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Vitamins, if properly stored, will not deteriorate…

Posted Mar 10 2010 12:00am

Vitamin pills are useless within a week of opening, going on to claim that the high levels of humidity in kitchens and bathrooms make them simply dissolve even if the containers are tightly closed. (My italics)

Which is the purest bovine ordure.

To support several severe and chronic illnesses, including COPD and ME/CFS (and for the latter there is no conventional treatment, but my DIY efforts work reasonably well), I take more supplements than the average person. Seven in all. And based on 25 years experience I know that vitamin supplements to not go off if they are stored and handled properly.

And keeping them in a frequently damp bathroom is not something I would ever do – it’s just dumb. I know some people do it – I suspect it’s more an American habit than British – but they really shouldn’t.

By the way, I grew up when even the most powerful drugs were dispensed in cardboard boxes – I learned very early that they had to be kept in a dry environment. It’s not rocket science, and common sense dictates that supplements should be treated the same way.

My supplements are kept in tightly closed containers, in the kitchen cupboard. It’s actually a dead fridge-freezer, which makes an excellent kitchen cupboard (my flat is desperately short of cupboard space), with part of the door seals removed for ventilation – the top fridge section holds all my herbs and spices (and hey, they don’t go off either), plus various sauces, oils and vinegars, as well as my supplements which, perversely, steadfastly refuse to dissolve, and the bottom holds crockery and odds and sods, all in a well-ventilated (i.e., draughty!) kitchen.

As long as I take out a dose and immediately re-cap the container, which I do, there is no problem, and all my supplements stay viable until the batch is finished – usually a month, or two months for a couple of them which are cheaper in bulk. Given that they have a BBE date usually about a year hence, the claim that they’d be reduced to useless mush in a week begins to look pretty stupid.

Without my supplements I would barely be able to get out of bed, despite my drugs (the drugs treat everything but my ME/CFS), so I would certainly be aware if there was a problem with quality. There isn’t.

However, I know several people who NEVER re-cap their supplement containers (you reading this, Rachel?), just placing the cap loosely on top. These are the sort of people whose supplements are at risk of degradation**. Not mine, or anyone else’s who treats them properly.

**And even then, in one case in a cold, damp house, they conspicuously failed to dissolve.

And the claim that supplements deteriorate even when stored in tightly-closed containers is a crock. I have some quite potent drugs in packaging very similar to my supplements. Logic suggests that if supplements deteriorate to uselessness in a week (or, FFS, dissolve!), drugs should be affected too.

That they’re not shows the idiocy of these claims.

Incidentally, for the sake of completeness, let me say that used to take my supplements on camping trips, when I was more mobile, and a tent, especially early in the morning before the sun dries it out, is about as damp an environment as you could wish for. My supplements never came to any harm.

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