If you’ve ever been on a mission to declutter your medicine cabinets, than you’ve likely come across a lot of outdated vitamin bottles. Vitamins can be a bit pricey to purchase regularly and it can be quite daunting to throw away a bottle that you didn’t purchase all that long ago. Since saving cash and staying healthy is a top priority for most people, we decided to dig a little deeper and discover the truth behind expiration dates that are listed vitamin bottles. The short answer to the question ‘do they expire?’ is yes and no.
Technically vitamins have an expiration date on the package, however; they won’t harm you if you consume them after the designated date. Instead, they will have less potency than if the date was within the acceptable dates of consumption. What happens is that the ingredients in these supplements, break down over time, making them less effective.
While it’s mandatory for prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications to have an expiration date on the label of the product, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require this from vitamin manufacturers. With that said, you will often see a “best before” or “use by” date on the label, however; according to researchers, two years is the average shelf life for vitamins. However; environmental factors and ingredients play a role in this shelf life, and because chewable vitamins tend to absorb moisture faster, they will naturally degrade at a more rapid rate. Tablets on the other hand, can hold onto their potency for much longer.
The good news is that you are unlikely to suffer any harm if you do ingest an expired vitamin, as they do not become poisonous or toxic. The issue with the expiration date aligns more with the potency of the vitamin than the harm, and you will have better results when you take a vitamin that is not expired. It will be for your own good to take a vitamin that is fresh and not expired, instead of one that has lost its effectiveness.
We will say that it’s important to dispose of any vitamin that has a strange odor or has changed color. There are important rules to follow when it comes to throwing out your expired vitamins, never just put them in the trash, as animals and children could get to them and be harmed. Instead, an FDA Trusted Source recommends that you blend the vitamins with cat litter or used coffee grounds, put the mixture into a sealed bag or container, and throw the container in the trash.
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