Best Before or Expiry Dates Explained
How long past the expiration/best before date are supplements safe and potent?
Vitamins and supplements have an expiration date assigned at the time of manufacturing. This is done by reputable manufacturers (all supplements we carry have an expiration date). The evidence demonstrating the exact expiration date needed is lacking. What we mean by that is the date is somewhat arbitrary, and is a conservative estimate. In other words, it’s not an exact date based on the potency of a given ingredient being compromised. Rather it’s just that a date is placed on the item, and manufacturers assign a date that is long before the shelf life is compromised. It benefits manufactures to be conservative with this date for a couple of reasons. First it more or less guarantees 100% potency, and it encourages more sales.
The factors that will determine the shelf life of a supplement are, 1) the ingredients/type of supplement 2) where they are stored 3) the initial quality.
1) Items, such as ready to drinks and bars have a much shorter shelf life than vitamins and other dry powders. When stored properly and the initial quality standard are met, one can expect the following:
- Vitamins/minerals, amino acids, and most herbs in a capsule or tablet form remain maximally potent for roughly 2 years after the expiration date.
- Fish and flax oils in a liquid from are not sold past expiration as poly unsaturated fats are not very stable to begin with, and therefore require extra care. Fish oil and EFA capsules are typically stable and potent for up to 6 months after the expiration/sell by date (we recommend refrigerating them after opening).
- Probiotics made from reputable manufacturers are typically dosed much higher than label claims to ensure maximal potency months after manufacturing. Therefore, most are maximally potent, in term of label claim for up to 6 months past the expiration/sell by date.
- Protein powders are good for at least 1 year after expiration. Storing these in a cool and dry place will extend the shelf life greatly (in many cases beyond 1 year after expiration).
- Preworkout and other amino acid powders – Like protein powders, the same can be said for these powders. Sometimes these powders can harden up and clump if they are stored in warm, moist place. In other cases this may happen due to a particular ingredient. We do not sell powders in this condition, unless noted, regardless of the expiration date.
- Fat burners – these fall under the same recommendation as herbal supplements, remain maximally potent for roughly 2 years after expiration.
- Enzymes – these are maximally potent for up to one year after expiration. After that they are not useless, however they will begin to lose potency.
- Skincare/cosmetic products – the expiration dates vary greatly amongst these products. It is safe to assume these remain potent for at least 1 year after expiration.
2) Ensuring supplements are stored in a cool, dry place away from unnecessary light will extend the shelf life. We maintain a temperature controlled warehouse. We keep supplements away from unnecessary light, heat, and moisture.
3) One of the main factors in determining the long term quality and consequent shelf life of a supplement is the initial quality. Supplements are made by reputable manufacturers in a sterile environment. They are tested at the time of manufacturing with a microbial limit, non-essential materials, heavy metals, and pro oxidant residue test.