Consumers seeking a natural sleep aid often turn to melatonin to help regulate their sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin is a popular sleep supplement, considered safe for most people. In this article, we address common questions about whether expired melatonin is safe to use and share tips on maintaining its potency.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain, and helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythm. Darkness at night stimulates melatonin production, while light exposure can hinder it.
As people age, natural, normal levels of melatonin tend to decline. Synthetic melatonin can consumed as a supplement to combat decreasing levels of melatonin. Also, melatonin helps short-term sleep problems and has become popular, non-addictive sleep supplement, with dosages typically ranging from 1 to 5 milligrams an hour before bedtime.
Does melatonin actually expire?
Yes, melatonin supplements do expire. Different formats, like melatonin pills, tablets or gummies, may have varying expiration dates. Melatonin gummies, due to their moisture and sugar content, may not last as long as pills. Check the supplement label for manufacturing and expiration dates. There is insufficient research to determine what happens when melatonin expires. More research needs to be conducted on the risks of using expired melatonin. That said, consuming expired melatonin does not necessarily suggest it has harmful effects if ingested. However, it is more likely that expired melatonin may lose its effectiveness over time.
How long does melatonin last?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies melatonin as a dietary supplement and as such, melatonin may not have an FDA-required expiration date. Manufacturers establish shelf life through stability testing. Dietary supplement manufacturers may opt out of stability testing, or they may instead include a date of manufacture while they conduct stability testing to determine an expiration date.
If there's no expiration date, look for the date of manufacture. Avoid using the product beyond two years. While it may not be dangerous to consume beyond two years, it’s generally advisable to consume the product while it is fresh and before its expiration date for maximum efficacy.
Purchase your melatonin product from a trustworthy manufacturer. Some basic criteria to look for in your supplement manufacturer are that their products are produced in a facility that follows Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), as outlined by the FDA. Additionally, the supplement manufacturer should conduct third-party testing to ensure there are no harmful levels of contaminants in the products. If a manufacturer is new to the market, they can still be trustworthy, but make sure they have third-party testing done. An expiration date may not yet be available with new manufacturers, as they would need to conduct stability testing, which can take months, to determine an expiration date. Instead, look for a date of manufacture on these newer products.
Extend the shelf life of melatonin with proper storage
It is advisable to adhere to the shelf life as determined by the manufacturer of your melatonin supplement. Melatonin should be stored away from direct sunlight, in a cool, dry place to maximize its shelf life.
If you have any questions about the best way to store melatonin or any other dietary supplement, contact the manufacturer or consult a pharmacist.
Does expired melatonin work?
Expired melatonin becomes less effective over time, although it may still work. However, to ensure optimal efficacy, it's advisable to use a fresh product and replace expired melatonin, especially if you struggle with sleep.
What happens if I take expired melatonin?
While it may be safe to take expired melatonin if it’s been properly stored, it's best to avoid it as it may have lost some efficacy. In general, it is advised to avoid using expired supplements. For effective results, consider purchasing a new bottle if your melatonin has expired.
Dispose of Expired Melatonin
Simply discard your melatonin through your at-home disposal. For safe disposal of expired melatonin at home, place it in a sealed plastic bag or container before throwing it away. This prevents accidental misuse by children, pets, or others.
Melatonin is commonly used for sleep issues related to jet lag, changing work schedules, or occasional insomnia. To benefit fully, take melatonin before its expiration date, which varies between products, but is generally recommended within two years. Properly store your melatonin to maximize its shelf life and health benefits. If you have any questions on how to use your melatonin, contact the manufacturer of your product or a pharmacist for assistance.