Do Probiotics Expire?

Probiotics expire over time and this reduces their efficacy

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Do probiotics expire? The answer is yes, but not all probiotics expire at the same time. In general, probiotics lose their potency over time, so it’s important to check the expiration date on your bottle or box and replace them regularly.

There is an expiration date on probiotic supplements. All probiotic supplements are required by law to have a clearly marked expiration date on the container. This gives probiotic consumers a better idea of how long their product will last.

Do probiotics live past their expiration date?

Sometimes, live probiotics die before the actual expiration date. As a result, the effectiveness of a probiotic supplement dies off with it.

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help keep the gut healthy. They can be found in certain foods, and they are also available as supplements. Probiotics have many potential health benefits, including improved digestion and immune system function. However, not all probiotics are created equal. In order to be effective, a probiotic supplement must contain live bacteria. If the probiotics expire before the bacteria die, then the probiotics will no longer be effective.

It is not known how long probiotics stay alive after the expiration date. Some studies have found that certain probiotic strains of bacteria can remain viable for several months, while others only survive for a few days. Probiotic supplements are typically formulated with multiple strains of bacteria, so it is possible that some strains may die off while others remain alive.

Even if a probiotic supplement contains live bacteria, there is no guarantee that it will be effective. The number of live bacteria present in a supplement may not be high enough to confer any health benefits.

Always check the expiration date before taking your probiotic supplements
Always check the expiration date before taking your probiotic supplements

Do probiotics live past their expiration date? 

People often ask whether probiotics still work after the expiration date on the label. The answer is yes – as long as they have been stored correctly. Probiotics should be kept in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. If they are stored this way, they will stay effective for up to two years past the expiration date.

What is the shelf life of probiotics?

The average shelf life for most probiotics is two years. When you want to do a self-check of a supplement’s shelf life, simply look at the date that’s printed on the blister pack, bottle or on the box.

Most probiotic supplements, at the very least, contain one of two of the following probiotic strains: Bifidobacterium or Lactobacillus. Both of these bacterial strains have different storage requirements and shelf lives. For instance, certain supplements don’t last long in environments with too much heat or light.

The way you store and handle your probiotic supplements can impact the length of their shelf life. The handling part begins when you leave the store. How you transport them from the store to your home even plays a role in its mortality rate.

Most probiotics are shelf-stable and do not require refrigeration. This is due to them being scientifically formulated using various techniques which help protect and nourish the probiotics so they arrive alive.
Normal ambient temperatures are not of great concern for our products, but there is no harm to storing them in the refrigerator if you prefer.

When exactly do probiotics expire?

Probiotics are live microorganisms and, as such, probiotics expire. However, the expiry date is not always clear. In general, probiotics will be good for three to six months after the manufacturing date. However, this time frame may be different depending on the specific product. It is important to check the expiration date of the probiotic product before consuming it.

Probiotics are only useful when they enter your system alive. Probiotic supplements that are worth taking should include between 10 and 20 billion live bacteria. The number of probiotics that are still alive as the expiration date approaches may differ from the CFU (colony-forming units) count listed on the back of the box. The amount of live probiotics per dosage of a supplement is indicated by the term CFU.

Shelf-stable probiotics, in particular, have a two-year average shelf life. According to the experts, supplements that lack this property may only last a year. Most probiotics are shelf stable, meaning they retain their potency from the time they are manufactured until the end of their expiration date.

Always check the blister pack to ensure there is no damage to the product. If there is - dispose of the product
Always check the blister pack to ensure there is no damage to the product. If there is – dispose of the product

What can cause probiotics to ‘die off’?

Three big contributing factors to the survivability of probiotics are high heat, exposure to moisture, and stomach acid.

Heat exposure, however, reduces survival, and fluctuating temperature is also an issue. They want to live in a rather stable habitat. Moisture is another issue that probiotics struggle with. They are inactive when in the form of powder in a capsule, but become active when moisture is introduced.

They will not be able to thrive and will die if they are not in the digestive system. It is critical to keep the probiotics cool and dry. This is especially crucial for strains such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, two types of beneficial bacteria typically found in probiotic supplements.

Both of these bacterial strains originated in the human intestines, which is an area of the body that is ideal for their ongoing survival due to its steady temperature and favourable environment for the bacteria to thrive.

When it comes to probiotic survival, packaging and shipping methods make a major difference. Most  Probiotics are packaged in distinctive blister cards that prevent moisture exposure and are sealed airtight to protect your supplements from moisture and excess oxygen.

Shipping methods are also very important. Making sure that probiotic supplements are shipped insulated on ice making sure they stay cool and protected is key to their survival. Even though they may be “Shelf-Stable”, which is considered room temperature, the shipping truck and transfer stations can reach very high heat temperatures that are much higher than “Room-Temperature”.

Protecting the probiotics in this manner may increase their viability and shelf life.

After taking the probiotic supplement, high stomach acid levels may result in an early loss of live probiotics. High stomach acid is required for proper digestion of the nutrients we eat. Although it performs well in terms of food digestion, most bacteria in the food do not survive the stomach acid. Probiotic supplements produce comparable results.

After taking a probiotic supplement for the first time, the live bacteria must effectively pass through your stomach acid to reach their final destination: your gut. Most probiotic supplements include billions of probiotic colony-forming units because the number of living organisms decreases as they pass through the stomach acid. To promote improved survival, the probiotic supplement must include a protected delivery system.

Are expired probiotics harmful?

Don’t be alarmed if you accidentally consumed a batch of expired probiotics. Taking outdated probiotics will not make you sick or kill you, but dead probiotics are basically useless. If most of the bacteria die before intake, you will not reap the full benefits of probiotic supplements. It defeats the purpose of taking probiotics, to begin with.

Dead probiotic bacteria would not be able to cling to your gut walls. In the absence of live probiotics after intake, the good bacteria would be swamped by the bad.

Never take probiotics unless you have checked the expiration date, even if the blister pack looks fine
Never take probiotics unless you have checked the expiration date, even if the blister pack looks fine

Are there any ways to extend the life of probiotics

There are several ways to extend the life of the probiotics within the guided date of use.

Firstly, control the environment in which you store your probiotics within. Never too hot or too cold. Chilled is the ideal environment. So whilst it is not essential for some probiotics, placing them in the fridge is not a bad idea.

Secondly, keeping probiotics away from moisture can break down the packaging as well as the probiotics themselves.

Thirdly, if you are transporting probiotics, ensure they are in a safe, strong and waterproof container. This will stop them from getting damaged and weaken the integrity of the probiotic housing – be that a capsule or tablet coating.

What should you do if your probiotics have expired

If you have a bottle of probiotics that has expired, it is best to discard it. Probiotics are living organisms and when they expire, they can no longer do their job of keeping your gut healthy. The bacteria in probiotics will have died off and if they are ingested after they have expired it will confer no benefits at all.

If you are unsure about whether or not to discard a probiotic supplement, it is best to contact the manufacturer for guidance.

Should you replace your probiotics every few months

Most probiotics are designed to be taken for a few weeks or months and then discontinued. But some experts believe that certain probiotic strains can be beneficial for long-term use and that it may be necessary to periodically replace them.

In conclusion

There is still much research to be done on probiotics and the gut microbiome, but if you are considering taking them for long-term use, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional to find a product that is right for you and to make sure you are taking it safely.

As researchers learn more about the gut microbiome, they are discovering that its composition is not static- it can change over time in response to diet, environment, lifestyle, and even stress. And one of the ways it can be changed is by taking probiotics- live bacteria or yeast supplements that are thought to promote healthy gut flora.

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