Ever popped a multivitamin and wondered whether it’s expired? So you quickly fumbled the bottle, only to discover that it had expired some time ago. Well, there’s no need to fret; accidentally consuming expired vitamins is not life-threatening, as the expiry date is based on potency, not safety. Consuming expired vitamins may simply mean that you are no longer reaping the full benefits of the supplement unless mould or fungi are growing on them.
Unlike with over-the-counter (OTC) medications and prescription drugs, including expiry dates on dietary supplements is not mandatory under The Food and Drug Administration, Most manufacturers, however, will continue to print the “best before” or “use by” date on the lid or label of their products. Typically, vitamins have a shelf life of two years, but this is highly dependent on other factors such as the variation and form of the vitamins, as well as the condition in which they are stored.
Vitamin variations & their shelf lives
The shelf lives of vitamins vary according to their form and contents. Based on a study, vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin B-1 (thiamine) are known to have a higher breakdown rate. Vitamin C and vitamin B-1 are more susceptible to deliquescence, which is the process of gradual dissolution and liquefaction by the absorption of moisture from the atmosphere. Additionally, when combined with other minerals in a multivitamin, vitamin K degrades relatively quickly.
Some vitamins have longer shelf lives than others. For instance, chewable and gummy vitamins are popular among kids, but the fillers make them more prone to absorbing moisture and thus deteriorate faster than vitamin tablets and capsules with a harder exterior. When vitamins absorb moisture or are exposed to humid environments, their potency degrades. Therefore, keep your vitamins in a cool, dry place and ensure that the container or lid of the package is tightly sealed after opening.
Is there any adverse effect of taking expired vitamins?
Accidentally popping vitamins that have expired is unlikely to harm your health, unless you knowingly consume one that already has mould growing on it (ick!). Based on numerous health researches, there is currently no documented case of illness or death caused by the consumption of expired vitamins.
Consumption of expired vitamins may give consumers the false impression that she is supplementing her body with nutrient boosters when, in fact, the vitamins are no longer as potent as they once were. In the end, it will be very much like drinking an empty can of energy drink. Hence, those who rely on vitamins to supplement their diet should keep a close eye on the supplement’s expiry date. A person who is anaemic, for example, will need a sufficient amount of iron supplementation on a daily basis. When an anaemic patient’s iron intake is inadequate, consuming expired iron supplements will pose serious health consequences.
The final verdict
It is not dangerous to consume expired vitamins, but they do lose their potency and effectiveness over time. While there are no detrimental side effects to taking out-of-date supplements, it may cause some adversities to those who need to adhere to a stringent supplementary diet in order to maintain their overall health.
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