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How to Properly Store Your Supplements

Dr. Stephanie Rubino
Senior woman looking for her medication in the cabinet

You may think storing supplements is a no-brainer, but did you know the way you store them can impact your supplement quality? Supplements are an investment in your health. Whether you are looking for ways to tackle nutrient deficiencies or manage specific health concerns, nutritional supplements are an essential part of your health regimen. However, after spending money and time figuring out the ones you need, it’s important to know how and where to store your supplements to guarantee their potency and effectiveness.

Common Mistakes when Storing your Supplements

Do you think the kitchen and the bathroom medicine cabinet are the best places to store your supplements? Think again! Although these locations may seem convenient, they are not ideal. Environments that face frequent changes in temperature, sunlight, and humidity can spoil your medications and supplements, causing them to lose value. [1,2]

Research has shown that warm, humid environments can cause nutrients such as vitamin C and B-vitamins to dissolve, leading to a supplement with decreased quality and shelf-life. [3,4] These changes can still occur even if container lids are kept on properly.

Woman opening steaming dishwasher in the kitchen

Without even knowing, you might be making these common mistakes when storing your supplements: 

  • Discarding the original supplement container. Your supplements come in a specific package to help maximize their potency and shelf life. Removing supplements from their original container can increase exposure to damaging light, air, and moisture.
  • Storing supplements in a bathroom medicine cabinet. It’s ironic but true. Storage in a cabinet is a great idea, but bathrooms are exposed to variations in temperature and humidity throughout the day, making them a problematic place to keep your supplements and medications.
  • Storing supplements in the kitchen. Like bathrooms, kitchens experience daily temperature and moisture fluctuations. Microwaves, sinks, stovetops, ovens, and even countertop space above dishwashers can contribute to increases and decreases in temperature and humidity. 
  • Storing supplements in a refrigerator. In general, refrigerators are full of moisture that can affect supplement quality. There are exceptions to this. For example, certain probiotic and fish oil supplements are often recommended to be stored in a refrigerator. Reading the product’s storing specifications located on the original container or packaging can help confirm this information.

Storing Supplements Correctly is Important

Knowing how to store supplements is critical to protecting your health investment. Exposure to heat, light, oxygen, and moisture can increase supplement breakdown, decrease potency, and alter their beneficial effects. [5] Proper storage will safeguard your supplements to:

  • Retain and prolong their potency
  • Offer maximum nutritional value
  • Guarantee their shelf life
  • Effectively provide health benefits

How to Store your Supplements

Now that you know how and where not to store your supplements, consider these essential steps to maintain the effectiveness and extend the potency of your natural health products: 

  • Store supplements in their original containers with tightly secured lids. Think twice before moving your supplements into a plastic bag or smaller bottle! Supplement manufacturers often use specific types of packaging to protect their products. Opaque or dark-coloured containers help reduce exposure to light, and secure lids reduce exposure to oxygen and moisture to maintain supplement potency over time. A pill organizer or alternative storage method can be handy, especially when travelling, but in addition to protecting nutrients, the original containers have important information that should always be available, such as storage instructions, recommended dosing, and expiry dates.
  • Store supplements in a cool, dry place. Keep your supplements away from risky indoor and outdoor temperature and moisture changes by storing them in a cool, dry place. Storage units in bedrooms and home offices that are away from windows, vents, and heating pipes, are a few of the best places to protect your supplements. If your kitchen is still your favourite spot, keep supplements in cabinets far away from appliances. Plus, think twice before throwing away desiccants commonly found in supplement bottles. Desiccants, such as small silica gel bags or canisters, absorb water to prevent moisture from damaging supplements.
  • Store supplements out of direct sunlight. Similar to changing temperatures and humidity, supplement quality can be impacted by exposure to UV light. Vitamins A, B2, B6, B12, and folic acid are examples of nutrients that are sensitive to sunlight. [6] In addition to keeping supplements in cool, dry places, make sure they are also far away from windows and remain in dark spots.
  • Store probiotics and fish oils in the refrigerator, if indicated. When it comes to probiotics, fish oil, and other perishable supplements, read the label for proper storage instructions. Manufacturers will specify how these products should be handled and stored based on each formulation. [7] Some probiotic strains and formulations that are sensitive to temperature and humidity changes require refrigeration, whereas others that use shelf-stable technology can be stored in a cool, dry place. The same holds true for fish oil products. Although many fish oil supplements available as softgels can be stored in cool, dry places, opened fish oil liquids should be refrigerated after opening and consumed within three months to prevent rancidity.

For more tips on fish oils, check out Top Tips for Choosing a High-Quality Omega-3 Oil.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Stephanie Rubino
Dr. Rubino is a licensed Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine.
References
  1. Gikonyo D, Gikonyo A, Luvayo D, et al. Drug expiry debate: The myth and the reality. Afr Health Sci. 2019; 19(3):2737-9. 
  2. Bailey RL. Current regulatory guidelines and resources to support research of dietary supplements in the United States. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2020; 60(2):298-309. 
  3. Hiatt AN, Ferruzzi MG, Taylor LS, et al. Impact of deliquescence on the chemical stability of vitamins B1, B6, and C in powder blends. J Agric Food Chem. 2008; 56(15):6471-9.  
  4. Vitamins stored in bathrooms, kitchens may become less effective [Internet]. Science Daily. 2010 [cited 2022 Oct 21]. Available from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100302162257.htm 
  5. Capetta A. Should you store your vitamins and supplements in the refrigerator? [Internet]. Livestrong.com. 2020 [cited 2022 Oct 21]. Available from https://www.livestrong.com/article/377298-vitamins-in-the-refrigerator/  
  6. Degradation of vitamins, probiotics and other active ingredients caused by exposure to heat, water, and sunlight [Internet]. Nutraceutical Business Review. 2018 [cited 2022 Oct 21]. Available from https://www.nutraceuticalbusinessreview.com/news/article_page/Degradation_of_vitamins_probiotics_and_other_active_ingredients_caused_by_exposure_to_heat_water_and_sunlight/145924  
  7. Fleishman C. Probiotic supplements: Refrigerate or not? International Probiotic Association. 2021 [cited 2022 Oct 21]. Available from https://internationalprobiotics.org/refrigerator/