Understanding your Dietary Supplement Labels

Earlier on the blog, we unpacked the different kinds of health claims that appear on supplement labels. Dietary supplement labeling can sometimes be vague or confusing, especially with so many options available, and it goes beyond health claims. To make supplement shopping easier, we’ve compiled a simple list of the main information you should look for on supplement labels.

Servings and Supplement Facts

The Supplement Facts label on a dietary product will give you the main information about what active/nutritional ingredients are used in the formula. Here, you’ll also find guidance on the dosage of the supplement, including whether you should take it all at once or if you’re able to split it up throughout the day.

It’s important to research the Tolerable Upper Intake Level for a given ingredient before you begin taking any new supplement, as many supplements contain over 100% of your daily recommended intake of certain vitamins and minerals, and therefore should not be mixed with additional supplements containing the same ingredients.

Additives and Other Ingredients

Below the Supplement Facts label, other ingredients will be listed. Ingredients of dietary supplements are listed in order of predominance, as they are on other food labels. Here, you should check for added sweeteners, coloring, preservatives, and other additives.

Sometimes additives are necessary to make the formula of a dietary supplement stable, but you should opt for products with the least amount of additives wherever possible.

Supplement Clinical Testing

In general, supplements that have gone through additional clinical testing with consumers tend to be of a higher quality. This is usually signified with a stamp on the product packaging that claims the product has been tested or approved by a given lab or organization.

While not always indicative of quality, these studies tend to be a positive sign because they mean the producer of the supplement has sought out science-backed verification that their product fulfills its marketing claims.

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