Finding The Right Home For Vitamins, Supplements

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Where is home for your vitamins, minerals, and other supplements? Is it the kitchen cabinet, maybe with the oatmeal and peanut butter? How about the bathroom cabinet, possibly next to the toothpaste and dental floss? Or, perhaps it's your office desk, amidst your personal items and stash of granola bars and M&Ms for those rainy days when you just don't feel like going out for lunch.

The "Life...supplemented" consumer wellness campaign wanted to find out, and the campaign's Healthcare Professionals (HCP) Impact Study, which evaluated the personal attitudes and use of dietary supplements by healthcare professionals, provided some of the answers. According to the study, doctors and nurses are storing their vitamins and other supplements in the kitchen cabinet -- 59% for doctors and 66% for nurses -- in comparison to other household locations. The bathroom cabinet took a distant second place, with 25% of doctors and 27% of nurses reporting their supplements were shelved there.

"It's best to store your supplements in a place where you'll remember to take them," said Donnica Moore, M.D., president of the Sapphire Women's Health Group and a consultant to the "Life...supplemented" campaign. "The best results come from consistent, long-term use unless otherwise instructed. By keeping your vitamins and other supplements in the kitchen, you associate them with meals and are more likely to remember to take them. Plus, you don't want to take your supplements on an empty stomach."

Even though many people do store their vitamins in their bathroom cabinets, it is not recommended. Humidity from a hot shower or even from the sink will likely seep in, accelerating degradation and eventually rendering them ineffective. Heat and light can do the same, so keep them away from bright lights, a hot oven range, and heating vents.

So then how should you store supplements? Below are six tips from the "Life...supplemented" campaign:

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-- Keep them in a cool, dry place away from windows or places affected by outdoor weather. Remember the moisture factor! Make sure they are kept away from heat and steam when cooking.

-- Try to avoid places that are easily reached by children, like a low cabinet or in the refrigerator.

-- Keeping them in the kitchen is fine, but the idea is convenience. Store them in a place that you frequent so you will remember to take them regularly.

-- Generally, it is better to take vitamins and other supplements with food or a short time after a meal, so it also makes sense to keep them in a place that is near your preferred eating location.

-- Pay close attention to the expiration date listed on the package. Bottles can often be kept behind each other or be obscured by other items in a cabinet, making them easy to forget about. Be sure to check the labels on a regular basis. If any are past the expiration date, discard the product and get new ones.

-- When traveling, consider storing your supplements in a small pill box or container. These can fit easily in a briefcase, travel bag or purse and will help ensure you take your supplements even when on the road.

The other household locations where health care practitioners store their supplements are: the kitchen counter (13% doctors, 14% nurses); the bathroom counter (11% doctors, 7% nurses); the refrigerator (8% doctors, 14% nurses); desk in office (6% doctors, 12% nurses); their night table (3% doctors, 7% nurses); their desk at home (3% doctors, 1% nurses); and their purse (1% nurses).

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