What Taking Expired Vitamins Does To Your Body

When you start cleaning out cabinets, it's not uncommon to find a bottle or two of old vitamins that you've stopped taking or just forgotten to take altogether. What do you do with them now? Especially if they're expired. Can you begin taking them again, or are you putting your health in jeopardy by doing do?

First of all, it's important to note that the Food & Drug Administration does not regulate dietary supplements, which includes vitamins. They require some labeling, like ingredients, and amounts of each supplement, but do not require an expiration date to be included on the packaging.

That being said, many manufacturers will still include an expiration date or "best by" date on their product. This date is generally a recommendation about when the product will be most effective for use. Vitamins don't just suddenly stop working. Their component ingredients lose effectiveness slowly, but the product does not become completely unsafe to use, according to Healthline.

Here's how to dispose of vitamins you're done taking

So, taking a vitamin that is expired isn't dangerous for your body. It just may not have the effects you're looking for. Dr. Shanna Levine, MD, of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, told Prevention there is one caveat. "Exceptions to this rule are if supplements are stored in wet, hot, or humid areas and produce mold. Moldy vitamins should not be consumed," she said.

Generally, you'll want to store vitamins in a location that is cool and dry. Temperatures that are too hot or cold, or long-term exposure to oxygen or light, can cause vitamins to lose potency more quickly, according to Medical News Today.

Some vitamins, like fish oil, flaxseed, vitamin E, and probiotics, also benefit from being refrigerated to maintain effectiveness.

If you decide you don't want to take the vitamins you have, the FDA recommends disposing of them in a manner that will protect children and pets in the household. Mix the vitamins with used coffee grounds or kitty litter in a sealed container or bag, and throw that entire thing in the garbage.