If you Google, “Does melatonin expire,” you may not find a straight answer. This is because the answer is a bit complicated. Melatonin can expire, but it depends on the type, the company, how long you’ve had it, etc. Currently, melatonin expiration has only been studied in pill form. But you can likely use the same guidelines for other types of melatonin as well.
This includes melatonin liquids and vaporizers like the ultra fast-acting melatonin supplements from MELO Labs. The shelf-life of MELO products and other fast-acting liquids and vaporizers is most likely similar to that of pills. Read on to learn the details about whether or not melatonin expires and how the type of melatonin affects its shelf life.
At a glance:
Does Melatonin Expire?
Like other supplements, melatonin doesn’t really “expire” in the sense that it never becomes dangerous to take. It just becomes less potent over time. So, an old bottle of melatonin pills won’t hurt you, but they also probably won’t be as effective as they used to be. The question is, how long will they stay effective? Let’s consider a few different sources.
What The FDA Says
As a dietary supplement, melatonin isn’t required to have an expiration date. The FDA doesn’t regulate these supplements. This means it can be hard to know for sure how long the supplement might still be effective without any information on the label. Shilpa Raut, a research scientist at Amway, claims the shelf-life of vitamins is usually about two years.
Meanwhile, the FDA does require medications to include expiration dates, and they also warn against taking expired medication. The FDA says taking expired medication can be dangerous. Apart from the decreased potency of the medication, they claim expired medicine could change in chemical composition or even develop bacterial growth.
What The Science Says
Despite the warnings from the FDA, some scientific evidence suggests many medications outlive their expiration date. A study from the journal African Health Sciences found a vast majority of drugs worked fine up to 15 years after the printed expiration date.
While not about melatonin specifically, another study was conducted on a box of prescription medication that had been forgotten in the back of a pharmacy closet, many of which were up to 40 years past their expiration date.
Researchers tested 14 compounds found in the drugs to evaluate their effectiveness, finding that 12 of the 14 were "still as potent as they were when they were manufactured, some at almost 100 percent of their labeled concentrations."
Some even contend that putting expiration dates on drugs is more about increasing profits than looking out for consumer safety. The thinking goes that people will discard perfectly good prescriptions in order to buy more. But that's just a theory, of course.
How Melatonin Fits in the Picture
We’ve looked at the shelf-life of vitamins and drugs, but melatonin is not a vitamin or a drug. It’s a naturally occurring hormone produced in the brain’s pineal gland that regulates our sleep wake cycles. As such, it’s a great option to treat jet lag, but it can also help promote sleep in those with occasional insomnia.
Unfortunately, there’s not much research on the shelf-life of melatonin supplements. As a natural hormone, it’s an organic compound – like a vitamin. This suggests it may have a similar shelf-life to that of vitamins.
It’s also worth considering that many melatonin supplements are mislabeled, containing a different amount of melatonin than what’s on the label. For this reason, you should always look for supplements that have been third party tested, so you can feel confident that the label is accurate. For example, all of the melatonin products from MELO Labs are third party tested.
Melatonin is considered well-tolerated and safe, meaning side effects are relatively uncommon and mild at worst.
What Happens if You Take Expired Melatonin?
Taking expired melatonin isn't like eating week-old sushi. You're probably not going to get sick. That's because there generally won't be any fat that can become rancid in a melatonin capsule or tablet. Gummies, on the other hand, do contain more "stuff" that could potentially shorten their shelf life. We cover this in more detail below, but just know that gummies will probably have a shorter shelf life than pills or capsules.
The one caveat beyond the note about gummies would be if the melatonin has been stored in a humid environment and has developed noticeable mold. Mold can hurt you.
That specific circumstance aside, there's very little danger in taking melatonin even a couple years past its expiration date. However, as mentioned above, the biggest "risk" you face in taking expired melatonin is that it will have lost its effectiveness. So if you notice the effects aren't kicking in like you're used to, time might be the culprit.
How the Type of Melatonin Affects Its Shelf Life
Melatonin supplements come in a wide variety of forms. Though more research is needed on all of these, let’s take a look at what we know about the shelf-life of different types of supplements.
As with dietary supplements, most melatonin supplements are pills. But what about their shelf-life? Pills tend to be very dry, which helps them last longer. If they become contaminated by moisture, they can grow mold or bacteria, but as long as they’re kept dry and cool, they should last about as long as vitamin pills.
Unlike pills, gummies can absorb a lot of moisture, and they also tend to contain sugar. For these reasons, gummies may not last as long as pills. Research scientist Shilpa Raut says gummies and other chewable supplements absorb more moisture from their environments, shortening their shelf-life (especially after a bottle is opened).
Melatonin gummies will probably last up to a year or longer if kept well, but depending on the other ingredients in the gummies and the conditions to which they’re exposed, you may not want to try a gummy that’s older than a few years.
Liquids are absorbed by the body much more quickly and fully than pills, according to an article from Medicare Europe. They are also easier to take than pills, making them a great choice overall for all your supplement needs.
However, liquids tend to have a shorter shelf-life than pills, in part because it’s impossible to keep them dry. Still, if they’re stored in a cool place where they don’t absorb additional moisture, they should last up to a year or longer.
If you prefer to drink your melatonin, you do have other options. MELO Sip is a powdered drink that comes in small individually-wrapped packets. The fact that the supplement is kept dry helps to extend its shelf-life. All you need to do is add it to a glass of water whenever you’d like to drink it.
In addition to 4 mg of melatonin, MELO Sip also contains valerian root, chamomile, GABA, l-theanine, all of which can help you fall asleep. It also has numerous vitamins and minerals that help promote a good night’s sleep. It works quickly and tastes great, much better than melatonin tinctures.
Melatonin vaporizers are relatively new, and as such, they haven’t been thoroughly studied. However, we do know that vaporizers work very fast: They’re the fastest-acting option you have when it comes to taking melatonin. We also know they are generally safe to use as long as they don’t contain any harmful ingredients.
MELO Air melatonin vaporizers contain just three ingredients: melatonin, organic vegetable glycerin, and natural flavors. They don’t have anything known to be harmful when inhaled. They come in a wide variety of popular flavors, and you’ll feel the effects almost right away.
It’s difficult to say what the shelf-life of these products is, but since they contain oil, they most likely don’t last as long as pills (or powdered drinks like MELO Sip). If they’re kept well, they should last up to a year. On the other hand, if they work well for you, they most likely won’t last nearly that long!
How to Make Your Melatonin Last Longer
No matter what form your melatonin takes, there are some things you can do to ensure you maximize its shelf life. As a general rule, you want to keep your melatonin away from heat, light and moisture. The best place for it is some place cool and dry.
The study from African Health Sciences (mentioned above) also determined that the medicine cabinets commonly found in bathrooms are, ironically, not a good place to store medicine. They’re exposed to too much heat and humidity.
The best state any melatonin can be stored in is sealed — i.e. an unopened bottle of pills or jar of gummies or, best yet, sealed pouches of drink mix like you get with MELO Sip. Since you unseal each serving one at a time, and the mix stays protected in the sealed packaging until you need it, you're able to get maximum shelf life.
Use MELO Labs for All Your Melatonin Needs
As we’ve seen, the expiration of melatonin is complicated. Most melatonin supplements will last at least one to two years if they’re kept in a cool and dry environment. Some evidence suggests supplements can actually last a lot longer than that, but all supplements lose their potency eventually. Thankfully, taking expired melatonin won’t hurt you.
The type of melatonin supplement also matters. Pills tend to have a long shelf-life, but they also tend to be one of the less effective options. Melatonin liquids and vaporizers may have a similar shelf-life, and they’ll also work more quickly and efficiently.
This is because pills take a long time to be fully absorbed, and they don’t have great bioavailability. In fact, a clinical trial from the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found melatonin pills on average had 15% bioavailability. That’s way less than even half the dose you think you’re getting. Additionally, pills can take up to two hours to be absorbed.
If you want the most fast-acting melatonin supplements, try the supplements from MELO Labs. They’re so fast-acting and effective that you won’t need to worry about when they expire, because you’ll actually use them!