Vitamins and supplements can play an important role in a healthy lifestyle. Certain supplements can help you lose weight, increase your energy levels, and combat stress. If you’ve ever used supplements as part of your health and wellness plan — even if you’ve been taking them for a long time — you may have questions about their proper use and effectiveness. The following answers to 4 common questions about vitamins and supplements will help you get the most out of your products and maximize your health.
1. When should you take vitamins and supplements?
Not every product will instruct you on the best time of day to take it. For those that do, follow the directions as closely as possible to maximize the product’s effectiveness. If a hunger control supplement instructs you to take it 30 minutes before eating, but you take it right before you sit down to eat, you won’t receive the intended benefits. Most vitamins and supplements should be taken with food to improve their absorption, especially probiotics, fish oil, and fat-soluble supplements such as vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Whether you take them in the morning or evening depends somewhat on the types of supplements you are using. Most supplements can be taken in the morning so that they can be absorbed into your system with the food you eat throughout the day. Any vitamins that are intended to boost energy, including B vitamins, should be taken in the morning or when needed for extra energy.
2. Is it okay to take vitamins and supplements past their expiration date?
If your vitamins or supplements have expired, it is not dangerous or hazardous to take them, but they may be less effective. Most ingredients will decompose over time, and manufacturers can guarantee the quality of their product only up to the expiration date. If kept away from heat, light, and moisture, supplements should last about two years after the manufacture date before their potency starts to decline. Liquids and oils, which are more fragile, may only last a year, and probiotics should be refrigerated to keep the organisms alive. If your supplements start to grow mold or you’re otherwise concerned about their safety, throw them out and get a new bottle.
3. Why do some vitamins change color over time?
You may notice that some supplements, especially multi-vitamins, can become darker or spotty over time. This is a result of oxidation, which occurs when your vitamins are exposed to light. If you typically transfer your pills from their original container into a clear pill organizer, you may notice this change in color. This won’t necessarily make your vitamins less effective, but it’s a good idea to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and keep your supplements away from light, heat, and humidity to maintain their quality.
4. Why do some supplements make your urine bright yellow?
If you take B vitamins, you may notice that they turn your urine a bright yellow or orange color. This is due to excess vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, which helps your body break down nutrients and build red blood cells. Your body uses the amount of riboflavin that it needs and excretes the rest. This bright yellow color is nothing to be alarmed about; however, it can make it difficult to determine if you are properly hydrated. Dark or brightly colored urine is typically an indication that you aren’t drinking enough water, so if your supplements affect the color of your urine, you’ll need to pay extra attention to how much water you drink each day.
Looking for high-quality vitamins and supplements to help you meet your health goals? Visit the Garcia Weight Loss & Wellness Centers online store to view our selection of diet supplements, easy exchange foods, and skin care formulated with natural mineral and botanical ingredients.
Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on March 27, 2017