Are you wondering if it’s safe to take expired milk thistle supplements?
You’re not alone. Many people are unsure about the effectiveness and safety of using supplements past their expiration date.
While some supplements can lose their potency and efficacy over time, others may remain effective for years after their expiration date.
In this article, we’ll explore the shelf life of milk thistle supplements and other nutritional supplements, and provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision about whether or not to use expired supplements.
So, let’s dive in and find out if you can take expired milk thistle!
Can I Take Expired Milk Thistle?
The short answer is yes, you can take expired milk thistle supplements. However, it’s important to note that the potency and effectiveness of the supplement may have decreased over time.
Milk thistle supplements should be stored in a cool, dry place and kept out of direct sunlight. The seal should always be tight, and they should be kept out of reach of pets and children. Once they reach their expiration date listed on the label, it’s recommended to discard them.
While the FDA does not require supplements to have expiration dates, many quality manufacturers voluntarily list them to express a time frame a product is guaranteed to retain its highest level of potency. It’s important to note that each supplement’s shelf life will vary depending on product efficacy, quality of raw materials, and exposure to light, humidity, and warm temperatures.
It’s normal for an herbal product to slowly break down with age, but most experts approximate that efficacy begins to diminish about two years following the expiry date. However, if the packaging has not been opened and has been stored in a cool, dark location, taking a recently expired supplement may be just as valuable as taking one that was just produced.
Understanding Milk Thistle Supplements
Milk thistle extract is commonly used as a dietary supplement to support liver function and promote overall health. When taken by mouth, milk thistle extract is generally considered safe for most people. However, in some people, taking milk thistle extract can cause diarrhea, nausea, intestinal gas, fullness, loss of appetite, and possibly headache.
It’s important to note that milk thistle supplements should be stored properly to ensure their potency and effectiveness. They should be kept in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight, and the seal should always be tight. Additionally, they should be kept out of reach of pets and children.
While it may be safe to use a nutritional supplement after the expiration date has passed, it’s recommended to discard milk thistle supplements once they reach their expiration date listed on the label. This is because they lose their potency and effectiveness as they age.
It’s also important to note that milk thistle supplements may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to the Asteraceae (Ragweed) plant family. If you experience any adverse reactions after taking milk thistle extract, it’s recommended to discuss with your primary health provider or pharmacist for proper advice or if you feel unwell or sick.
What Does The Expiration Date Mean?
The expiration date on a milk thistle supplement represents the manufacturer’s guarantee of the product’s efficacy and safety up to that date. It’s important to note that this does not necessarily mean that the supplement is not stable after the expiration date, but rather that it is stable in a sealed container with full potency up to that date.
Manufacturers must perform stability tests to determine active ingredient degradation over time in order to set an expiration date. The FDA requires that manufacturers who put an expiration date on their products can prove that the product maintains the original potency listed on the label until the stamped expiration date.
While milk thistle supplements may maintain potency for 1-2 years following their expiration date, it’s recommended to discard them once they reach their expiration date listed on the label. This is because the potency and effectiveness of the supplement may have decreased over time, and it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health.
How Long Does Milk Thistle Last?
Milk thistle supplements, like many other herbal supplements, do not have a specific expiration date. Instead, they have a suggested “best by” or “use by” date that is typically one to two years after the manufacturing date. However, the potency and effectiveness of the supplement may decrease over time, especially if it is not stored properly.
The shelf life of milk thistle supplements will depend on several factors, including the quality of the raw materials used, the manufacturing process, and the storage conditions. Milk thistle supplements should be kept in a cool, dry place and away from direct sunlight. Exposure to heat, humidity, or light can cause the supplement to degrade more quickly.
If you have an expired milk thistle supplement, it’s best to check its appearance and smell before consuming it. If the supplement has lost its vibrant color and potent aroma, it may have lost some of its efficacy. However, if the packaging has not been opened and has been stored properly, taking a recently expired supplement may still be beneficial.
Factors That Affect The Shelf Life Of Milk Thistle
The shelf life of milk thistle supplements can be affected by several factors. The quality of raw materials, exposure to light, humidity, and warm temperatures are all important factors to consider.
The quality of raw materials used in the production of milk thistle supplements can impact their shelf life. If the herb was not grown, harvested, dried, or processed properly, it may not retain its potency for as long as a supplement made from high-quality raw materials.
Exposure to light can also impact the potency of milk thistle supplements. Direct sunlight can cause the supplement to degrade much quicker than if it was stored in a cool, dry place and sealed tightly. Humidity and warm temperatures can also cause the supplement to degrade more quickly. It’s important to store milk thistle supplements in a sealed container in a cool, dry place to ensure their longevity.
It’s difficult to pin down an exact expiration date for most single herbs, including milk thistle, as they do not really expire. Instead, they lose potency or strength over time but will still have value. A good rule of thumb is that herbs should be stored no longer than 2-3 years but many herbs will have great strength much longer than that.
To determine if a milk thistle supplement is still good, you can check its appearance and aroma. Supplements that are no longer acceptable will have lost much of their vibrant color and will instead appear dull and faded. The bigger key though is to smell the supplement to see if the potent aroma is still present.
Risks And Benefits Of Taking Expired Milk Thistle
Taking a single dose of expired milk thistle extract is unlikely to produce an adverse event. However, it’s important to discuss with your primary health provider or pharmacist for proper advice or if you feel unwell or sick. Expired milk thistle supplements may be less effective, but they are not considered dangerous.
The benefits of taking expired milk thistle supplements are that they may still provide some level of support for liver health and function. Milk thistle is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may help protect the liver from damage caused by toxins and free radicals.
However, the risks of taking expired milk thistle supplements are that they may not provide the intended level of support for liver health and function. The potency and effectiveness of the supplement may have decreased over time, making it less beneficial than a fresh supply.