Is It Safe To Take Expired Vitamins?
If you just realized that the vitamins you were taking had expired a few months ago, then there's no need to panic.
The expiration date listed on vitamins is based on the potential for deterioration of the product's quality and benefits, not on its safety.
As long as there's no mold growing on your vitamins, you can breathe a sigh of relief. You may not get the same benefit from the pills, but they likely won't harm your health either.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require that expiration date codes be applied to dietary supplements, including minerals and vitamins.
Manufacturers can choose to have them printed on the product—and if so, they can be described as “expired,” “best consumed before,” or “used before.”
If the vitamin manufacturer shows a date, then they must have valid data on that date. Do not make statements that are untrue or misleading. This means the manufacturer must have internal research that demonstrates with evidence the potential shelf life of the product at that date.
Safe to eat
Expired vitamins are safe to consume. At the expiration date, products must still contain 100% of the dietary supplement ingredients listed on the label, as long as they are stored in the correct conditions.
After the maturity date, the quality and benefits of vitamins continue to decline. There's no reason to worry about potential harm or side effects, although that means you may not get your prescribed dose, so it's better to throw it away and replace it with a new package.
Again, if an expired vitamin has mold growth that looks or smells very strange, that's a red flag. They may be risky for consumption due to microbiological contamination. Stop picking it up and dispose of it properly.
When and Why Vitamins Expired
How quickly a vitamin expires depends on several factors—some of which have to do with manufacturing and others to do with your own habits.
- Vitamin form: Gummy vitamins and liquids tend to expire faster than tablets, capsules, and softgels.
- Type of container: Some vitamins retain their potency longer in opaque containers than in clear containers, due to the effects of UV rays from sunlight.
- Type of container lid: Similarly, the type of lid—screw versus flip-top—can affect the shelf life. If the flip-top cap doesn't make a proper seal when closed, the vitamins will be exposed to more moisture, which makes them break down more quickly.
- Storage conditions: If you store vitamins in a place with high humidity, such as a medicine cabinet in the bathroom, they may spoil more quickly. Likewise, avoid exposing vitamins to a lot of light. Cool, dark cabinets are best for storing most products.
- Contamination: If you put in the vitamin containers every morning after preparing the children's lunches, you could contaminate the bottles with food debris or bacterial particles and affect the shelf life.
Vitamin Shelf Life
The shelf life of vitamins also depends on the type of vitamin. For example, some studies show that certain vitamins break down more quickly. 5
- Vitamin C: This vitamin is very susceptible to deliquescence, a process in which the vitamin starts to absorb some of the relative humidity in the air. When it absorbs moisture, it loses potency. If the product is not packaged properly, or if you frequently open and close the container in a humid environment, the vitamins will spoil more quickly.
- Thiamin: One of the B vitamins that is quite susceptible to the environment, this type of B vitamin can also be affected by moisture through deliquescence. Keeping away from a humid environment is best.
- Vitamin K: When combined with a multivitamin that also contains minerals, Vitamin K can be degraded more quickly.
Is It Safe To Take Expired Vitamins? All things can happen depending on the condition and the age of the vitamin that has been worn out. Please check the storage and shelf life of vitamins from the first time you buy and consume them.