Supplement TLC

Proper storage and dosage for full benefits

Supplement TLC

You've bought a bottle of herbs or supplements. But how should you store them? Follow our guide to learn how to store and how to take popular herbs and supplements.

With new research published almost daily about the benefits of natural health supplements, now more than ever people are taking a wide array of vitamins and herbs. However, how to store and how to take nutrients are important for reaping full health benefits—just as important as the nutrients you choose to take.

Here are a few tips for storing and using some of the most widely consumed supplements.

Fish oil

What it does
As probably one of the most important supplements for healthy aging, omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil have been shown to protect cardiovascular function and encourage fetal development.

Medical researchers at the State University of New York found that supplementing with 465 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 375 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) could considerably improve triglyceride levels in most patients.

StorageEncapsulated fish oil can be stored at room temperature; however, liquid forms should be kept in the refrigerator.

Dosage
Recommendations vary from 1 to 4 g per day. Dividing the intake ensures ideal absorption.

Multivitamin

What it does
Multivitamins are among the most commonly taken supplements and provide the foundation of necessary vitamins and minerals the body needs for healthy functioning.

Storage
Keep tightly closed in a dry place at room temperature.

Dosage
One-a-day multivitamins should be taken with a meal—preferably breakfast—to help break down and absorb all the nutrients.

Glucosamine sulphate

What it does
Backed by research, glucosamine sulphate is one of the most effective supplements for joint pain and stiffness.

Storage
Keep tightly closed in a dry place at room temperature.

Dosage
Recommended dosage of 1,500 mg per day is best divided and taken throughout the day for optimal absorption.

CoQ10

What it does
Research has shown that those taking statin medications such as Lipitor to reduce cholesterol have a marked decrease in coenzyme Q10, a naturally occurring antioxidant in the body. CoQ10 is quickly becoming a well-known supplement for heart health.

Storage
As a potent antioxidant, CoQ10 is prone to rapid oxidation when exposed to air, hence capsules are the best form of delivery. Keep tightly closed in a dry place at room temperature.

Dosage
Divided doses of 30 mg three times per day with food ensures optimal absorption.

St. John’s wort

What it does
An analysis of 29 clinical trials involving more than 5,000 patients with major depression revealed St. John’s wort extract had similar efficacy to standard antidepressants with far fewer side effects.

Storage
Keep tightly closed in a dry place at room temperature.

Dosage
For moderate depression, St. John’s wort extract standardized to 0.3 percent hypericin content, taken three times daily is effective.

Caution
A major consideration when taking St. John’s wort is its potential reaction with other antidepressants and heart medications.

Ginkgo biloba

What it does
A herb with potent effects on blood flow, Ginkgo biloba is widely used as a memory and concentration enhancer. Ginkgo has also been studied for its potential in treating dementia.

Storage
Keep tightly closed in a dry place at room temperature.

Dosage
A trial published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry in 2010, found ginkgo effective at treating mild to moderate dementia at a single dose of 240 mg daily.

Garlic

 What it does
With a multitude of benefits for heart health and the immune system, researchers are just starting to unveil the power of garlic. An exciting study in January of this year found that garlic can inhibit gastric cancer cell growth, which may be attributed to its antioxidant and immunomodulative effects.

Storage
Keep tightly closed in a dry place at room temperature.

Dosage
Divided doses of 1,200 mg of garlic extract over three times per day offer best results for blood pressure reduction.

Acidophilus

What it does
Lactobacillus acidophilus is a group of bacteria commonly known as probiotics, which has been shown to improve bowel irregularity and prevent traveller’s diarrhea as well as antibiotic-related issues.

Storage
To maintain shelf life, most probiotic supplements are best stored in the refrigerator.

Dosage
For healthy intestinal functioning, take 5 to 10 billion colony-forming units per day. To combat the effects of antibiotics, take after the course of antibiotics is completed to recolonize the intestinal tract.

Echinacea

What it does
Most commonly known for its immune-boosting properties, echinacea can be found in most households, especially during the fall and winter months. While many types of echinacea exist, taking a standardized extract of Echinacea purpurea seems to have considerable benefits.

Storage
Store in a cool, dry place.

Dosage
Herbalists often recommend taking echinacea every three hours with a total daily dose of three or more grams per day at the first sign of symptoms.

Vitamin C

What it does
Vitamin C confers a multitude of benefits such as wound healing, immune health, and antiaging. As vitamin C is a key nutrient in collagen synthesis, interest in wrinkle prevention has led to an influx of topical vitamin C products.

Storage
Delivered in many forms, vitamin C is sensitive to degradation. While chewable tablets should be kept away from moisture, vitamin C serums and cremes used for antiaging can break down quickly if exposed to air, hence pump bottles are the best methods of preserving effectiveness.

Dosage
An oral dosage of at least 200 mg per day is needed to acquire immune-boosting benefits.

Storing supplements—dos and don’ts

Do

  • refrigerate acidophilus, liquid fish oil, and greens to prolong longevity

Don’t

  • store supplements in a bathroom cabinet—one of the worst places to keep vitamins—where heat and moisture are prevalent
  • expose supplements to moisture, which can quickly cause degradation of vitamins and herbal products
  • store supplements in a cabinet above the stove, as heat can also negatively impact potency

What to look for when buying herbs and supplements

Asking the knowledgeable staff at your health food store is always a good bet. They are well equipped to answer questions you still may have about which herbs and supplements to buy.

  • dark glass bottles for liquids to prevent nutrient breakdown
  • standardized herbal extracts
  • capsules or powders for those who have difficulty swallowing tablets
  • freshness (check the label for product expiry information)

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