one. Methods for finding cheap vitamins include keeping an eye out for store-brand sales, and buying them in bulk. One word of caution, however, about buying vitamins in bulk. Always check the expiration date. Vitamins may lose potency over time, and your cheap vitamins won’t be cheap in the long run if you have to throw them away before you can use them.
Don’t Be Fooled Into Spending More
Don’t splurge on vitamins with “megadoses” and bigger price tags. More doesn’t necessarily mean better. The Harvard school cautions against supplements with more than 200% or 300% of the Dietary Reference Intakes guide. Megadoses of vitamins generally lack a proven value and could even be harmful. For example, megadoses of vitamin C can cause diarrhea. If you take 200 percent more than the government’s daily value of supplemental vitamin A in the form of retinol, you may increase the risk of liver damage. The Harvard school also warns that claims a vitamin mix can help you lose weight or increase your energy is likely unsubstantiated.
But Not Too Cheap
Avoid super-cheap vitamins you might find in dollar stores or close-out outlets. Consumer Reports tests of a sampling of these products found that almost half of them did not contain the labeled amount of at least one nutrient.