Situation: You just found out that you’re pregnant.
You Think: Now I should start taking folic acid!
The Truth: “You should actually already have adequate levels of folic acid in your system at the time of conception,” says Dr. Low Dog, who recommends starting to take 400 micrograms of folic acid per day at least one month before trying to conceive to reduce the risk of birth defects. That said, since 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, Dr. Low Dog also notes that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all sexually active women take 400 micrograms of folic acid per day, even if you’re not actively trying to conceive.
Situation: You choose supplements with the term "all natural" on the label.
You Think: They must be healthier and safer.
The Truth: “Unlike the term organic, ‘all natural’ is not an official term that is regulated by the federal government and does not offer any guarantee as to the product's safety,” explains toxicology expert Lori Bestervelt, PhD, chief technical officer and senior vice president at NSF International, a public health and safety organization that tests and certifies consumer products, including dietary supplements.
Situation: You try to find vitamins with the terms “pharmaceutical strength” or “pharmaceutical grade” on the bottle.
You Think: This means they’re more potent and therefore, more effective.
The Truth: This is another term to watch out for, notes Bestervelt. “There’s no such thing as ‘pharmaceutical strength’ or grade for dietary supplements,” she explains. In other words, if you see these terms on labels, don’t take them too seriously.
Situation: You keep all of your supplements in the same place in your kitchen.
You Think: They’re all in closed bottles, so it doesn’t make a difference where I store them.
The Truth: Some supplements like flax oil, fish oil and probiotics need to be kept in the fridge to maintain their quality and shelf life. They can actually become rancid faster if kept elsewhere. Most vitamins will do fine stored in a dry, dark place with a steady temperature, such as a drawer, according to Jeanette Bronée, a certified holistic health coach and founder of the wellness center Path for Life. But you should never store vitamins on top of microwaves or fridges, as those locations typically give off heat and may reduce the effectiveness of your vitamins. The bathroom medicine cabinet is also a place to avoid because of the moisture levels, notes Dopart.