Eating a diet is best thanks to making sure you are meeting your vitamin and mineral needs. Still, under certain circumstances, it might also be necessary to take a supplement.
Buying supplements is often an incredible challenge.
With numerous supplements available and a lot of information packaged on each product’s label. It is often difficult to know where to start.
Fortunately, once you figure out how to read labels, buying supplements becomes a piece of cake.
This article explains how to read supplement labels like a pro using some easy tactics.
Regulations On Supplements
Dietary supplements are products that are meant to taken in addition to your regular diet.
They are available in different forms, such as tablets, capsules, liquids, pills, and powders.
Vitamins, minerals, enzymes, herbs, extracts, probiotics, and amino acids are all examples of supplements.
It is important to note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the safety or efficacy of supplements in a manner equivalent to that it monitors medications.
This means that a supplement’s quality or consistency from batch to batch cannot guaranteed.
As a result, while ordering supplements. It is critical to practice reading labels to verify that you are getting the highest quality product available.
Vitamins, minerals, and plant extracts are examples of supplements. Because the FDA does not monitor supplement safety or effectiveness as thoroughly as it does drugs. It is critical to practice reading labels.
The supplement facts label includes most of the essential information about some supplements, including serving size, number of servings per container, product ingredients, and how much of each nutrient it contains (1 trusted source).
Begin by looking at the serving size. Which will give you an idea of the ratio you’ll need to obtain the desired dose.
It can also help you determine if it should divided into multiple doses throughout the day or if everything often taken directly, which some people may prefer.
You should also check their nutrient content, along with their amounts in each serving.
For vitamins and minerals, it often reported as the percent daily value (% DV), which is based on the estimated nutritional needs of a person on a 2,000 calorie diet.
For example, if a product contains 50% of the DV of a selected nutrient, this suggests that it contains approximately 50% of the amount that most people need throughout the day.
In some cases, supplements may contain more than 100% of the DV nutrients for sure.
However, it is important not to exceed the tolerable upper intake level (UL), which is defined as the maximum daily intake that is unlikely to cause adverse symptoms or side effects (2Reliable source).
Be sure to always check the UL before purchasing a replacement supplement. Also, it’s best to discuss supplement use with your healthcare provider, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions.
Other ingredients listed at the bottom of the supplement’s facts label, including herbs, extracts, additives, and other compounds.
For more information on how to select high-quality vitamins and minerals and determine if you will enjoy taking a supplement, see this text.
The ingredients, serving size, number of servings, and nutritional value of a supplement are all listed on the supplement facts label.
When selecting a supplement, it is vital to read the ingredient label.
Fillers, sweeteners, preservatives, and additives, all of which can be found on the label, should be carefully examined.
Manufacturers often use fillers to help cut costs or add substance to tablets and capsules.
Some additives extend the shelf life of supplements, aid in the binding of chemicals, and improve the feel, color, taste, and consistency of goods.
Although these ingredients may also be necessary in some cases, it is best to go beyond supplements that contain an extended list of additives.
Some of the more common additives found in supplements include:
- Stearic acid
- Soy oil
- Potassium sorbate
- Silicon dioxide
- Citric acid
- Titanium dioxide
- Soy lecithin
- Magnesium stearate
Supplements may also contain artificial colors, sweeteners, or flavorings, all of which may even listed on the label.
Note that the ingredients listed predominantly, with the people being present in the highest amounts first.
Supplements list ingredients on their label as predominance. Go beyond supplements that contain an expanded list of additives, including fillers, binders, sweeteners, or preservatives.
Supplements sold within the US must follow Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP), which ensure companies adhere to approved processes for supplement manufacturing, packaging, labeling, and storage.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is in charge of ensuring that supplement makers follow these criteria, which helps supplements fulfill required strength, identity, purity, and composition specifications.
Some manufacturers may also prefer to undergo third-party testing to obtain certification from organizations such as:
- NSF International
- United States Pharmacopeia (USP)
- Prohibited Substances Control Group (BSCG)
- Subscriber Labs (UL)
- International standards for animal oils (IFOS)
These organizations set strict standards for the purity and potency of supplements, so certifications are often an honest indicator of quality.
Products that have been certified by these organizations often display a verification stamp on the label. Typically, you will also find an inventory of certified products on the third-party organization’s website.
Some supplements may also provide a Certificate of Study (COA), which suggests that they must undergo third-party testing to verify that they meet the required product specifications.
The COA for products is usually available as a QR code on the supplement label or often accessed on the manufacturer’s website.
If a COA is not provided for your supplement, you will also want to consider contacting the manufacturer to see if it is available.
Look for goods that come with a certificate of analysis (COA), have undergone third-party testing, and are certified by organizations like USP or NSF International to verify you’re obtaining a high-quality supplement.
Supplement labels often contain terms such as “all-natural” or “organic,” which can be confusing to consumers.
These are some of the most common terms that you will see on your supplement.
The labels “natural” and “all-natural,” according to the FDA, refer to items that do not contain any artificial components, such as artificial tastes or colors (3 Trusted Source).
However, please note that the use of the term “natural” does not strictly apply within the US.
Therefore, it is still important to look at the ingredient label to identify synthetic sweeteners, flavors, and colors.
Supplements often marketed as organic, as long as they conform to National Organic Program regulations and contain herbs, vitamins, or minerals derived from organic plants or animals (4).
Organic plants are grown without the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or prohibited substances, including synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Meanwhile, organic animals are fed organic feed and given hormones or antibiotics (5).
Certified organic products generally have a green seal with the USDA logo on the packaging.
Food-Based Or Whole Food
“Food-based” or “whole-food” supplements are terms used to describe some supplements.
These supplements are generally made using a concentrated mixture of dehydrated food substances.
While this may seem like a good option for health-conscious consumers, it is important to note that it is often not necessarily an honest indicator of quality.
Synthetic substances, such as additions, fillers, and flavorings, are frequently found in whole or food-based food supplements.
Some supplements advertised as GMO-free or GMO-free, which means they are produced without genetically modified ingredients.
Many people prefer to avoid or limit their consumption of GMO ingredients due to concerns about food allergies, antibiotic resistance, and their potential long-term health effects (6 Trusted source).
Products may also display a seal from The Non-GMO Project, a non-profit organization that verifies that the ingredients are not GMO.
Understanding some common terms used on supplement labels is vital when choosing the right product for you.
Supplements are frequently advertised as quick treatments for common ailments, with some companies even claiming that their medicines can fight cancer, reverse diabetes, or halt the aging process.
These claims are not only unfounded, but they are also illegal within the US.
In fact, under US law, dietary supplements cannot claim to treat or cure disease, and any health claim must supported by strong scientific evidence showing a link between a selected condition and a food substance.
Furthermore, manufacturers can only claim that a selected food substance reduces the danger of a condition, not that it can treat or cure it.
Avoid supplements that make these fraudulent claims or claim that they will treat an extensive list of health problems.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), other phrases that would indicate fraud include (7):
- Exclusive product
- Ancient remedy
- Miraculous results
- Secret ingredient
- Scientific discovery
- Revolutionary technology
You should also be on the lookout for testimonials that promise unrealistic results or products that said to have limited availability and require you to pay in advance.
Even supplements that claim to provide results like prescription drugs or offer “no risk” testing or guarantees should avoided.
It is best to avoid products that make unfounded health claims, promise unrealistic results, or claim they will cure or treat a disease.
Allergies And Dietary Restrictions
If you have any allergies, it is important that you always carefully check the label of your supplement.
The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 requires labels to reveal the presence of major food allergens (8 Trusted Source).
Reportable food allergens include milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, soy, wheat, and peanuts.
Some supplements may state that they do not contain allergens or that they do not contain a selected allergen.
It important to note that these terms are not regulated by the FDA and that companies are not required to test their products for allergenic proteins.
Additionally, although a product does not contain a selected allergen, supplements can also be processed in facilities that also handle common food allergens, which could lead to cross-contamination.
If you have a severe allergy, you’ll want to try doing additional research on a corporation’s manufacturing processes or looking them up to determine if a supplement contains potential allergens.
For those with a gluten disorder or sensitivity, selecting products that are certified gluten-free can also be an honest choice to ensure that a supplement does not contain any trace of gluten.
Animal-based substances such as gelatin, carmine, magnesium stearate, collagen, and lanolin may also be suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
You can also choose products that are certified vegan, ensuring that a product formed without the use of animal products and not tested on animals.
If you have allergies or dietary restrictions, be sure to read the label carefully or contact the company to verify the ingredients.
The Bottom Line
Vitamins, minerals, probiotics, herbal extracts, amino acids, enzymes, and other goods are included in the phrase “supplements.”
The FDA does not regulate the safety or effectiveness of supplements so strictly because it regulates medications, so it is important to read the label carefully when purchasing supplements.
Paying close attention to ingredients, dosage, quality, and health claims is vital in choosing the right product for you.
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