6 min Read – Over the years, nutritional supplements have steadily been added to our daily regimen. Recommendations from doctors & research have led to a handful (literally) of capsules. With an eye to staying energetic & healthy, supplements are part of our lifestyle solution.
We still believe a balanced diet, exercise & good sleep are the pillars of a healthy lifestyle. However, our subsequent use of nutritional supplements has grown. It wasn’t until recently that we noticed that the cost of our supplements had become a significant line item in our budget! We needed a review of our nutritional supplements.
So, What do We Need to Know?
- How much are we spending on supplements?
- How can we reduce supplement costs?
- Are we taking the right supplements?
- Have our needs changed?
A week long research project led to saving a lot of money, dropping a few supplements & adjusting dosage. All positive steps from our point of view!
Today’s article isn’t designed to pitch supplements. It’s really more about taking the time to periodically review what you’re taking, do the research and adjust accordingly…. & save some money in the process! We don’t have a relationship with the companies mentioned.
First, Get Some Advice
Speak with your doctor & perhaps a nutritionist. They can really help with your supplement strategy. It seems as though the medical profession has come around on nutritional supplement use, bridging that gap between Western & Eastern medicine.
Knowing your doctor’s take on supplements, paired with a blood panel should help steer you in the right direction. We get a full blood panel at least once a year, to see where our baseline sits; see what actually needs a boost.
Time for a change?
It seems like supplement routines need a refresh from time to time, as we age & our medications change. Any potential interactions with medications you take? This is always worth a discussion.
FDA regulates supplements as food, not medications.
It’s important to remember that the FDA doesn’t regulate supplements as researched medications, but rather as food. The job of determining if supplements are good for your use, and the types of medications you take falls with us. We need to do the research and work with our doctors to determine what’s beneficial & what’s not.
From the FDA:
“Dietary supplements are regulated by the FDA as food, not as drugs. However, many dietary supplements contain ingredients that have strong biological effects which may conflict with a medicine you are taking or a medical condition you may have. Products containing hidden drugs are also sometimes falsely marketed as dietary supplements, putting consumers at even greater risk. For these reasons, it is important to consult with a health care professional before using any dietary supplement.”
How to Save Money – Painful, yet Worthwhile Research
Not going to sugar coat this one. Comparing brands, finding the retailers that carry the supplements we like & determining the monthly cost is time consuming. Off & on, it took us about a week to pull all the information together.
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That said, our efforts cut our monthly expenditure by 58%, without sacrificing the quality of our choices.
Why is it So Time Consuming?
How Much are We Spending Now?
Bev noticed in her monthly budget review (the girl’s a big Quicken fan!) that supplements were starting to add up. That led to pulling a list of all the supplements we’re taking and getting the true costs. When we isolated the supplements from our monthly expenses, it amounted to hundreds of dollars. Inspiration for articles are always around the next corner. 🙂
Picky Regarding Manufacturers
It’s easy to google “Vitamin C for sale” and get 1000 potential options. Since we prefer specific National manufacturers, like Nature Made, Klaire Lab, Now, Pure, Kirkland etc… you need to sift through and pick out the retailers that offer the brands you like, for comparison. So it takes longer.
Right or wrong, we feel national brands are better regulated. In addition to being blessed by the FDA (as food), national brands tend to be certified organic, absent of fillers, soy, sugars etc… They are also typically offered through larger retailers, that are also more discriminating about what they’re willing to sell.
Finding The Right Dose at the Right Cost
Once we decided which manufacturers to compare, it was time to find the best cost. Comparing one supplement with another comes down to unit cost, dosage and quantity… which again, takes time.
I’ll use Ubiquinol 200mg as an example of a supplement we both take. Here’s 3 options we found:
- Whole Foods – Jarrow Brand 200Mg, $36.99, 60 capsules, .62 cents per capsule
- Amazon – Jarrow Brand 200mg, $32.99, 60 capsules, .55 cents per capsule
- Costco – Qunol Brand 100mg, $27.99. 120 capsules, .23 cents per capsule
The first calculation is easy. Jarrow Brand at Amazon is cheaper than Whole Foods. That doesn’t mean Whole foods won’t run a future sale on Jarrow Brand. However, they come in 2nd for now. But is that the best price?
The second calculation requires a few more steps. Qunol Brand is much cheaper than Jarrow brand, but has ½ as many MG’s per capsule. So we would need to take two instead of one capsule, each day.
So an “Apples to Apples” monthly cost comparison would be:
Amazon: Jarrow Brand, taking 30 Capsules @ .55 per capsule = $16.50 per month
Costco: Qunol Brand, taking 60 capsules @ .23 per capsule = $13.80 per month
By adding one more capsule to the routine, Qunol is 17% cheaper than Jarrow, from Amazon.
It’s also 40% cheaper than our original brand!
So Costco, Qunol is our big winner here!
Now we need to repeat the process for each supplement.
Did I mention the big savings at the end, if you go through the process?
We didn’t find a single source to save money 🙁
In the perfect world, I’d report back that a single store or online retailer works for all our supplement needs. What we found was a combination of multiple sources, both online and local grocery stores to get the best pricing. Often, the exact same supplement’s pricing varies significantly from store to store. As store’s run periodic promotions, having a couple buying options for each supplement might make sense.
We found our best deals at:
Lazy Acres (local market)
Since we routinely shop with these retailers, it’s not going out of our way pick up a supplement or go online, when we run out.
Keep a List Handy
Half the battle to getting the right price is knowing how much you normally pay. Before our research, we’d just grab the bottle off the shelf (or online) with little regard to what we paid last time
Keeping a list of the supplements & the price you paid, let’s you know if you’re getting a good deal. We use Microsoft To Do on our phones. The shared list is always handy and can be updated on the fly. Our list includes:
- The brand(s) we like
- the retailer(s) that carry it
- The best price we’ve paid to date.
It’s a quick way to insure you’re getting the best deal, each time.
Buy Bulk Sizes
Having to replenish a nutritional supplement every 30 days isn’t just annoying. It may also not be the most cost effective. Most of the supplements we take have long shelf lifes. Finding the larger bottle is often a less expensive option.
Research your Supplements
If it’s been awhile, it’s worth doing research to see what your supplements benefits, any drug interactions. Having a chat with your doctor is still your best bet, but there are several sites that offer updated information. As time goes by, our nutritional supplement needs evolve. The multivitamin you took in your 30’s might not line up with your needs now.
Here’s a Few Research Sites that might be helpful:
Although the process of researching nutritional supplements was time consuming, it was worth the effort. In addition to saving $1000.00 a year, taking a closer look at which supplements we were taking was overdue. Given our age, we adjusted the dosage on a few supplements.
After an annual blood test, two supplements were also pulled out of the daily routine. One was now considered a hindrance to a medication and another was deemed unnecessary. A yearly review probably makes sense, to continue to refine the list.
Finally, having a handy list of your nutritional supplements, including recent pricing & a few sources to purchase will let you stay on track.
You might also enjoy our story on… “Creating a Cozy Deck Oasis”
For a Good Nights Sleep
Melatonin from Natures Bounty provides a natural hormone for a good nights sleep. On those occasional sleepless nights, Melatonin helps me settle in and drift off to sleep. An expensive and safe way to get those crucial 8 hours of rest!