Dietary supplements are regulated by the FDA, and all labels need to follow a consistent format to make it easier for consumers to understand supplements. There are some tricks to understanding dietary supplement labels well, so be sure to pay attention to the following points when you’re evaluating your supplements.

The “Supplement Facts” title is an indicator that the product is marketed for sale in the USA and is an FDA standard. The serving size, and sometimes the number of servings per bottle will be included to help you compare more easily between products Make sure the serving sizes match when you’re comparing supplements to get an accurate comparison between the products. Vitamins and minerals will always show the dose in both weight and % daily value to help you understand how you’re hitting your dietary requirements. Many supplements will have doses that exceed the recommended daily amount. Always talk to your health care practitioner to make sure that you’re taking the right dose of supplements. Dietary supplement ingredients that aren’t vitamins or minerals won’t have a % daily value because the values haven’t been established as they are not essential ingredients in the diet.

Herbs will sometimes have additional information listed in the supplement facts panel. You might see ratio numbers (ie. 4:1) that designates how much raw material of the herb (fresh or dried herb) went into making the supplement version of the herb. Herbs might have a standardization amount that corresponds to how much of an active ingredient is present in the herbal supplement. The dose of the active ingredient is often listed, but not all the time. Proprietary blends are common in dietary supplements. The total amount of the proprietary blend in a serving needs to be listed on a supplement, which means that you don’t get all of the information about every ingredient that is in the blend. Ingredients in a proprietary blend are listed in order from most to least. This is similar to how food ingredients are listed on nutrition facts panels that you find on prepared foods. The daily value percent is established against a 2000 calorie diet. While this is the standard calorie amount across most labels, it’s always important to scale your requirements based on the calorie intake that you need to reach your health goals.

 

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How to Read Supplements