In a word: yes.  The majority of ingredients in supplements decompose gradually over time, making your vitamin supplement less potent, but not necessarily unsafe.  As supplements are manufactured using a combination of different ingredients, these ingredients can naturally weaken over time.

Potency power

Vitamin bottles may or may not come with expiration dates, as expiration dates are required by law for medications but not for vitamins and dietary supplements.  Supplement companies can choose to include expiration dates to better help you determine when a bottle is too old.  You may also notice “use by” or “best by” dates that can serve as a helpful timetable. Using vitamins past a posted expiration date will not be harmful, but can be less potent depending on how far past the expiration date. [1]  To make sure you are getting all the vitamin you think you are (and that you paid for) it is take your supplement as needed or as suggested by the bottle directions or by your doctor, and to use it up prior to the expiration date.

It is generally best to not take anything more than 2 years past the expiration date.  However, you want to immediately discard any vitamin that has changed color, smells differently, has grown mold, or shows signs of any physical difference from when you initially opened the bottle.[2]

Generally, liquid supplements tend to be more fragile than pills and can lose their potency faster.  If your vitamins are oils or liquids, you want to ensure that these are as fresh as possible. Ddrops liquid vitamin D are very stable by design, as they typically have a shelf-life of 4 years past the time of manufacturing.

Prolonging potency

You can help prolong the potency of your vitamins by the way you store them.  You want to store them in a cool, dry place, away from heat, light, and humidity.  While most of us probably keep our supplements in the kitchen or bathroom, that is exactly where you need to be careful about temperature and humidity, as the kitchen gets hot from cooking and the bathroom gets humid from showering. We recommend keeping Ddrops®, on you bedside table, in a pantry or cabinet, and do not require refrigeration . It is always best to carefully read the label.  Only keep supplements in the fridge if specially stated on the bottle.

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**Please note, that this article refers to vitamin supplements only and does not refer to the expiration dates on any prescribed or over-the-counter medications.

Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD, CDN is a Ddrops guest blogger.  She is a registered dietitian-nutritionist and owner of BZ Nutrition, a private nutrition counseling practice in New York City.  She works with clients to help them reach a variety of health goals and specializes in women’s nutrition, digestive disorders, heart health, weight loss, and general wellness.  Brigitte is a contributing nutrition expert for SELF and has been quoted in Women’s Health, Shape, Cosmopolitan, and New Beauty.  She loves to go for brunch in her West Village neighborhood, and always eats her eggs with the yolks! You can stay in touch by following her as @BZNutrition on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook

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[1] Harvard Health Publishing. Harvard Medical School. Drug Expiration Dates-Do they Mean Anything? Accessed on November 1, 2017. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/drug-expiration-dates-do-they-mean-anything

[2] The New York Times. Ask Well: Vitamin Expiration Dates. O’Conner, A. Posted July 20, 2015. Accessed on November 1, 2017. https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/20/ask-well-vitamin-expiration-dates/