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How to prevent your supplements from losing their potency

by , 11 June 2013

When dark spots develop in supplement capsules, it's not a good sign. But this is a common problem when supplements are exposed to one or more of the three thieves of potency: Temperature, humidity and light. Fortunately, there's an easy step you can take to control those thieves. And you'll not only avoid dark spots, you'll also get the highest potency out of your daily supplements. Read on to find out what the best place to store supplements is…

This may be hard to believe, but your medicine cabinet, the one place you’ve specifically designated to store your medicine is actually the worst place to store drugs and supplements.

“Humidity is the primary culprit. After a shower, your bathroom is damp and muggy and humidity like that can be penetrating,” writes Jenny Thompson in Health Sciences Institute.

In fact, Perdue University researchers conducted an experiment to see how vitamin C holds up under various temperature and relative humidity conditions.

What they found was shocking: High temperature and humidity (especially humidity) had significant effects on degradation of vitamin C supplements.

And with cold and flu season in full swing, you want to get every bit of the potency from your daily vitamin C.

The researchers concluded that this “research highlights the importance of considering phase transformations when constructing shelf life models and maintaining vitamin C in the solid state for enhanced stability,” writes Thompson.

That’s a scientist’s way of saying: “Get the supplements out of your bathroom now!”

More specifically, it’s the water soluble vitamins that degrade when exposed to bathroom humidity.

Here are eight water-soluble supplements you need to protect
  1. Vitamin C
  2. Vitamin B1
  3. Vitamin B2
  4. Vitamin B6
  5. Vitamin B12
  6. Niacin
  7. Folate / Folic acid
  8. Pantothenic acid
Of course, a good multivitamin will contain all or most of these vitamins, so your multi-vitamin has to leave the bathroom too, as do any pills in capsule form because they all contain powders.

So where do you store them after they’ve left the bathroom?

Here’s where to store supplements to prevent them from losing their potency

While the kitchen may seem like the next logical choice because most supplements are taken with food and that’s where the food is, it’s not. Kitchen temperatures and humidity are just as intense as they are in the bathroom.

Researchers suggest the bedroom is probably the best spot. And for some bedrooms that might be true. But even there, you’ll get temperature swings. And if you use a humidifier, humidity follows.

The best place to store and protect the potency of your supplements might seem a little bit odd, but it’s your best bet: If your linen closet isn’t in the bathroom, that’s the one spot in your home that probably maintains the lowest humidity and most even temperature year-round. And linen closets are dark, which is a plus because light is the third thief of supplement potency.

And there’s one more benefit. “Visitors to your home might be tempted to take a peek in the medicine cabinet when they use the bathroom. But what happens in the linen closet stays in the linen closet,” writes Thompson.

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