science

Does Melatonin Expire? Staying Safe When Improving Sleep

Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS

4 min read

a woman getting out of bed but having the comforter still around her

Melatonin is one of the most popular supplements used as a natural sleep aid. How long does it take for melatonin to expire and what’s the best way to store it?

Melatonin is a popular natural sleep aid. Some people make sure to stock up on the supplement so they are never without it for help getting to sleep. But how long can you store melatonin? And what happens when melatonin expires? Let’s investigate melatonin’s shelf life and the best ways to store it for maximum effectiveness.

What is melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone that is produced naturally in the body. The pineal gland’s main job is to make melatonin, and melatonin production is stimulated by the absence of light. As we age, this production can slow down. Melatonin helps support sleep and regulation of our sleep/wake cycle. This is why it has become popular as a non-addictive natural sleep supplement, commonly used by travelers experiencing jet lag or workers who frequently change shift schedules.

Does melatonin really expire?

The short answer is yes, melatonin supplements do expire. However, this doesn’t pose any danger. Instead, as with most supplements, melatonin can become less potent over time and lose its effectiveness.

Can you take expired melatonin? What will happen?

Unlike consuming expired foods, there is no danger in taking expired melatonin supplements. However, it’s important to understand that they may not work as well as fresh melatonin, so you may want to just purchase a new bottle.

If you’re using a supplement in order to maintain healthy levels of a nutrient, it’s important to not use expired supplements. Expired supplements may not be as effective in supplying the levels your body needs. For instance, if you maintain a strict plant-based diet and rely on a supplement of vitamin B12, taking an expired version may not provide the recommended daily amount you need.

How long is melatonin good after its expiration date?

Melatonin won’t necessarily “go bad.” However, after the expiration date, the ingredients will become less potent and the supplement will be less effective for sleep support. Although there’s no harm in taking expired melatonin, the same isn’t the case for fat-based supplements. When it comes to fat-based supplements, the oils used in them can go rancid and shouldn’t be consumed.

How do companies arrive at an expiration date?

Companies want to ensure the potency of the ingredients used in supplements they produce, and including an expiration date helps with this process. Powdered and capsule supplements can have a longer shelf life – even up to two years after the date of manufacturing. Still, a good rule of thumb is to trust the expiration date that the manufacturer has provided.

It’s important to be able to trust the manufacturer. Some ways to look for a quality, trust-worthy supplement brand are by making sure they use quality ingredients and conduct third-party testing. Reach out for guidance if no expiration or “best by'' date is listed on the supplement. At Care/of, we recommend our individual supplement packs be used within four months for maximum effectiveness.

What is the shelf life of melatonin?

Many factors go into maintaining full potency of melatonin, such as the ingredients used, the conditions the melatonin is stored in, and what form of the supplement is made in (liquid, softgel, capsule, etc). The shelf life of melatonin usually ranges from one to three years, but it’s always a good idea to follow the expiration date listed on your specific supplement. If you don’t see a date on your bottle, the general rule of thumb is up to 2 years after purchase. Feel free to reach out to the manufacturer’s customer service department for more information. As a general rule of thumb, if a supplement has drastically changed in color, smell, or texture, it’s best to throw it away and get a new bottle.

How can I extend my melatonin’s shelf life?

There are a few ways you can help keep your melatonin supplements at their most potent:

  • Store out of humidity and away from moisture
  • Keep supplement bottles away from direct sunlight
  • Store in cool, dark place

How long does melatonin last in your body?

How long melatonin stays in your body depends on a number of factors, such as the dosage taken, the health of a person’s kidneys and digestive system, the form of the supplement, and an individual’s metabolism rate. Nearly all melatonin is metabolized by the liver, but research is unclear as to how long it remains in the system. Currently, it’s believed to stay in the system for between 4-10 hours.

Key takeaways

Melatonin supplements can help with short-term sleep issues, like jet lag and shift work. In order to experience the full potency, it’s best to only consume melatonin before its expiration date. Expired melatonin is not harmful to the body, but it may be less effective. Melatonin typically has a shelf life of one to three years, but this can vary based on variables such as how it’s stored and what delivery form is being used. In general, it’s best to only take supplements before their expiration date to enjoy the full benefits and potency.

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