Most of us keep our vitamins and supplements in bathroom or kitchen, but these two rooms may be the worst possible places when it comes to maintaining effectiveness.
Purdue professor Lisa Mauer has found that these locations could increase the risk of deliquescence, in which a water-soluble solid starts to dissolve with the presence of humidity. These chemical changes can zap the shelf life and quality of vitamins and supplements, lessening or altogether preventing nutrient delivery.
“Opening and closing a package will change the atmosphere in it. If you open and close a package in a bathroom, you add a little bit of humidity and moisture each time,” Mauer explained in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. “The humidity in your kitchen or bathroom can cycle up quite high, depending on how long of a shower you take, for example, and can get higher than 98 percent.”
Crystalline supplements and vitamins, such as vitamin C, are especially prone to deliquescence, even when lids are on properly; but each one loses effectiveness at a different humidity level. Some withstand 97% humidity, whereas others break down at just 30%. And once the damage is done, it’s done.
“Any chemical changes or degradation that have occurred before resolidification don’t reverse,” Mauer says. “You don’t regain a vitamin C content after the product resolidifies or is moved to a lower humidity. The chemical changes we’ve observed are not reversible.”
The telltale signs of nutrient degradation include the presence of liquid or brown spots. Mauer recommends throwing away supplements and vitamins showing these characteristics.
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