Supplement Expiry Dates
Although mandated for over-the-counter and prescription medications, the FDA does not require supplements to have expiration dates. Regardless, many quality manufacturers voluntarily list expiration dates to express a time frame a product is guaranteed to retain its highest level of potency.
A majority of supplements continue to hold their nutritional value years past their expiration date, especially when stored appropriately. However, each supplement’s shelf life will vary depending on product efficacy, quality of raw materials and exposure to light, humidity and warm temperatures. It is normal for an herbal product to slowly break down with age, but most experts approximate that efficacy begins to diminish about two years following the expiry date. Of course, this extended longevity assumes the following:
- The packaging has not been opened.
- The packaging has been stored in a cool, dark location.
In addition, the following supplements break down more readily and will lose potency more quickly:
- Vitamin B – Vitamin B should be consumed by its expiration date.
- Enzymes – Enzymes slowly weaken with age, remaining potent for about one year past the expiration date.
- Amino Acids – Amino acid supplements slowly weaken with age, remaining potent for about one to two years past the expiration date.
- Fish Oils – Highly perishable, fish oil supplements should be free of heavy metals and pesticides and manufactured, stored and bottled properly to prevent rancidity. Most fish oil supplements need to be refrigerated and will likely spoil approximately three months after their expiration date.
- Probiotics – Because probiotic supplements contain live organisms, they are typically refrigerated. Most probiotic supplements lose potency approximately three months after their expiration date.
- Liquid Supplements – Liquid supplements slowly weaken with age, losing their efficacy about one year past the expiration date.