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Where to Keep and Not to Keep Your Supplements

Nov 18, 2010 05:30 AM EST

If you are like most people, you keep your supplements either in the bathroom (in the medicine cabinet or on the counter) or in the kitchen (next to/above the sink or stove). But those are actually the worst places if you want to preserve the maximum effectiveness of the nutrients.

Humidity is the biggest enemy of pills, and the most humid areas of the home are the bathroom and around the kitchen sink and stove, thanks to the steam from hot water. And keeping the containers in an enclosed cabinet in these areas doesn’t offer protection as the moist air still gets into the space.

Even with bottle lids kept on tightly, some nutrients in the supplements can degrade, or lose their potency if exposed to humid conditions for long or frequent periods. They may start to turn very dark or become quite soft if they have become too damp. Vitamin C, some forms of B vitamins and other water soluble vitamins are most susceptible to these effects.

Heat and direct light can also damage supplements, especially fish oil/omega-3 fatty acids, so areas next to or above the oven and in front of windows should also be avoided. Safety is another concern if children are in the home, even as visitors. Many nutrients can be toxic to children in large amounts, so treat supplements as you would over-the-counter medications.

So where is the best place to keep your supplements? Experts recommend taking them out of the bathroom altogether and finding a cool, dark place away from humidity, high enough where children can’t reach them. Even though some kitchen areas are off-limits, there are probably still a number of cupboards in most kitchens that would be suitable. The bedroom, closet or linen cabinet are also options.

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If you find it too hard to remember to take supplements daily if they are not visible, you may want to take out small batches, fill a weekly pill container (marked for each day), keep those in a more convenient location, and store the rest in a dark, cool spot.

The individually sealed packets of Basic Nutrient Support provide enhanced protection against heat and humidity as they aren’t opened until they are used. However, you still may want to take out just the number of packets you need for the week and keep the rest stored in a more climate controlled location.

Dr. Reginald B. Cherry (drcherry.org) is a member of the American Medical Association, Texas Medical Association, Harris County Medical Society, and the American College of Preventive Medicine. Dr. Cherry has authored numerous articles on Preventive Medicine, emphasizing nutrition and exercise. He also speaks extensively on these topics nationwide and conducts numerous seminars for various groups and organizations. Currently, his weekly television program reaches 80 million homes. www.thepathwaytohealing.com

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