You may be storing your medications and supplements in the worst possible place

Movin’ out

I just moved. Yesterday, actually.

It always takes a lot of time to get used to the subtle differences in a new place. Closets that are smaller. The TV not looking right where you want it. Or something missing completely. Our new place, for example, doesn’t have a medicine cabinet. There’s plenty of storage space in the bathroom but no medicine cabinet.

Makes me wonder if the new generation of interior designers knows something Big Pharma doesn’t: The medicine cabinet is just about the worst place you can store your meds or your supplements.

It’s the heat AND the humidity

The three thieves of supplement and medication potency are temperature, humidity, and light.

Fortunately, there’s an easy step you can take to control those thieves.

Humidity is the primary culprit. After a shower, your bathroom is as damp and muggy as Miami after a good hard rain. And because humidity like that can be penetrating, Perdue University researchers conducted an experiment to see how vitamin C holds up under various temperature and relative humidity conditions.

The quick answer: Not so good.

High temperature and humidity (especially humidity) had significant effects on degradation of vitamin C supplements.

The Perdue team writes: “This research highlights the importance of considering phase transformations when constructing shelf life models and maintaining vitamin C in the solid state for enhanced stability.”

That’s a scientist’s way of saying, “Get the supplements out of the bathroom!”

In particular, it’s the water soluble vitamins that are most likely to degrade quickly when exposed to bathroom humidity. Here are the eight water-soluble:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Niacin
  • Folic acid
  • Pantothenic acid

Of course, a good multivitamin will contain all or most of those vitamins, so the multis have to leave the bathroom too, as do any pills in capsule form because they all contain powders.

So…where do you go after the bathroom?

The kitchen may seem like a logical choice because most supplements are taken with food. But kitchen temperatures and humidity are often just as intense as they are in the bathroom.

The Perdue team suggests the bedroom is probably the best spot. And for some bedrooms that might be true. But even there you’ll get temperature swings. And if you use a humidifier, well…humidity follows.

My vote for best place to store and protect the potency of your supplements might seem a little bit odd, but hear me out…

If your linen closet isn’t in the bathroom, that’s the one spot in your home that probably maintains the lowest humidity and most even temperature year-round. And linen closets are dark, which is a plus because light is the third thief of supplement potency.

And there’s one more benefit. Sometimes–let’s face it, it happens–dinner guests might be tempted to take a peek in the medicine cabinet when they use the bathroom. But what happens in the linen closet stays in the linen closet. (Hmmm…I still have to unpack the linen closet…)

“Influence of simultaneous variations in temperature and relative humidity on chemical stability of two vitamin C forms and implications for shelf life models” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Vol. 58, No. 6, 4/24/10,

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