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Ask The Doctor…

Do vitamins really expire? Is it bad if I take them after their expiration date?

The short answer is no but here is why. Vitamin producing companies are not required to print expiration dates on their products but most of them do for a point of reference. If properly stored vitamins have a shelf life of four to five years. “Stored properly” means in a cool, dry place, away from light, and in air tight containers. Places not to store your vitamins include the refrigerator, bathrooms, and kitchens. Taking the vitamins in and out of the refrigerator can cause condensation which can degrade the vitamins. It is acceptable to store excess vitamins in the fridge until you are ready to use them. Bathrooms have heat and humidity which can cause the vitamins to lose their potency more quickly and kitchens have moisture and vaporized fats that can do the same. Closets are actually one of the best places to store your vitamins. Eating old vitamins is not dangerous, they just lose their potency and you may not be getting as much as you expected. Just a reminder that most vitamins will be removed from the body by the kidneys if taken in excess without any difficulty, but vitamins A, D, and K should only be taken in their recommended dosages as they can be dangerous if used too much.


I have been on birth control for a couple of years now and I have noticed that my period seems to be getting shorter, lasting one or two days. Is that ok?

Yes, that is a perfectly normal “side effect” of taking birth control pills. This is due to the fact that the pill decreases the amount of lining produced each month thereby decreasing the length of bleeding. The pill also provides a much more stable amount of the drug than the body usually produces giving you a very regular and usually shorter period. Most women can expect their period to shorten by 2 days if they begin taking oral contraceptives. If taken properly most women will know exactly which day their period will begin and in some cases even what time of day they can expect it. Other benefits of oral contraceptives include improvement of acne, reduce the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer, and improvement of anemia. If you have more questions concerning oral contraceptives, feel free to set up an appointment for discussion at Health Services, 677-2700.

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