How to Read a Supplement Label: The Ultimate Guide

How to Read a Supplement Label: The Ultimate Guide

Did you know that the dietary supplement industry reached a revenue of nearly $37 billion in 2014 alone? Many of these billions are spent on multivitamin and multimineral supplements because people want to achieve their recommended daily allowances for certain vitamins and minerals.

That's all nice and good, but do you know how to read a supplement label properly? Buying any type of supplement on the market is likely not the best idea. Keep reading this article to learn more about a vitamin label and how to know if it's suitable for you.

1. Serving Size

The "serving size" refers to the number of pills or softgels you need to take to reach the number of nutrients listed on the label. For example, some vitamin supplements might have 240 tablets in total and the serving size is 2 per day. This means that you have up to 120 servings to take and your supplement might last for roughly 4 months, if you take 2 tablets daily.

2. Daily Value

You might also find this as the "% of Daily Value". This refers to the number of nutrients you get from your serving every day based on guidelines established by the FDA back in 1994. For example, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin A is about 900 mcg for men and 700 mcg for women. If you take vitamin A in these precise quantities, you will meet your recommended allowance for that day.

3. The Units of Measurement

By looking at a standard supplement label, you'll see that there are many types of measurement units listed there. In the earlier example with vitamin A, we had mcg which stands for micrograms. A microgram is the millionth part of a gram. You might also find ingredients listed in milligrams. A milligram is the thousandth part of a gram.

In some cases, you'll also find something as IU or international units. This is a measurement unit used internationally and it usually applies for soluble vitamins and other nutrients. It is similar to milligrams or micrograms, so you just have to find the RDA for a particular vitamin (let's say 500 IU) and check the label to see if your supplement meets it.

4. The Number of Calories

You will find this information only on certain types of supplements such as those containing fish oil fats. Each gram of fat contains 9 calories and you might find these fats listed as saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, etc. It's important to know these calories, especially if you're on a diet that drastically restricts your calorie intake.

5. Ingredients

This is usually the largest and the longest list on the label of every supplement. It contains the ingredients your supplement has such as vitamins, minerals, other ingredients such as plant extracts, etc. They are usually listed in alphabetical order and each ingredient is assigned a particular daily value recommendation.

For example, if your supplement contains vitamin A and next to it you see "50% of the Daily Value" then this means that each serving is giving you 50% of how much vitamin A you should consume daily. The other 50% to meet your RDA should be taken from your diet. Keep in mind that some supplements might contain plant extracts that don't have an RDA assigned to them. That's usually because the FDA hasn't yet established a recommended daily allowance or the ingredient in question is not harmful to you if consumed in large quantities.

6. Directions

This is the section that usually instructs you on how to take these supplements. For example, some companies recommend taking vitamin pills with food, so that they are better absorbed by your body. In some cases, the "directions" section might tell you when to take your supplements and how (such as with water, etc).

Keep in mind that for some vitamins or other ingredients, it's very important not to exceed the recommended daily allowance. For example, vitamin A can become toxic for your body if you take too much. Such information might be listed under the "directions" section as well.

7. Additional Notes And Information

The manufacturer might decide to print other notes on the label, so that clients get the most out of their products and use it safely. For example, this part of the label might contain information on how to take supplements if you're pregnant or breastfeeding. It might also contain safety precautions such as not taking the supplements if you also take other drugs or medicine.

You might also find information referring to people with allergies or what to do if you accidentally took more than one serving in a day. Lastly, you can also find pieces of advice on how to store your supplements, so they remain effective for longer.

8. Expiration Date

Vitamins or minerals don't really "expire" per se, but they can lose their effectiveness after a certain period of time, even if they are stored in proper conditions. This section of the label might also be entitled "best before" on certain supplements.

The expiration date is usually one or two years after the supplement has been made. You are not in danger if you consume expired supplements, but you're definitely not getting the RDA listed on the label. Ideally, you want to consume these supplements before their expiration date and replace expired ones if necessary.

9. Manufacturer's Information

This section contains details regarding the manufacturing company such as contact details, address information, website URL, phone number, email address, and more. You might need this information if you want to place other orders or report feedback directly to the manufacturing company.

Now You Know How To Read a Supplement Label!

As you can see, a supplement label contains everything you need to know in order to get the most out of your multivitamin or multimineral supplement. Make sure that you follow the instructions listed accordingly and do not exceed the RDA because it can affect your health.

In the meantime, don’t hesitate to stop by our website and check out our impressive collection of supplements for both men and women! Our products are designed to improve your fitness level and strengthen your immune system at the same time.

Feb 16, 2020 Brad Picardat

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