Smell, color, taste. All of these, as with everything in nature, affect supplements in some way. Oxidation, for instance, is one of the processes that can cause many different changes. In chemistry, the oxidation state is a measure of the degree of oxidation of an atom in a chemical compound. With regards to supplements, it is the oxygen altering the appearance of the active ingredients.
A common example of this is the darkening of color pigments. For instance, if a product contains bioflavonoids, dark spots or flecking may develop. I noticed after a few weeks from opening my own bottle of our Swanson Premium Brand B-125 Complex, the tablets turned a deeper yellow-orange. Please be assured that this in no way harms the effectiveness of the product. One of the best examples I can think of to illustrate this is after you slice an apple and leave it exposed to air, the pieces slowly turn brown in color. The apple, however, is completely safe to consume, and few to none of the nutrients have been lost.
Another factor that can affect herbs is growing conditions. The soil, sun, weather conditions and time of year the harvest itself is completed can contribute to color variations. You may have noticed that in one of your bottles of bilberry the capsules were deep purple, though the next bottle was quite lighter, or at least lighter than you expected. Nature controlled that outcome, and like that apple slice, the effectiveness has not been harmed.
Nature also plays her part on the flax harvest. While we take every measure possible to ensure that the taste is pleasant for every batch, a severe drought, or too much rain, plays a huge role in the final outcome. Our Swanson EFA Flaxseed Oil supplements may also vary in taste from others on the market, as we include a proprietary antioxidant blend of rosemary, mixed tocopherols and ascorbyl palmitate.
Deviations in other supplements also exist. Sulfur containing compounds, such as cysteine or complexes containing them, like our Swanson Premium Brand Hair, Skin and Nails, may have a strong sulfur odor. This is particularly true when they are fresh and unopened. Opening the bottle and letting it stand for several hours may help reduce any unpleasant aroma. Riboflavin, one of the B-vitamins, can also cause a peculiar scent. It is found in all of our multi vitamin/mineral complexes and like the sulfur containing products, it will emit a strong essence upon first opening. While we strive to take measures to reduce the pungency by including a desiccant and silicon in some products, you may want to leave these sit opened for a few hours to minimize it.
So the next time you open a bottle and the color is not right or maybe it does not smell the best, you can be assured that the quality is there. It's just nature playing its part.
This question was answered by a trained product specialist at Swanson Health Products. Do you have a question you’d like answered? Send it via email to email@example.com.
(Note: as per industry regulations, we cannot and will not answer medical questions, make treatment or diagnosis recommendations or comment on disease inquiries. Such questions must be answered by your doctor or professional health care provider.)