Discount Vitamins and Minerals: Getting The Nutrients You Need Without Spending a Fortune

Many adults may benefit from a daily vitamin supplement because it isn’t always easy to get all the vitamins you need in your diet. The Harvard School of Public Health says the vitamins most likely to be lacking in the average diet are folate, B6, B12, D and E. According to both the school and Consumer Reports, standard, less-expensive store-brand multivitamins are reliable. But consumers should avoid the ultra-cheap vitamins found in dollar stores. They should also avoid vitamins that contain “megadoses” of vitamins, which could actually be harmful at high enough doses. Consumers should also remember that a multivitamin supplement is no substitute for a healthy diet.



Who Needs a Vitamin Supplement?

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, taking a daily multivitamin is probably a good idea for most adults. It isn’t always easy to get all the vitamins you need from food. A standard multivitamin won’t make up for an unhealthy diet. But it can provide a kind of nutritional safety net. Most people don’t get enough of five key vitamins, folate, B6, B12, D and E. The Harvard school suggests a standard, store-brand, RDA-level multivitamins, at a cost of about $40 a year.

Store Brand Vitamins

Earlier this year, Consumer Reports reported that its tests have found major brand-name and store-brand multivitamins are reliable. But Consumer Reports also reported that of 18 brands of very cheap vitamins found in close-out or dollar stores, almost half failed to contain the labeled amount of at least one nutrient. The magazine recommends avoiding the bargain-basement brands, staying away from “megadoses” and sticking with a basic vitamin content of vitamins A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, B12, folate, C, D, E, and K, at the recommended level. If you find several brands with the proper vitamin content, pick the cheapest one. Buying in bulk and looking for sales may pay off. Most vitamins can keep for over a year.

Don’t Overdose on Vitamins

Megadoses of vitamins generally lack a proven value, can be more costly and could even be harmful. For example, huge doses of vitamin C can cause diarrhea. And taking 200 percent more than the government’s daily value of supplemental vitamin A in the form of retinol may increase the risk of liver damage. Don’t pay attention to claims of special benefits, such as helping with weight loss. Such claims typically aren’t substantiated.

Iron and Other Minerals

Consumer Reports suggests supplements that have vitamins and minerals, including calcium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and zinc. Check the iron content because men, older people and most young adults don’t need extra iron. But women may need it because of blood loss from menstrual cycles. Most people need either no iron or no more than nine milligrams per day.

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