Do Vitamins Ever Really Expire?

Almost everyone is guilty of buying a bottle of vitamins that are either forgotten or replaced by another brand, and often times these just get pushed to the darkest corner under the vanity in your bathroom. When you finally get enough ambition to clean out the years of accumulated hair gels, allergy pills, and vitamin bottles, you may notice that there’s an expiration date that is long overdue stamped on the bottom of the vitamin bottle you were thinking about putting back into circulation for your consumption. If you are like most people, you’ll be wondering “do vitamins ever really expire, or is this more of just a standard guideline?” Though it is true that you will not die or suffer poisoning from expired vitamins and supplements, there are some important details you should know before you swallow one down.

I have the benefit of scouring the internet for several hours and ask doctors and nutritionists in online forums to get a straight answer regarding the expiration dates on vitamin bottles. Since I work from home selling wedding sparklers online, I am in a unique position to hunt down this type of information. Though I did all the leg work and feel confident with my findings, you should always consult a doctor, pharmacist, or nutritionist before taking any supplements that are even moderately questionable.


The number one drawback of taking expired vitamins is that they will be less potent than they were originally intended to be. Though the FDA doesn’t technically require expiration dates on most vitamin and supplement bottles, most reputable brands will put one on there to indicate when the vitamins will no longer be at peak potency. Though most companies are very conservative with this date to sell more vitamins and it won’t hurt you to take them after the expiration date, they will not be as effective and your body won’t absorb the nutrients properly.

Possible Side Effects

Fortunately, vitamins do not go bad like food or other common items that have clear drawbacks when they go bad or become rancid. The only real side effect of taking an expired vitamin is that it will be less potent and may taste a lot bitterer when you swallow it. To avoid letting your vitamins lose their potency, you can follow proper storage techniques. Store them in a cool and dark place where there isn’t much humidity. Some vitamins (especially B vitamins) are extremely sensitive to sunlight, so keep them in the bottle that they were purchased in. Fortunately, under your bathroom sink tackles each of these elements, so you can usually expect them to last longer when stored in a space similar to that.

Disposal of Expired Vitamins

Like all other types of pharmaceuticals, you never want to flush expired vitamins down the toilet. Many metropolitan areas rely on water sanitation plants to purify your tap water, and the tiny nutrients left behind from vitamins can quickly add up in the water supply. Though it’s not as harmful as flushing things like anti-depressants or pain killers, it still isn’t necessary as an addition to the water. The best thing you can do is throw away the expired vitamins mixed in with used coffee grounds, cat litter, or other non-appealing item in a sealed container to avoid animals or children from finding and consuming them out of the trash.