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Traveling With Vitamins & Supplements

Question:
Which supplements are helpful to have when traveling? Any tips on how to best store supplements on trips?

Answer:
Several supplements may be helpful when traveling (see the "What to Consider When Using" section in Product Reviews of specific supplements you may be planning on taking with you during a trip, for more detailed information about the best way to store your supplements.)

If you need a little help falling asleep, melatonin can be used and it may help you avoid jet lag after a long flight.

Keeping a few nutrition or meal replacement bars in your travel bag or purse may come in handy in case you experience unexpected transportation delays, or an outing takes longer than expected.

There is some evidence that ginger may be helpful if you are prone to motion sickness.  

If you will be trying new foods (or just eating out more often) during your trip, you may want to consider bringing along supplements that may help with indigestion or heartburn, such as digestive enzymes and lactase supplements.

Taking certain probiotics several days before and during your trip may reduce the likelihood of developing traveler's diarrhea.

Probiotics may also offer some protection against colds and respiratory infections. If you do develop a cold, zinc lozenges may help to reduce the severity and/or duration of symptoms. (If you develop a cold while taking vitamin C, it may modestly reduce symptom severity and duration, but starting vitamin C supplementation after symptoms have already begun may not be helpful.)

Storage and Travel
Keep in mind when traveling that certain supplements, including some probiotics, fish oil and protein powders, are particularly sensitive to heat and moisture and should be packed and stored accordingly. Do not leave them in your car, and, when flying, keep them in your carry-on luggage rather than checking them with baggage since bags may sit out on the tarmac or in other environments which are not temperature controlled. (Remember, however, that liquid supplements in amounts greater than 3.4 ounces (100 mL), must be stored in checked luggage and cannot be kept in carry-on luggage.)

Although not required by the TSA, it may be helpful to keep your supplements in their original containers so they can be easily identified by security, especially if you are traveling abroad. In general, traveling in or out of the U.S. with supplements is permitted by the FDA as long as amounts are considered reasonable for personal use.

Radiation from airport security scanners is not likely to affect the quality or safety of vitamins and supplements. According to the FDA, "There are no known adverse effects from eating food, drinking beverages, using medicine, or applying cosmetics that have been irradiated by a cabinet x ray system used for security screening." A typical dose of radiation received by objects going through these systems is significantly lower than those used to irradiate food, and one study of medications such as acetaminophen found no change in drug content or quality after exposure to higher levels of radiation than used in typical scanners (Uehara, Drug Dev Ind Pharm 2015). Nevertheless, you may request that medications (and likely, supplements as well) be screened visually rather than by X-ray if you prefer. 

If you have some favorite travel supplements or related tips, share them in the Comments section below!

Learn About Storing Vitamins & Supplements:



I am curious why some probiotics do not require refrigeration even though they contain some of the same bacteria in probiotics that require refrigeration? Which probiotics need to be refrigerated? >>

Do vitamins, minerals and nutritional supplements lose effectiveness with exposure to high temperatures and is it safe to order supplements by mail in the summer? >>

Can heat and humidity destroy whey protein and other sports nutrition supplements (e.g., creatine, BCAAs, digestive enzymes) during shipping or while storing at home? >>

If I buy NAC as a loose powder in a large bag, as opposed to in tablet form, will it spoil? I've heard it can spoil or degrade into a harmful by-product. >>

Tablets I purchased are becoming "crumbly" after a few weeks and are easy to break. Is there a problem with this supplement? >>

Can CoQ10 or ubiquinol be ruined by heat? I recently purchased several bottles of Qunol Plus from Costco.com and they arrived hot. The soft gels are not melted, but I am concerned. >>

See other recent and popular questions >>
COMMENTS

Warren18755   December 22, 2019
Very funny (and typical) that the FDA says scanner radiation is OK because it's less that what's used to irradiate food. You couldn't pay me to eat irradiated food!

Cindy18403   September 19, 2019
Can the baggage xray scanning machines effect our vitamins and supplements? This has been a concern, also my medications like eyedrops. Sometimes I discard any leftovers after traveling.

ConsumerLab.com   December 23, 2019
Hi Cindy - Thank you for your question. We've added information about the effects of airport X-ray scanners on vitamins and supplements to the answer above.

Myo15152   June 18, 2017
Very helpful

Gary9738   May 29, 2016
We also like to start on Echinacea and Astragalus three days before we begin to travel and up to 3 days after the completion of the trip to help prevent colds and other ailments that we have associated with air travel.

Zorine9736   May 29, 2016
With fish oil and other temp sensitive supplements, sometimes it is better to buy them once you arrive at your destination than to pack them. Take only what you need for your travel time, and then buy enough for the duration of your visit once you're on the ground.

Dale9749   May 31, 2016
I do pack in checked luggage....but wrap supplements in ice packs in a thermal pouch...so far so good! ...even for overseas


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This CL Answer initially posted on 5/28/2016. Last updated 12/16/2019.
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