Do Probiotics Expire?

Gut health affects many aspects of your physical and mental health and is dependent on a healthy diversity of bacteria (via Healthline). When you have a balanced variety of good bacteria in your gut, it positively impacts your digestion, immune system, blood sugar levels, cardiovascular health, and mood, per Healthline.

One of the many ways you can improve your gut health is by introducing probiotics into your diet. Found in yogurt, raw sauerkraut, kombucha, and capsule supplements, probiotics are comprised of good bacteria that support a healthy gut microbiome (via Everday Health). They can even fight off bad bacteria, according to registered dietitian and microbiome researcher at Cleveland Clinic Children's, Gail Cresci, Ph.D. She explained to Forbes that certain probiotics "can produce antimicrobial peptides and proteins that help fight opportunistic bacteria in the gut. We eat and drink bad bacteria all the time, but typically, we don't get sick, and that's because of the good bacteria inside us."

Even though you can find these gut-friendly microorganisms in certain foods, you may choose to take supplements for the sake of convenience. But before you start stocking up, you may want to consider how long your bottle of probiotics will be good for and whether or not they expire.

Probiotics can expire

While some people like to buy in bulk and keep a stockpile of nonperishable items like shampoo, pasta, and canned soup in their pantry, you may want to only buy one bottle of probiotic supplements at a time, as they do in fact expire. Dr. Kim Langdon, a clinical adviser at digital health startup Medzino told Insider, "Probiotics are living bacteria and will be subject to inactivity over time. It's best to discard them based on the manufacturer's guideline, which is usually one year." Some probiotics require refrigeration but even if your particular brand doesn't, you may want to store them in a cool, dry place to maximize their shelf life (via Insider).

According to Livestrong, ingesting expired probiotic supplements won't necessarily cause any adverse effects or illness but they also won't provide health benefits. This is evidenced by a 2020 study published in FEMS Microbes that concluded that while certain probiotics within the study still retained some potency after their expiration date, it was not enough to truly have an effective impact on your gut health.