Vitamin Supplements
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“Vitamin Supplements,” Ensign, June 1975, 45

Vitamin Supplements

“Eat your vegetables. Just think of all those vitamins. Hungry little children in the world would love to get that food.”

Many an unconvinced youngster, forcing down spinach, asparagus, peas, or whatever vitamin-rich food he particularly dislikes, has probably wished he could just take a vitamin pill and have it finished. However, the body needs protein, minerals (such as calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and iron), and many other nutrients in addition to vitamins. All these cannot be supplied in vitamin pills. Trace elements, not yet fully understood, are also essential to the body. They are needed in only minute amounts, but must be present for good health.

If, for some reason, a person does need more vitamins or minerals than a normal diet provides, the doctor may prescribe a vitamin and/or mineral supplement. If so, these reminders are important in storing them:

Tablets—This is the longest-lasting form of vitamin because they are dry. The bottle should be tightly capped and not stored near heat sources. “Keep in cool place” means at room temperature—preferably under 80 degrees F. But don’t put tablets in the refrigerator, because they will probably be exposed to moisture. If you do put them in the refrigerator, let the bottle reach room temperature before opening it.

Chewable—These are very sensitive to moisture pickup. They can even pick up moisture from your hand, so don’t handle them any more than necessary. If they become very speckled, it means they have picked up moisture and lost some potency.

Liquid—These are the least stable. Some are packaged with nitrogen in the bottle so they will keep longer, but this is lost as soon as the bottle is opened. The label often requests that these vitamins be stored in the refrigerator to slow down deterioration.

Depending upon ingredients, vitamin supplements are stable from 18 months to five years. Most packages contain an expiration date, calculated from the time of manufacture and assuming proper storage. Kay Franz, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Brigham Young University