If you search for “best drugstore multivitamins,” you’re going to get loads of results and a multitude of “best of” lists. Per bottle, those vitamins may range from around ~$50 down to about $10, so there are budget-friendly options for diverse incomes. That’s great. It really is. And those vitamins might BE great for some people.
What you’ll find, though, in many cases, is that the best drugstore vitamin supplements don’t always contain the most easily absorbed and processed ingredients. For individuals with conditions that inhibit absorption of nutrients (like those with MTHFR or Celiacs), those vitamins aren’t going to cut it, and when you search for the ones that will, you’ll discover The Cold, Hard Truth: higher quality health products cost more. Fresh produce costs more than canned, organic foods cost more than non-organic foods, and high quality, easy to absorb vitamin supplements cost more than the “Best of”s at the drugstore.
An unfortunate reality is that scores of people feel they have to choose between their best health and their bank accounts. Next time you feel faced with that dilemma, consider these options to make your healthcare–particularly your vitamin supplements–fit into your budget stress-free.
Use Your HSA
More and more companies have gone to a high deductible + Health Savings Account (HSA) package for employee benefits, so if you or a spouse are employed by a company offering medical benefits, chances are, you have an HSA. The nice thing about using HSA money to pay for medical expenses is that your company and you have already set aside money into your HSA, so you don’t have to use money from your personal checking/savings account, which is a relief since that’s the account you use to pay for everything else.
As the Eligible Expenses rules stand, if you have a doctor’s prescription for a vitamin, you can pay for your vitamin with your HSA money or pay upfront yourself and be reimbursed from the HSA when you provide a receipt and proof of your doctor’s prescription. Your financial advisor would probably tell you, though–don’t go crazy with your HSA spending, because a) you can get penalized for using your HSA money to pay for items/procedures that aren’t supposed to be covered, and b) one of the benefits of an HSA is that any unused money rolls over to the next year and earns tax-free interest. It literally pays to have money leftover in your HSA at the end of the year.
Flex Spending Accounts (FSA’s) can also be used for vitamin supplements, but also require a prescription for reimbursement.
Wondering what other expenses are eligible to be paid for out of your HSA?
- This is the official IRS document. Read it if you really like to know the rules/are a glutton for punishment.
But I am not a glutton for punishment.
- Here’s your list. Know that, like most lists, this is not exhaustive, so when you don’t actually see “vitamins” or “vitamin supplements” listed, here’s what the IRS doc says about that:
“You can’t include in medical expenses the cost of nutritional supplements, vitamins, herbal supplements, ‘natural medicines,’ etc.,unless they are recommended by a medical practitioner as treatment for a specific medical condition diagnosed by a physician.”
Use Discounts and Coupons
There are plenty of companies that offer discounts and coupons on their vitamins and supplements, especially if you sign up to receive emails or share their info on social media. And, just like your “10 for $10 deals at grocery stores” you can often find better deals on vitamin supplements when you buy online in bulk. Take your $10 (or more) wherever you can get it.
Know What You Need
Talk to your health care professional(s) about your body and its needs. Get a blood panel to show where you’re deficient and where you’re not, and compare your needs with your dietary habits. If you’re currently taking a variety of supplements, it’s possible that you could cut that number down to make room for one high-quality supplement. And diet is vital to health; finding the right nutritional regiment with a combination of food/drink and supplements has the potential of improving your overall health to a point where you may be able to drastically thin your medicine cabinet inventory.
Your search for affordable health and nutrition doesn’t have to be stressful. Start here.