Why Do Dietary Supplements Have a Use By Date

February 2014, Xtend-Life Expert

Summary

‘Use by date’ technically means the last date at which a product is considered to be safe, stable, and maintain the full efficacy promised on the label under normal storage conditions. After this the product may start degrading. Food manufacturers are often very concerned about their products becoming rancid too soon after production. As a result, they have no qualms about pumping in chemicals, preservatives and additives that will extend the use by date of the product.

‘Use by date’ technically means the last date at which a product is considered to be safe, stable, and maintain the full efficacy promised on the label under normal storage conditions.  After this the product may start degrading.

Food manufacturers are often very concerned about their products becoming rancid too soon after production. As a result, they have no qualms about pumping in chemicals, preservatives and additives that will extend the use by date of the product.

Whereas most food products tend to last for anything from a day to several months, depending on a variety of factors such as preservatives, chemicals, additives and packaging... supplements like those manufactured by Xtend-Life tend to have around two-year shelf lives and are still fine to take well after their use by date, albeit with reduced efficacy.

This is because at Xtend-Life, we use extracts, dry powders, minerals and other ingredients in dry very stable forms that certainly last longer than food products... therefore removing the need for preservatives.

We’ll discuss this in more detail later in the article.

The AHPA (American Herbal Products Association) has a 36-page document that explains a list of GMP (Good Manufacturing Processes) guidelines pertaining to use by dates relevant to dietary supplement manufacturers.

A Closer Look At The Relationship Between Dietary Supplements And Their Use By Date

Quality dietary supplements should at all times be manufactured under stringent guidelines. They fall in a category that lies in between the food and pharmaceutical industries.

Quality control organizations do suggest that all supplements should clearly specify a use by date on their product label. The manufacturer should be able to assure consumers that the product will retain the quality as well as efficacy of the ingredients stated on the label until the use by date is reached.

The most prominent product characteristics that affect the use by date of an edible product (including dietary supplements) are color, taste, texture and odor. For example, let’s take Xtend-Life’s Green Lipped Mussel Powder.

Green Lipped Mussel has been shown to help support the body’s natural ability to address inflammation. The supplement contains 100% natural ingredients with no fillers or chemical additives. The unique processing  preserves the natural goodness of mussel powder so that your body is able to assimilate the supplement at the cellular level. 

Since the product is in the form of a dry powder, and the mussels are fully processed from live, to dry powder within an hour,  We are able to be very confident that this product will remain stable and highly effective for well over 2 years.

Dietary supplements contain what are referred to as ‘active ingredients’. Active ingredients are those components of a supplement that provide actual, real-time value to your body. In contrast, inactive ingredients are ‘carriers’ or ‘fillers’ that add to the cost and bulk of the product but are not with associated with any physical benefit.

Vitamins and minerals come under the category of active ingredients and they lose their potency over an extended period of time.

Dietary supplements may also lose nutritional value due to enzymatic or oxidation reactions between the ingredients.

At Xtend-Life, we pay special attention to the potency of the active ingredients during formulation. We study the potency levels of the ingredients used in our formulations.

Oxidation is another very significant factor that plays an important role in determining use by dates on dietary supplements. In addition, some vitamins have a faster deterioration rate compared to others. For example, vitamin D is known to have a much faster oxidation rate compared to other vitamins. Vitamin C is another example of a volatile vitamin that deteriorates on contact with oxygen. Similarly, some standard supplements containing fish oil can turn rancid over time and might start to give off a bad odor, especially if they are of poor quality.

Calcium, on the other hand, is quite stable. As a result, dietary supplements containing calcium tend to enjoy a long shelf-life.  

Similarly, enzymes and amino acids also deteriorate with time. Most supplements are available in tablet, liquid, powder or capsule form. Those supplements that are in liquid form tend to have shorter use by periods compared to tablets or capsules.  Liquids tend to undergo sedimentation over time. This means tiny particles begin to settle down and slowly separate from the parent solution.

In order to maximize the effectiveness of your dietary supplement, ensure that you store the product in a cool, dry place away from humidity and heat. Also remember to recap the pack tightly after use to prevent air (oxygen) and moisture from getting into the formulation.

Some dietary supplements may be extra sensitive to light exposure. Taking these simple precautions will help you preserve the potency of the supplement for a longer period of time. For example, the Xtend-Life range of supplements in dry capsule and tablet form, are normally perfectly fine well beyond the use by date, however the efficacy will be reduced.  However, products should be used within the stated shelf-life.

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