According to findings published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, chromatographic data from four months on the space shuttle and ISS showed that there no differences in the stability of vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6, compared with samples stored at ground control.
“In a preliminary investigation on the stability of pharmaceuticals in space, some of the formulations were found either degraded prematurely with respect to active pharmaceutical ingredient content,” explained scientists from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and NASA’s Johnson Space Center in the Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis.
“Multivitamin and multi-mineral supplements are included in the space formulary for voluntary consumption by astronauts. For this reason, we examined the stability with respect to content and dissolution of [the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API)], B complex, in multiple vitamin nutritional supplement[s] stored in the pharmaceutical kit of a space craft,” they added.
Food versus supplements
In a recent exclusive interview with NutraIngredients-USA.com, Dr Michele Perchonok, manager of NASA's shuttle food system and advanced food technology project, explained that the potential of long-term space missions (up to five years) is focusing attention on ensuring an adequate supply of micronutrients.
Progress is being made, said Dr Perchonok, and studies with various delivery forms, from tortillas to multivitamin tablets, have already shown that concentrations of certain vitamins decline significantly during long-term storage.
The Houston-based food scientist added that, given a choice between food and supplements, she chooses food because the food matrix may offer a natural protection against the gradual degradation of nutrients. Vitamin C, for instance, is better protected in acidic environments, so it’s important to choose a suitably acidic carrier product if it is to last a long time.
Indeed, the new vitamin B stability study called for “long-term follow up” on the stability of vitamins within the multivitamin matrix. The study was limited to four months of storage on the ISS.
Researchers led by Massachusetts-based Monica Chuong analyzed the B vitamin content of two commercially available multivitamins: Centrum Silver Multivitamin/Multimineral Supplements (Wyeth) and OneADay Women's (Bayer).
The B1, B2, B3 and B6 contents of the Centrum product were 1.5, 1.7, 20, and 3 milligrams, respectively, while the Bayer product contained 1.5, 1.7, 10 and 2 milligrams, respectively.
At the end of the storage period, results showed that vitamin B3 concentrations had decreased by about 25 percent in the OneADay Women's product, but no changes were observed in any of the other B vitamins, and no degradation at all was observed in the Centrum product.
A packaging consideration
The researchers noted that the degradation observed in the Bayer product may be related to the packaging. “Polymer plastic containers are probably better suited for withstanding vibration forces experienced during ascent and decent spacecraft to Earth by being lighter than glass and metal ones and less breakable,” they wrote.
“However, the polymeric materials used to fabricate the drug and nutrient product containers in space will need to be addressed for long term expedition missions.
“Formulations intended for use in space should be aimed at having a much longer expiration date than what is labeled on the product,” they added.
To read the exclusive interview with Dr Michele Perchonok, please click here.
Source: Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis
Published online ahead of print, doi:10.1016/j.jpba.2011.03.030
“Stability of vitamin B complex in multivitamin and multimineral supplement tablets after space flight”
Authors: M.C. Chuong, D. Prasad, B. LeDuc, B. Du, L. Putcha