Q. Our vitamin E soft gels have developed an extremely foul odor. Would it help to store them in the refrigerator, and does the bad odor indicate a deterioration in the vitamin E itself? If so, is this dangerous?
A. Vitamin E should be nearly odorless. If your soft gels smell bad, the vitamin E in them may have gone rancid. It's never a smart idea to consume rancid oil, since this increases your body's need for antioxidant protection. That's why most people take vitamin E in the first place.
It isn't necessary to store vitamin E in the refrigerator, but some forms are more vulnerable to oxidation (spoiling). Mixed tocopherols -- compounds similar to vitamin E -- should always be kept in a tightly closed, opaque bottle in a cool, dry place to keep them as fresh as possible.
Q. It makes me mad when people won't try home remedies. I guess it sounds too easy. But 1 / 4 teaspoon cinnamon dissolved in 1 / 4 cup warm water really will stop diarrhea, and ginger tea works great for nausea.
A. Cinnamon is a traditional folk remedy for diarrhea, and a recent study showed that ginger pills can alleviate morning sickness. Ginger tea should also help.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of the People's Pharmacy, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717, or e-mail them via their Web site (www.peoplespharmacy.com) on the HealthCentral.com network.