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Is Expired Vitamin C Dangerous?

by
author image Melodie Anne
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.
Is Expired Vitamin C Dangerous?
Avoid taking expired vitamin C since it may not be as potent. Photo Credit jo unruh/iStock/Getty Images

Vitamin C is a vital part of your daily diet since it is water-soluble and your body uses what it needs and excretes the rest. While you should get enough vitamin C from fruits, vegetables and juice, in some cases you may need to take a vitamin C supplement. Always check the expiration date on any supplement or medication. Expired vitamin C may not be dangerous, but it may not be as effective or as easily absorbed because it has been sitting for an extended period of time.

Functions of Vitamin C

Vitamin C plays several important roles in your body, chiefly its ability to keep your immune system working at its best. Having adequate vitamin C in your system protects cells and tissues throughout your body by deactivating free radicals. These harmful substances scavenge through your bloodstream and causing permanent damage, which increases your risk of chronic disease such as cancer. Vitamin C also aids in collagen formation. Collagen is a structural component of cell walls, connective tissue and the walls of veins and arteries. Getting adequate vitamin C daily allows veins and arteries to fully dilate so that blood can flow freely.

Supplements

You can get vitamin C in a variety of over-the-counter forms, including multivitamins, chewable tablets, powder and liquid solutions. Women need 75 milligrams of vitamin C daily while men require 90 milligrams, reports the Office of Dietary Supplements. Even though vitamin C is relatively safe in large doses, you should avoid consuming too much. Ingesting more than than 2,000 milligrams daily, which is the maximum amount you should have, may cause gastrointestinal distress, including gas, abdominal cramping and diarrhea.

Safety After Expiration

Check the expiration on the package before you purchase it to ensure the date is not right around the corner. Expired supplements are probably safe, just not effective. Your expired vitamin C supplements may not have the same effect and benefits they did when they were fresh. Where you store your supplements also comes into play. Keeping them in the bathroom, where there is lots of humidity, can also affect potency by making them "age" sooner than the expiration date.

Discarding Expired Vitamins

Discard your expired vitamin C supplements in a responsible manner. Throwing them in the trash may give your children access to them, and flushing them down the drain can pollute groundwater. Your local pharmacy or community may have a program that accepts expired vitamins, so they can dispose of them properly. The Office of National Drug Control Policy suggests mixing your expired supplement with an undesirable substance, such as cat litter or used coffee grounds. Place the mixture into a sealable bag or container with a lid. At this point you can dispose of it in your regular trash receptacle.

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