Maximise the effectiveness of your supplements with a few simple steps

You have carefully selected the vitamins and supplements that you need to support your health and wellbeing. They arrive and you are eager to start taking them and make them part of your daily routine. You also want to look after your supplements to make sure they are as effective as possible. Here are Dr Shane’s top tips for regularly taking your vitamins and supplements and storing them safely to maintain their quality.

1. Use cues to create a routine

There is lots of research into ‘medication nonadherence’ – when people don’t take their medication as prescribed. When it comes to vitamins and supplements, many people stop taking them after a certain length of time, either intentionally or unintentionally. Often this is down to forgetfulness or taking lots of products throughout the day.
The answer is having a cue and a task which will remind us to take our supplements. So one behaviour leads to another, ideally within your existing routine.

Here are some examples from Dr Shane and the Bigvits team:

Dr Shane says:

“I take most products with my morning coffee. The cue is making my coffee which I routinely do every day. The task, to take my supplements. When we have both a cue and task, this is the most effective way to prompt a behaviour as it makes clear what needs to be done and when. If we have multiple combined cues, we are more likely to be successful. In the coffee making example, the supplements share the tray that holds all the coffee equipment ie beans, grinder etc. So the task of taking the vitamins and supplements from their bottles is embedded within the coffee making process resulting in 100% success rate for taking them.”Supplements next to a cup of coffee

The Bigvits team’s routines:

“I keep mine in a little Swanson branded pill box next to my toothbrush!”

“I remember by taking mine every morning with my fresh orange/coffee depending on what day it is!”

“Mine are in the bathroom next to the shower so I take them first thing in the morning.”

“I have to set an alarm on my phone every morning because I often forget to take them, I have terrible memory!”

“I have mine in a weekly pill box and put everything I take into the little compartments once a week, so it’s really quick and easy for me to grab them in a morning when I’m rushing around. And I keep them handy in the kitchen, so take them whilst the kettle’s boiling in the morning.”

“I often forget to take my vitamins but my husband is very good at taking them – he keeps them in the pantry and takes them every night – and reminds me to take mine!”

2. Storing supplements for optimum quality

Once you have established your routine, you can try and ensure that your supplements are as fresh and effective as when you first opened the bottles. When it comes to handling supplements carefully, the advice is very similar to storing food because once opened, supplements are exposed to light, air, heat, and moisture which can all lead to the product degrading slightly. To help ensure the product’s effectiveness, we need to take some simple steps. These are usually stated on the product label – keep tightly sealed and store in a cool, dry place.

Keep tightly sealed

You will notice that many supplements are in coloured rather than transparent bottles to protect them from excess light. You might not be aware that for some products the air in the container is nitrogen and not atmospheric air which is rich in oxygen that may degrade the product. So, keeping the lids tightly sealed will help to protect your supplements from potential damage from light and air.

Store in a cool, dry place

If you have found small sachets of silica gel in the bottles, these desiccant packs are designed to absorb moisture, protecting the supplements from moisture damage. Even when the lids are tightly sealed, our supplements may degrade if we have them in our bathrooms and kitchens when there is excess heat or humidity. When you open or close a product in a humid environment you add a little bit of moisture each time. As shown above, many of us take supplements in our kitchens or bathrooms as part of our daily routine. So try where you can, to open the bottles away from excess heat and moisture e.g. before you shower or boil the kettle.

Good luck with storing and routinely taking your vitamins and supplements!

Supplements in a weekly pill box

Author: Dr Shane Thurlow PhD
Coventry University Group

If you have a specific interest or would like to see a particular nutrient reviewed, please email us at Educating our customers about different nutrients and the differences between products is at the heart of what we want to achieve.

This post is meant for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or nutritional advice or act as a substitute for seeking such advice from a qualified health professional. In order to make the blog series easier to read, I have used a conversational tone in many places with personal pronouns, such as “I” and “you.” This is meant only to make it more pleasant to read, and is not meant to imply that the information constitutes any form of advice, whether personal or general.

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