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Do Vitamins Expire?

(December 20, 2010)

Do vitamins expire

We tend to read manufacture and expiration dates on drugs and other oral medications very carefully. Constant reminders by pharmacies and medical experts have made us aware of the dangers of consuming expired drugs. Not only can expired drugs turn toxic but over a period, they also tend to lose their potency. In such a scenario, compromised drugs may actually help the disease causing bacteria to turn immune to these expired drugs. The next time you medicate yourself, you may find the very same drugs less effective at healing your condition.

Despite understanding these facts about expired drugs, many individuals still ask the following question: Do vitamins expire? The truth is just like different medication, vitamins also have an expiration date. Most pharmaceutical companies will package your vitamin supplements with information regarding manufacture, expiry, storage, and disposal instructions. Always read and follow these instructions carefully.

However, many vitamin manufacturers or suppliers may not choose to provide you with a vitamin expiration date. They are not legally bound to do so, and this should caution you to differentiate between good quality manufacturers and suppliers who provide you with information over ones that do not choose to inform. So can vitamins expire? Like their medicinal counterparts, many vitamin supplements will lose their effectiveness once they are past their expiry date. While they may not pose a health hazard, consuming vitamins past expiration will not provide you with the intended benefits. Increased dosages of expired vitamins cannot help either. If the vitamin supplements you consume are prescription based, it is best to avoid expired vitamins. With decreased potency, these vitamin supplements will not be able to provide recommended doses of vitamin. While side-effects of taking expired vitamins are rare, you must definitely avoid vitamins that have changed color or smell different.

When it comes to storage, it is important that you store all vitamin and mineral supplements according to specified instructions. If possible, store all your medicines in a locked cabinet. Avoid leaving vitamin supplements on the kitchen counter. You may also use child resistant vitamin boxes for daily use. Most medicine cabinets are located in hot, humid places like the bathroom. This may cause vitamin supplements to turn damp and reduce their potency. The best way to store vitamin supplements is to keep them in a dry, cool place out of children’s reach. With regard to disposal, vitamins and supplements thrown out without proper care may enter the ecological system causing future health hazards. Many individuals dispose of their vitamins by flushing it down the drain. This is an unsafe practice since the vitamins may enter the wastewater treatment plants, which are not equipped to treat and filter medicines or vitamin supplements. They may enter rivers, streams or lakes posing a risk to flora and fauna and the community at large.

Here are a few guidelines to disposing expired vitamins:–

• Do not flush them down the drain or toilet unless specified on the packaging.
• Conceal personal information (contact or insurance details) on the packaging with a black marker before disposing of vitamin supplement bottles.
• Empty the vitamins into a disposable box with a lid. Mix them with products like used coffee grinds, cat litter, and so on to avoid animals or prying children. Seal the container and put disposable box and medicine container into a plastic bag before emptying it into the trash.
• Ensure that you empty your trash bag as close to garbage take out day as possible to avoid any spills or accidents.

Submitted by R B on December 20, 2010 at 10:41


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