When trying to cut costs, expensive vitamin supplements tend to be one of the first things we ditch from our shopping list.
As a result, the UK's £396 million vitamins and supplements market has taken a hit, and after years of steady growth the number of Brits turning to supplements to get their daily does of vitamins and minerals is on the decline.
The total number of Brits popping supplements fell by 43% in 2007, and by a further 41% in 2008, according to a study by Mintel.
Mintel found that more people now prefer to get vitamins and minerals from maintaining a balanced diet than taking a supplement, with almost half of those surveyed saying they stick to the five-a-day rule for fruit and vegetable intake.
"As people eat more healthily, they do not feel that they need to take additional vitamins and minerals from supplements,” explains Alexandra Richmond, Mintel’s senior health and beauty analyst.
"The worsening economy has also hampered growth in the market with Brits looking at cheaper alternatives to get their nutrition. For many, vitamins and supplements are considered a non-essential spend," adds Richmond.
But if you do what to up your vitamin and mineral intake by taking a supplement, what are your options to keep costs to a minimum?
Costs of vitamins and minerals vary widely between brands and retailers. Try your supermarket, chemists and health stores to find the best deal on your chosen supplement.
It’s three-for-two on all supplements at Boots at the moment, while Holland and Barrett is offering buy-one-get-one-half-price.
Compare costs by looking at the dosage (in milligrams) and cost per tablet.
Steer clear of brand names
The expensive brand-name vitamins are often identical to the considerably less costly generic or own-brand versions.
Read the labels to determine the dosage and combinations to see if you’ll get the same benefits from the less expensive store version.
Supplements are much cheaper online than on the high street. Simplysupplements.net, for example, offers buy-one-get-one-free with free postage and a price match guarantee.
Healthspan's website, meanwhile, includes a 'deal of the week' section.
Look out for customer testimonials and feedback as although there are lots of reputable sites, there are likely to be some bogus ones too.
It's also worth looking on voucher websites, such as vouchercodes.co.uk and myvouchercodes.co.uk (under the health and fitness category), to see if you can download a voucher to save money on your next vitamin purchase.
Don’t overdo it
Your body will only absorb as much of a vitamin or mineral as it needs. Taking any more is a waste of money as the excess will simply be passed out when you go to the loo.
An outline of the recommended daily allowance for vitamins and minerals is available on the NHS website.
Go for combined formulas or multivitamins
Rather than taking a number of separate supplements, you might get enough of the vitamins required by taking a single multivitamin or combined formula, such as Vitamin C with Zinc.
Buy in bulk
You can save lots of cash by buying the biggest bottle available. Often you can get double the amount of vitamins in a large tub for less than the cost of two smaller ones.
If your local supermarket, chemist or favourite vitamin website has a special offer on your vitamin of choice, then take the opportunity to stock up.
A word of warning though - like all consumables, vitamins do have a sell-by date so make sure you will be able to use them all before the expiration date.