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Adding Vitamins to Your Preps - What You Need to Know

By Stephanie Dayle

The following is not medical advice or a medical recommendation. I am not a doctor or lawyer, if you have a medical question seek the assistance of a medical professional. 

Why Do I Need to Store Vitamins? 

Vitamins are commonly found on the food storage lists of people who practice emergency preparedness, because as stored food ages the vitamins within the food degrades. Therefore, if they are faced with a long term emergency in which they find themselves relaying heavily on their food storage or on reduced rations there is a good chance that they may also be suffering from one or more vitamin deficiencies as time goes on.

Vitamin deficiencies are serious and can even cause death. Diseases like scurvy, rickets, and night blindness are all caused by vitamin deficiencies. Click here to see the top 10 vitamin deficiencies that still exist today.

While there are other options to get extra nutrients even when confined indoors, like eating sprouts, to guard against vitamin deficiencies many preppers add vitamins to their emergency supplies.

All vitamins are equal, and any vitamin is better than no vitamin at all right? Or so many retailers would like you to believe. In fact, they aren't equal at all.

What Kind of Vitamin is Best?

Many grocery store vitamins, including Centrum and OneADay aren't the best quality on the market; don't even get me started on gummy vitamins. Besides the fact that gummies are full of sugar, artificial flavors, and artificial colors - along with most grocery store vitamins gummies are SYNTHETIC vitamins. They are also full of citric acid (vitamin C) and because the gelatin sticks to your teeth and/or your kid's teeth, it eats away at the tooth enamel where as with normal vitamins there would be little or no contact with your teeth.

Why go through the trouble of avoiding GMOs and growing your own organic food only to go buy and consume synthetic vitamins made in a lab?  Why not get good "whole food" vitamins?? From companies with good ethics. Apply the same values that you adhere to with your food, to your everyday vitamins AND your emergency supply.

"Food based or whole food vitamins" are vitamins that come from actual food and are not made in a lab. When you read the ingredient list you won't see yellow number 5, and calcium carbonate (which is more like a rock than a digestible form of calcium, its one of the worst forms of calcium on the market) you will instead see CARROTS, WILD BLUEBERRIES, ETC....  they even have organic, vegan and gluten-free whole food vitamins.

Some of the companies that make those synthetic vitamins are also owned by the same companies we complain about not wanting them to mess with our FOOD! Centrum is owned by Pfizer (source). One-A-Day you ask? Owned by Bayer (source)! So, if you don't want them messing with your food or with seeds from which your food grows, why would you buy their vitamins?

There are a few that are independently owned companies out there and if you choose to stay with synthetics, independent companies, like Nature Made are not a bad way to go. Costco's Kirkland line  continues to be ranked exceedingly well in the synthetic category. Supposedly NBTY manufactures the Kirkland line up of vitamins, but I can't confirm that. NBTY manufactures Natures Bounty.

Synthetic VS Whole Food Vitamins Explained

But Vitamins Upset my Stomach

When vitamins upset your stomach or you burp them up all day or they turn your pee day-glow yellow, those are usually side effects of 'synthetic' vitamins (source). Whole food vitamins will not upset your stomach, and you will not burp them up - because they are food, not chemicals (source). Food based vitamins don't smell or taste like normal vitamins and will change your whole opinion of vitamins.

The processing of whole food vitamins excludes the use of heat, pressure and toxic solvents. No chemical or sugar coating is used to seal whole food vitamin tablets and no artificial chemicals are used. Whole food vitamin processing uses fresh, raw food ingredients prepared as food extracts. Your body will use what it needs and the rest goes out in the bathroom. With synthetics you can overdose - and the results can be toxic.

Pills are a Problem?

Swallowing pills a problem? Try a liquid vitamin that is made from "whole foods" they contain all the vitamins and supplements in one single dose that tastes good (about a shot glass). They are highly absorbable and taste way better than they sound. There are many different brands of the liquid vitamins on the market and sugar free varieties as well. They are highly recommend for finicky children, adults that don't like pills (aka: finicky adults), and persons that have had lap-band or gastric bypass surgeries, colostomy surgery etc...

One of my favorite brands of solid 'food based' vitamins is MegaFoods (pictured above). Does this mean that you have use that brand? No. Please do your own research on them. Another reputable brand that is producing affordable whole food vitamins is Swanson. There is enough information out there on the different types of supplements and vitamins that I could literally write forever. There are several different types of calcium on the market some more absorbable than others, there are different types of vitamin C, and magnesium (a few that should be avoided) it is really worth looking into them before you buy.

Whole food vitamins or "food based" vitamins are considerably more expensive than synthetic vitamins therefore they may not be in everyone's price range. In that case synthetic may be your only option for now, but it would still be wise to make sure that what you are using is the best synthetic you can afford.

Which Ones?

Eat what you store, store what you eat. This is a phrase that reminds preppers to rotate their supply and prevent waste. Store the vitamins you are already taking. If you are not currently taking any vitamins or supplements, in my never humble opinion, I would still recommend you prepping them. 

A complete multivitamin once a day is what most experts recommend, so that is a good rule of thumb for prepping vitamins, but if you have special dietary needs and/or take other supplements, then prep those as well. 

Immune boosting vitamins are a common recommendation for daily regimens and emergency supplies. Vitamin D, vitamin C, and Zinc all fall into the category of immune system supporters. There are many reasons why immune supporters my be helpful in a long term emergency. Without emergency medical care old diseases could make a come back, so why not give your immune system a fighting chance? Also being sick puts you at risk in dangerous situations, it robs your energy and alertness. It would benefit everyone to remain healthy.

Folic Acid is a member of the B vitamin family, it is a supplement that is commonly recommended for women who could become pregnant. It helps in the formation of new cells and prevents major birth defects. Like most other B vitamins it has been suggested that folic acid can help our brains cope with stress and depression (source). These things make folic acid and other B vitamins a good choice to add to your daily and emergency supplies.

How to Store Vitamins

Some people assume that "whole food" vitamins will not store as long as their synthetic preservative filled counter parts, but this is not so. The expiration dates are very similar.

This picture above shows a new bottle of MegaFood vitamins with an expiration date two and half years out. This means that you could EASILY maintain and rotate a years supply of vitamins in your home and that is what I recommend, a one year supply. Buy new bottles and put them in the back while rotating the oldest to the front and using that first. This ensures that no vitamins are ever wasted and if something bad were to happen, you'd have at least one year's worth of vitamins if not a little more.

To figure out how many you need for a year's supply, multiple a one day's dose (this is usually one or two tablets per person) by 30 then multiple that number by twelve. Next multiple that number by the number of people in your household, this will give you an approximation of how many tablets you need to have on hand for a year.

In this case, it is best to adhere to the expiration date on the vitamins. Usually when storing things for emergency preparedness many expiration dates can be ignored as they only mean that the manufacture will not guarantee the quality beyond that date. For vitamins (especially high quality ones), if the quality drops this means the vitamins are degrading which defeats the purpose of taking them. Vitamins are best purchased and used before their expiration dates.

Make sure your vitamins are stored sealed in a dark brown preferably glass bottle (like the bottle that these Megafood vitamins come in) in a cool dark place. The bottle the vitamins come in, is usually your best bet for storage you will gain nothing by opening the bottle and vacuum packing them. Quality vitamins are already packed with an oxygen absorber and moisture control - it is difficult to improve upon that.

Making Vitamins Last Longer if You Can't Get More

If hard times have hit and you have taken in extra family or friends make the vitamins you have last longer by taking them once every three days or so. Quality vitamins can sill be effective when taken this way. Even when taken once a week it is better than not at all. Vitamin priority should be given to anyone who is pregnant in your group, the very young and the elderly. Disperse the remaining vitamins to others in your group every couple of days.

Don't forget those handy empty bottles! If you get the nice vitamins with the dark brown glass bottles they are great for storing dried herbs, spices, homemade oils, infusions, and anything else that you'd like to keep away from sunlight.

More Reading:

Synthetic VS Whole Food Vitamins

What's the Difference Between Natural and Synthetic Vitamins?

Understand the Difference - Natural News 

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  1. Stephanie as you know i am a newbie regarding much of this. You are complicating my life, JK. I have read there are two expirations or perhaps used. One is the typical expiration date, the other is often used on meds and vitamins and it is a "use by date." Its my understanding the use by date means the item is to be thrown away by that date because its effectiveness is in question. If i am off base correct me.

  2. You are correct - There are two dates used in the food industry. An 'expiration date' is most often applied to medicane, vitamins and supplements. I have never seen two dates used on one vitamin product and I have only ever seen expiration dates on quality vitamins.

    Essentially they are telling you the same thing: that the manufacturer is not going to guarantee the quality of that product beyond that printed date. With vitamins this usually means that they will start to lose their potency after that time - they will begin to degrade.

    They won't poison you if you take them anyways but the goal should be to use the vitamins prior to that date to make sure you get the quality you paid for.

    If I couldn't buy anymore vitamins I would have no problem taking expired ones in hopes that they still worked - but I always try to rotate them out before that time.


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