Do probiotics Expire?

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do probiotics expire?

Let’s say you’ve decided to buy a probiotics product after reading about the amazing benefits they offer. But, do the probiotics displayed on the shelves of grocery or pharmacy stores stay as effective as when they were manufactured? 

Today, we will explore the truth about probiotic shelf life and storage. 

Do probiotics expire?

Yes, probiotics do expire.

How Long Do Probiotics Last?

Probiotic supplements generally have an expiration that is 1-2 years from the date of manufacture.

However, the live organisms in the supplement can possibly die long before the expiry date. 

The storage and handling of probiotics play a major role in how long the probiotics last.

Factors That Make Probiotics Expire Faster

factors that make probiotics expire faster

To ensure the effectiveness of probiotics, it is important to avoid the following factors that can cause them to expire quickly.

  • Heat

Most probiotic bacteria are heat sensitive and will die if they are exposed to high temperatures.

  • Humidity

Humidity can activate probiotics inside the pill. However, the activated bacteria will perish as they lack a food source. Whereas, in your digestive tract, they thrive by feeding on the fibers in the food you consume.

“Store your probiotics in a cool and dry place. But not in your car or the bathroom cabinet because heat and moisture can compromise their survival”.

Do probiotics require refrigeration to extend their shelf life?

do probiotics require refrigeration to extend their shelf life?

Not all products need to be refrigerated.

Shelf-stable probiotics can sit at room temperature

Shelf-stable probiotics can survive at room temperature and maintain a shelf-life of 1-2 years without refrigeration. 

Opting for blister packs or insulated desiccant-lined bottles is recommended as they safeguard probiotic bacteria against humidity and heat exposure, thereby prolonging their shelf life. 

Although they do not need to be refrigerated, it still helps to store them in a cool and dry setting.

Certain probiotics require refrigeration

The reason why certain probiotics require refrigeration while others do not is the fact that different strains of probiotics have varying temperature sensitivity levels. 

For instance, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium probiotics lose their potency more rapidly at room temperature, making it advisable to store them in the refrigerator.

You don’t have to worry about figuring out which product should be put in the fridge since most supplement manufacturers say on the label whether probiotics are shelf stable or require refrigeration.

“Check the manufacturer’s instructions, and be sure to refrigerate all probiotics that need to be put in the fridge”.

What happens if you take expired probiotic supplements?

In one study, researchers evaluated thirty-three expired probiotic products. Although some products maintained viability beyond their expiry date, the majority had significantly lower total CFU counts than necessary for efficacious use.

Therefore, taking the expired product won’t give you any of the health benefits you are hoping for.

On a positive note, they are not likely to cause any harm or illness, apart from usual side effects. So there is no need for concern if you inadvertently ingest an expired supplement.

A simple guide to making sure your probiotics stay longer

  • Check the expiration date before purchasing a probiotic product. It is crucial to use your probiotic supplement before its expiry date to ensure the desired health benefits.
  • Read the storage instructions carefully and store probiotics properly for maximum potency.
  • Store them in a cool and dry place such as a pantry.
  • Avoid removing your supplements from the original packaging and transferring them to a pill case, as this may expose them to temperature fluctuations and moisture.

The bottom line is refrigerated probiotics do not hold any advantage over their shelf-stable counterparts. If stored and handled appropriately, the beneficial bacteria will remain viable until the expiration date mentioned on the label.

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Dr Tun Min is s GP working in NHS UK and writing articles about supplements and vitamins based on personal clinical experience and clinical research.

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