Whether taking vitamin C to help boost your immune system, or a capsule of oil of oregano to help combat pesky allergies, vitamins have become a part of everyday life. But when you choose the take your vitamins, you want them to work properly. Be sure to check the expiration date on the bottle before you crack it open.
The ingredients in vitamins break down over time, thereby changing the strength or potency of the vitamins themselves. Taking vitamins after their expiration date will not have the same effect as taking a newer vitamin. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) does not require manufacturers of vitamins, also called supplements, to list an expiration date on their labels, so examine the packaging when buying your vitamins to see that it includes the all-important expiration date.
Not all vitamins will have the same shelf life. Different kinds of vitamins break down faster than others, and various ways of processing the vitamins affect their shelf life. Therefore, it is crucial to rely on vitamins that list their expiration date on the packaging and to abide by said date.
Even though expired vitamins do not harm the body by becoming toxic or poisonous, the desired effect of a vitamin will not be produced because the ingredients break down and the benefits become weaker over time.
The way you store your vitamins can affect a vitamin's shelf life as well. Store your supplements in a cool, dark location, such as a medicine cabinet in a temperature-controlled home. Excessive heat or moisture, for instance, can speed up the breakdown of ingredients in vitamins, making them expire sooner than what is posted on their label.
Consult with your physician before you begin any new vitamin regime, as she will be aware of any possible interactions with medications you are taking currently. Keep your doctor up to date when you stop taking vitamins as well, so that if she needs to prescribe medication for any reason, she knows your routine. Also, consider putting that economy-sized bottle of vitamin C back on the shelf and look again at the smaller bottles. They may cost a smidge more at the time, but at least you know you can use it all before the expiration date looms.
- Photo Credit vitamins image by Keith Frith from Fotolia.com
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