Keeping your vitamins fresh and potent longer means thinking like a real estate agent: location, location, location.
And the worst location? Your bathroom or kitchen. Research shows that these steamy hot spots can degrade some vitamins in as little as 1 week.
In a study, scientists tracked two vitamin C powders (ascorbic acid and sodium ascorbate, both common in supplements) at a variety of temperatures and humidity levels. In desert-dry, zero-humidity environments, either form was A-OK for weeks on end. But in hot and moist conditions, ascorbic acid lost 90 percent of its potency in 8 weeks. And sodium ascorbate? It lost 100 percent of its potency after just 2 weeks. Yikes! (Save money. Here are three important things to know before buying vitamins.)
Turns out your medicine cabinet or that pill shelf in the kitchen can get hot and humid enough to harm supplements anytime you take a long, steamy shower or boil up a big pot of water for pasta. So relocate your vitamins to a cool, dry spot -- like the bedroom closet (out of reach of little hands, of course). And if you see any brown spots or discoloration, it's probably time to toss the pills and start over. (Get quality. Read the label when shopping for supplements.)