All Your Herbal Supplements Questions Answered. Support Your Health with Natural Herbal Supplements
Do Vitamins Expire?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require expiration dates on dietary supplements, including vitamins and minerals. Manufacturers may choose to print a “best by,” “use by,” or “expires on ” date on their packaging.
While most vitamins don’t “expire” in the traditional sense, they may oxidize and break down with time, thus becoming less potent and less efficient. If you take expired vitamins, you may be taking less than you think, and they may not deliver the effect you expect them to deliver.
The following factors are particularly important:
- Exposure to light: Exposure to sunlight and UV rays affect vitamin potency. Opaque and dark-colored containers protect vitamins from light and UV rays. Prefer storing your vitamins in a cabinet or other dark storage area.
- Exposure to humidity: Vitamins exposed to humidity lose their potency faster. Avoid storing vitamins in high-humidity areas of the house, like the bathroom cabinet. Also make sure that you always close tightly the container cap, to prevent humidity from coming into contact with your vitamins and oxidizing them.
- Contamination: handle your vitamins with clean hands to avoid bacterial contamination.
Of course, if your vitamin looks moldy, smells funny, or has changed color, you shouldn’t use it for fear of contamination or oxidization.
Do I Need to Store Vitamins and Herbal Supplements in the Refrigerator?
Not at all. Indeed, generally speaking, you should not store your nutrition supplements in the refrigerator, as refrigerators are highly humid and therefore not optimal storage for vitamins.
Instead, you should store your vitamins in a dark and dry storage area.
HoneyCombs Industries’ liquid vitamins and herbal supplements contain natural vegetable glycerin, which acts as a natural preservative.
What Is the Best Way to Store Vitamins and Herbal Supplements?
The potency of vitamins and herbal supplements declines with time. To keep them potent for as long as possible, store them in a dry and dark storage area. It is also important to store your vitamins out of reach of children and pets.
Keep in mind the following when you store your supplements:
- Avoid exposure to light: Exposure to sunlight and UV rays affect vitamin potency, which is why supplement containers are usually opaque and dark-colored. Avoid open shelves and store your vitamins in a dark cabinet or other dark storage areas.
- Avoid exposure to humidity: Vitamins exposed to humidity oxidize and lose their potency faster. Avoid storing vitamins in high-humidity areas of the house like the bathroom cabinet. Unless the supplement you are taking specifically recommends refrigeration on the packaging, avoid the refrigerator as it is an environment high in humidity. Make sure that you always close tightly the container cap, thus preventing humidity from coming into contact with your vitamins.
- Avoid high temperatures: To preserve their potency, always store your vitamins in a cool place. Avoid any cabinets or storage areas that are near a heat source.
- Always close your supplement container immediately after use: Always close your vitamins container immediately after use to avoid contamination from dust, food residues, and other sources of bacteria.
- Choose a cabinet out of reach of children and pets: As with medication, always store your vitamins and supplements out of children’s reach, e.g. in a high cabinet. Also, make sure your pets cannot get hold of the vitamins/supplements containers.
- Keep your supplements in the original container: Although it may seem convenient to transfer your supplements to other containers, avoid doing so. Keep in mind that vitamin and supplement containers have been designed specifically to protect them from light, humidity, and contamination, and they should always be preferred to any other containers.
Can You Overdose on Vitamins and Nutrition Supplements?
Yes, you can overdose on vitamins and nutrition supplements, with serious implications for your health and life. Overdosing can happen if you ingest far more than the daily recommended dose (usually hundreds of times more), if you are taking the vitamin for a much longer period than the recommended one, or both.
Although most water-soluble vitamins (mainly Vitamins of the B complex) are not stored in the body and any excess is naturally eliminated through the kidneys and urine, this is not the case with all vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins, in particular, may be stored in the body’s fat cells and lead to overdosing.
Most herbal supplements can also have side effects if you overdose on them or if you are taking them for too long.
Therefore you should always conform to the manufacturer’s instructions about maximum daily dosage and restrictions in the duration you may safely take the vitamin or supplement. If you are taking vitamins or supplements on prescription, you should always follow your health provider’s instructions. In case of any symptoms that you consider to be side effects of vitamin or supplement ingestion, stop immediately and consult with your health provider.
What Are Fat-Soluble and Water-Soluble Vitamins?
Most vitamins (like the B Complex vitamins) are water-soluble, which means that they dissolve in water. In contrast, fat-soluble vitamins are oily and do not dissolve in water.
An excessive dosage of a water-soluble vitamin is not stored by the body, but eliminated through the kidneys and urine. This makes taking water-soluble vitamins generally safer than fat-soluble ones, as it is harder to overdose.
Fat-soluble vitamins (in particular A, D, E, and K) are better absorbed into the bloodstream when ingested with some oily ingredient. If you ingest a large dose of fat-soluble vitamins, the excess that is not used by the body is stored in fat cells and can potentially lead to overdose effects and possible toxicity. Therefore, when you take fat-soluble vitamins, you need to be particularly careful over the maximum daily dosage.
Sometimes vitamins are used externally, often mixed with beauty products (creams, shampoo, etc.). In this case, water-soluble vitamins will mix better with water-soluble support, while fat-soluble vitamins mix better with oily support.
Can I Be Allergic to Vitamins?
Yes, it is possible to be allergic to herbal supplements. Remember that anything can trigger an allergy; even water (people who suffer from water allergy develop hives on the skin after contact with water. Amazingly enough, this includes sweating, crying, and rainfall).
Having said that, it is highly unlikely for someone to be allergic to a vitamin, assuming that they take the recommended dose and do not overdose.
However, vitamins that you take as supplements also contain other ingredients, and you might be allergic to some of these ingredients. For example, if you are allergic to fish, you may also be allergic to multivitamins containing omega-3 in the form of fish oil.
If you know that you are allergic to specific ingredients, always check the vitamin label to verify the formula is safe for you. If you develop a rash, itching, or any other symptom that seems to be an adverse reaction to taking a vitamin, stop taking the vitamin and consult with your health provider immediately.
Can I Be Allergic to Herbal Supplements?
Some people may be allergic to specific herbs, and therefore to herbal supplements derived from them. Adverse reactions can be as dangerous as anaphylactic shock.
A few examples of known allergic reactions to herbal supplements include:
- Reaction to supplements that include bee pollen or other bee products.
- Reaction to supplements containing chamomile, feverfew, dandelion, etc.; when you are allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemum, marigold, chamomile, dandelion, yarrow, daisies, etc., or when you are allergic to pollen.
Many people have developed allergic reactions due to pesticides and heavy metals present in the supplement. It is therefore extremely important to source your supplements carefully and to prefer brands that use only pure ingredients in their supplements.
If you know that you are allergic to specific ingredients, always check the supplement label to verify the formula is safe for you.
If you develop a rash, itching, swelling in the mouth, nasal congestion, or any other symptom that seems to be an adverse reaction to taking an herbal supplement, stop taking it right away and consult with your health provider. Symptoms of a moderate or severe allergic reaction include difficulty of breathing or swallowing, tightness in the chest, dizziness, and nausea. In such cases, call 911 immediately.
How Much Vitamin or Herb Supplement Should I Take per Day?
There is no single recommended dosage for vitamins and supplements. You should always take the dosage recommended by the manufacturer or the health care professional who advises you on how to take the supplements.
Taking more than the recommended dose may lead to overdose and compromise your health. In case of doubt about the dosage suitable for your case, consult a healthcare professional.
Why Do I Need an Herbal Supplement Instead of Simply Eating an Herb?
As the ancient Greeks used to say, “Let your food be your medicine.” It is always beneficial to include fresh herbs in your daily nutrition and you should do so whenever possible.
However, it is often hard to consume enough herbs and vegetables to take enough nutrients. This is where supplements come to offer an efficient solution, by helping you increase your daily nutrient intake in stable doses that you can easily calculate.
Vitamins and herbal supplements are available in various forms: capsules, powder, tablets, liquid extracts, or tinctures. You can also use herbs fresh or dried in food preparations or in teas.
Are Liquid Extracts Stronger than Traditional Herbs and Vitamins?
Liquid extracts offer several benefits compared to other forms of herbs or vitamins:
- They are generally better absorbed, especially if you suffer from a digestive tract disorder. Liquid extracts don’t need to be broken down, so they have a higher bioavailability—i.e. more bioactive compounds are absorbed. This makes liquid extracts much stronger than capsules and tablets.
- Liquid extracts are more potent because they usually have higher doses of bioactive compounds in them than you can find in a tablet or capsule.
- Liquid extracts require 1-4 minutes to assimilate, when tablets and pills require 20-30 minutes to be broken down before assimilation starts. This means that liquid extracts act faster as they are absorbed into the bloodstream much faster than tablets, pills, or capsules.
- Liquid extracts have generally a longer shelf life than capsules and powders. As long as you keep the supplement in its original container and store it in a dry, cool, dark cabinet, your liquid extract can remain potent for a long time.
- Liquid extracts are easier to swallow compared to capsules, pills, and tablets. This makes it easier to supplement your diet punctually and effectively. They can be mixed in water, tea, juice, smoothies, or other food, which makes consuming them easier and more pleasant.