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Does your vitamin C live in the kitchen? You may want to relocate it

March 3, 2010 | 11:43 am

If you're like most people you probably keep your vitamins in the kitchen, or maybe the bathroom. Bad idea, say researchers from Purdue University, who found that humidity and high temperatures may seriously degrade products such as vitamin C.

HobmzgkfThe findings were published last month in a study in the online version of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. In it, the authors observed the stability of two types of vitamin C--sodium ascorbate and ascorbic acid, both also used as food additives--under a variety of humidity and temperature states. They were looking for deliquescence, when a water-soluble substance dissolves and becomes liquid after it absorbs moisture in the air. For a visual, think of what happens to sugar or salt when it's left out in muggy weather.

With vitamin C, however, more than clumping happens--those conditions can also cause chemical instabilities.

The researchers found that though humidity and temperature caused degradation in both forms of vitamin C, humidity had a greater effect. They also noted that the two conditions worked in tandem--higher temperatures caused more vitamin C instability when it was stored above a certain humidity.

Senior author Lisa Mauer, an associate professor of food science at Purdue, noted that even when humidity and temperatures drop and the vitamin C product goes back to a solid state, it may already be too late. "Any chemical changes or degradation that have occurred before resolidification don't reverse," she said in a news release. "You don't regain a vitamin C content after the product resolidifies or is moved to a lower humidity. The chemical changes we've observed are not reversible."

That aside, keep in mind that you might not even need those vitamin supplements. Studies have found certain vitamins and supplements may not reduce the risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, or certain types of cancer. Much to consider the next time you're in the vitamin aisle.

-- Jeannine Stein

Photo credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

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