Are expired multivitamins safe?
June 26, 2008 10:17 AM   Subscribe

Is it safe to take multivitamins that are past their expiration date?

I bought some multivitamins a couple years ago but never got in a successful habit of taking them everyday. I would like to try again. But the expiration date on the bottle says 12/06. Is it actually dangerous (or useless) to take these pills?

I know it would be best to just buy some new vitamins, but they are somewhat expensive and I'd prefer to not make another investment knowing how well I stuck with it last time.
posted by wabashbdw to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: They are generally safe, but do lose potency. Ones as old as you say are probably useless by now.
posted by Grither at 10:28 AM on June 26, 2008

This will depend substantially on how you stored them. If they were in a warm, humid cabinet, then I would toss them and get new ones. If they were in a cool dry place I would suspect they are ok but I would question whether I'm getting the promised nutrition and whether any chemical breakdowns might offset the health benefits.
posted by crapmatic at 10:32 AM on June 26, 2008

Best answer: Previously.
posted by hooray at 10:42 AM on June 26, 2008

I had some multivitamins that were a year old and kept taking them infrequently. Nothing bad happened, but I have no idea if they did any good, because as Grither said, they do lose potency. Eventually they started to smell funny and got little green specks on them so I threw them out.

These old pills while not being as potent, may help you get in the rhythm of taking one every day.

If you do decide to purchase new ones, ignore the "bigger is a better bargain" mindset. Get a small bottle, a months worth? and if you can stick to it then get some more, but don't waste your money on giant bulk bottles if you think you might have a problem finishing them.

Another hint, sometimes you don't need a multivitamin. I generally eat okay, but my trouble area is iron so instead of taking a whole multivitamin I just take an iron supplement. Has helped so far.
posted by silkygreenbelly at 10:44 AM on June 26, 2008

I don't about vitamins per se, but a doctor friend of mine told me that prescription drugs, a year past their 'expired date,' were perfectly fine to take. I'd imagine the same is true for vitamins.
posted by zenpop at 10:48 AM on June 26, 2008

i don't think expired vitamins or medications will harm you - it's just that they will lose potency and not have the desired effect.
posted by gnutron at 12:12 PM on June 26, 2008

echoing silkygreenbelly, if you get a new bottle, go with a small one even if it's more per pill -- also, when I got back into the multivitamin habit I went with kids' gummi vitamins, which are silly, but I TAKE them, which is more than I can say about the horsepills I had (and threw out) before that.
posted by epersonae at 12:25 PM on June 26, 2008

They're not dangerous, possibly useless. Eat them, if your pee is bright yellow, then they're working.
posted by wongcorgi at 12:56 PM on June 26, 2008

Multivitamis are not natural, I'm convinced they are not helpful in any ways.
posted by armadillo at 10:55 PM on June 26, 2008

If they are oil based, then I'd toss them. Things like Vitamin E, Flax Seed Oil, and Omegas go rancid. If they are standard hard pills - they are probably not fully potent, but probably not going to do you any harm.

Children's multivitamins can be a good way to establish the habit. Here at the Casa de 26.2, we're big fans of the Centrum Dora the Explorer pills. If you check the label the adult and children's vitamins are often nutritionally identical. Children's vitamins are also usually cheaper.
posted by 26.2 at 8:53 AM on June 27, 2008

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