Month after month, as I loaded up both my online and physical shopping carts with various vitamins and herbal supplements, like chromium and calcium and sage leaf extract and alpha-omega-ultra-super-amazing-weight loss-shiny hair-butt firming-energy boosting-skin smoothing-next best thing ever-miracle in a bottle, it occurred to me that, while I insist on buying only the most cost-effective (fancy word for “cheapest”) supplements available, I still may not be spending my hard-earned money wisely.

Eventually, I realized that the health and wellness industry is saturated with all types of products, healthy living tips, scientific studies and personal success stories, all of which tout the benefits of just about every vitamin, mineral, and vegetable under the sun—in pill, capsule, liquid, vapor, inject-able, powder, tincture, oil, patch and spray form—making it virtually impossible to know what supplements, if any, I needed to take to help improve my overall health.

My “budget-friendly epiphany” prompted me to take a good look at the ever-growing list of vitamins and supplements out there and chose the top four options that, by many scientific studies, are deemed likely to be of benefit for most people—particularly those who are as equally concerned about their budget as they are their health, because constantly buying random vitamins and supplements that you may not even need to take is downright financially terrifying.

Here are four vitamins or supplements that may actually be worth spending your hard-earned money on. And please remember, it’s important to check with your healthcare provider first before taking any vitamins or supplements.

1. Magnesium.

According to a health article published by Mercola, an estimated 80 percent of U.S. adults are deficient in magnesium, a nutrient that is vital for muscle and nerve activity, creating energy (ATP), proper digestion of fats and proteins, DNA synthesis and the production of the feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium is between 320mg – 535mg for adults. If you have leg cramps, muscle spasms, bouts of insomnia, high blood sugar or difficulty losing weight, you may be suffering from a magnesium deficiency.

2. Vitamin D.

This fat-soluble vitamin is essential for overall good health, yet only a few foods contain significant amounts of it (like organ meats, certain mushrooms, and fortified cereals), and only skin that is not protected from UV sunlight can produce adequate amounts the vitamin naturally. For these reasons, some physicians refer to vitamin d deficiency as a health “pandemic”, as many individuals worldwide are lacking in the crucial vitamin. For adults, the RDA for vitamin d is between 600 IUs and 2,000 IUs, with the Vitamin D Council recommending up to 5,000 IUs daily.


3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation and lower the risk of certain diseases, including diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, arthritis, and colon cancer. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are most commonly found in fish oil and flaxseed oil, are also important for optimal brain function, cognitive performance, and memory recall. In fact, the list of health benefits associated with omega-3s is pretty darn impressive. The suggested dosage of omega-3s is between 1,000mg and 2,400mg daily.

4. Vitamin B Complex

B vitamin complexes typically include vitamin B6, vitamin B12, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid and pantothenic acid, all of which help with a wide array of diseases and disorders, including anxiety, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and high blood pressure. Vitamin B complex can also increase energy, lift your spirits, improve memory, and stimulate the immune system. Certain unpleasant side effects may occur if you take a vitamin b complex that has more than 1,000 mcg of folate, 35 mg of niacin, or 100 mg of vitamin B-6 per suggested daily dose, so avoid taking a vitamin B complex that has more than these amounts listed.

Ultimately, the best defense against poor health and disease is to regularly eat a balanced diet, exercise, and partake in some form of stress-relieving, relaxing, soul-enriching activity. But vitamins and supplements can be a good addition to your daily routine, especially if you’re prone to nutritional gaps from time to time.

And for your resourceful, budget-oriented, value-loving side, taking the right mix of supplements and vitamins without having to spend a fortune is an added bonus…unless you want to spend a fortune on turmeric-infused snail mucus capsules. That’s entirely up to you.