Pregnant women and people who need regular supplements due to a deficiency should always consult their doctor before taking expired vitamins. While most vitamins and mineral supplements don't go bad, they often lose their potency over time. It's best to discard any supplement that has been in use for more than two years or that you are unsure of. Check the labels for storage instructions and expiration dates as a guide.
Like food and beverages, vitamins and supplements have an average lifespan of about two years. Expiration dates are intended to provide you with the information you need to ensure that you use the products in a timely manner and that you are consuming the amount of each vitamin listed on the label. It is important to ask your doctor before taking vitamins to make sure they are right for you. After two years have passed or after the expiration date stamped on a vitamin bottle has passed, consider replacing the vitamins.
If you recently discovered that the daily vitamin you had been taking expired months ago, there is no need to panic. However, certain groups of people may be at greater risk than others if they take expired vitamins. If you ever find an old bottle of vitamins or supplements and wonder if it is still safe to consume them, the answer is not so simple. In any case, check the bottle of any supplement for recommendations on how to store it and follow them.
That means that the closer you get to the expiration date when you buy a bottle of vitamins, the less potent they will be, according to the IDEA Health and Fitness Association. Supplements are a generic term and vitamins can be included within that umbrella, explains nutrition scientist and director of scientific affairs at MBG Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph. D. For example, do not be tempted to double your intake of a vitamin after the expiration date has passed to make sure you get enough.
The problem is, if you rely on a vitamin supplement to make sure you get a certain dose to help treat a medical condition or vitamin deficiency, a less potent vitamin may not be providing enough. A number of factors can affect the expiration date of a vitamin, including packaging, storage, ingredients, and composition. Ferira explains that potency simply means that the ingredients in the product remain the same or higher than the dose in which they appear in the “information about the supplement” panel on the back of the product. The bottle that vitamins or supplements come in was created to ensure their potency and purity, making it the safest place to store them.
The Food and Drug Administration will market its products, but will intervene if a supplement is considered dangerous, according to the Colorado State University Extension. It is important for pregnant women and those with medical conditions or deficiencies to consult their doctor before taking expired vitamins or supplements. The average lifespan of vitamins and supplements is two years from production date or expiration date stamped on the bottle. The closer one gets to this date, the less potent they will be as potency is determined by ingredients remaining at same or higher dose than listed on label.
Storage instructions should be followed as well as not doubling up on dosage after expiration date has passed.