How to Read Supplement Labels: 3 Important Details
As we are becoming a society that is invested in living a healthy, active lifestyle, we are continuously seeking more information about what we are putting into our bodies. The availability of vitamins and supplements at health food stores is greatly increasing. However, the information on what these supplements are and why they are beneficial, is decreasing.
It is important for you to read and understand what you are putting into your body before buying. Understanding what these supplements are made of will allow you to determine if they will be beneficial for you.
Below are three key points you should look for on any vitamin and supplement label before making your purchase.
1. How many milligrams of vitamins are in a serving
Many supplement products increase cost by adding more ingredients, especially vitamins, than required. Though the amount of vitamins required is different for each individual, there is a general rule of thumb that should be followed. For example, the recommended dosage of Vitamin C for an adult is 65 – 90 milligrams (mgs) per day. Supplements that contain more than this recommended dose per serving, is potentially a wasted additive.
Prior to purchasing any vitamins and supplements, do some basic research about how many vitamins you should be receiving daily, what foods you are receiving vitamins from, and where you are lacking. This will help you determine what supplement is best for you and what vitamin additives are unnecessary for your body.
2. Approval stamps
In North America, vitamin supplements do not need U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, however there are clues on the label that ensure the safety and validity of the product. The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, an independent group, ensures that the product delivers what is promised on the label. After testing and approving the product, they place a “USP verified” label on the product. This is one measure to ensure that the product contains everything that it has disclosed and that there are real benefits associated with the supplement.
Another stamp of approval that you should watch out for is “CGMP Inspected Facility.” This credential states that production meets the requirements of the FDA and, if inspected, would pass FDA standards. This credential is the closest a product will get to receiving an “FDA approval.”
3. What are the claimed benefits?
Before purchasing a supplement, you need to determine either what benefit you are trying to achieve by taking a supplement or what are you currently lacking in your diet. This will allow you to narrow down your search and find a product that has the right balance of vitamins.
For example, many men and women search for a supplement that will increase hair growth. The main vitamin for this goal is Biotin. However, many products contain either too much or too little Biotin and claim hair growth as a benefit. Knowing what you are lacking or taking too much of will give you the information required to make an educated decision on if that product is right for you. Having this knowledge is also beneficial from a financial standpoint, as, in many cases, an inexpensive multivitamin will contain all required supplementary vitamins.
It is very important to do your own research before purchasing any supplement to ensure you are aware of what you are putting into your body and what are the effects. Additionally, always speak with your health food store representative. They are trained and well versed on the benefits of all their products and can help determine which supplement is the right choice for you.