Dietary supplements are a great way to boost health and eliminate nutritional deficiencies. But nowadays, there are so many supplement products crowding the market shelves that choosing the one that best serves your needs can be tricky. One way to identify the most appropriate supplement for your needs is by going through the supplement labels.
Here, we will talk about some simple yet effective ways to help you learn how to read supplement labels. We will also understand how to identify the quality and daily value of every supplement. This piece of information will go a long way in helping you select the right product.
The Supplement Facts Section
Supplement Facts is the name of the section that lists the nutrition information of the product. Some key aspects of this section are as follows:
The section begins with stating the serving size. This will provide you an idea of how much product you should take every day. Remember serving size is serving suggested by the manufacturer of the supplement. It is often expressed in units like a tablet, capsule, softgel, teaspoonful, etc. Ensure that you double-check this part on the supplement label for best results.
Amount Per Serving
Almost all supplement labels include this part that mentions the actual nutrient levels a particular product contains. This makes it easy to choose the best supplement as you can compare the nutrient levels offered by various brands.
Typically, the nutrient levels are measured in units like grams (g), micrograms (mcg), and milligrams (mg). Also, different vitamins are measured in international units (IU).
% Daily Value
The Percent Daily Value refers to the estimated nutritional requirements of an individual who is on a 2,000-calorie diet. For instance, if a supplement label shows 20% of the DV for a particular nutrient, it implies that the product contains 20% of the amount that most people need for one full day.
In certain cases, the supplement labels of some products real 100% of the DV for a specific nutrient.
It must be noted that the %DV should not exceed the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for any nutrient. In case it exceeds the maximum daily intake, it may cause undesirable side effects in individuals. So, make sure to always check the UL before investing in any new supplement.
It is advisable to consult a good healthcare practitioner who can help you determine the best supplement for your needs. He will also determine the Daily Value of every nutrient that is right for your specific condition.
Ingredients that do not directly contribute to the supplement’s nutritional profile are listed at the bottom of the section. Checking this section on the supplement labels is very important, especially for those who suffer from allergies or food intolerance.
Expiration Date & Lot Number
All supplement labels carry the expiration date along with the specific manufacturing lot number. You can check this date to ensure the quality and freshness of the ingredients that are used in the product.
Understanding Quality Considerations
All supplements that are sold in the United States are mandated to follow the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). These GMP guidelines ensure that all dietary supplements are made using approved processes for manufacturing, labeling, and packaging. This makes sure that the product meets both safety and quality benchmarks.
The GMP guidelines also include strict standards for equipment, production control, physical grounds, and personnel.
The FDA monitoring of supplements begins once the product hits the market. If a product is causing harmful side effects in people, the FDA has the authority to remove that supplement from the market.
Certain supplements also provide a Certificate of Analysis. This implies that the supplement has undergone third-party testing to ensure it fulfills the nutritional and dietary requirements. It must be noted that the COA is often mentioned on the supplement labels in the form of a barcode. Alternatively, you can also visit the manufacturer’s website to check this information.
The FDA does not ensure cent percent safety or effectiveness of any supplement product available on the market. And for this reason, it is extremely important to carefully check the supplement labels and understand what the product offers.
It is advisable to avoid products that make baseless health claims or guarantee unrealistic results. Lastly, you must pay proper attention to the quality, dosage, and ingredients mentioned in the supplement labels before picking any product for you.