How to read supplement labels like a pro
Supplements have become increasingly popular in recent years, with more and more people looking to enhance their health and well-being through the use of supplements. However, with so many different supplements on the market, it can be difficult to know which ones to choose and how to properly read the labels to ensure you're getting what you need.
Let’s take a closer look at how to read supplement labels so that you can make informed decisions about your health and wellness.
1. Check the suggested serving size
The first thing to look for on a supplement label is the serving size. This will tell you how much of the supplement you should take at one time. The serving size is typically located at the top of the supplement label.
It's important to pay attention to this, as taking too much or too little of a supplement can have negative consequences. For example, taking too much of a vitamin or mineral can lead to toxicity, while taking too little may not provide any benefit at all.
2. Check the % daily value
Next, look at the % Daily Value (DV) for each nutrient listed on the label. This will tell you how much of each nutrient is in one serving of the supplement relative to the recommended daily intake. For example, if a supplement provides 50% of the DV for vitamin C, this means that one serving contains half of the recommended daily intake for this nutrient. It's important to note that the DV is based on a 2,000-calorie diet, so if you consume more or less than this amount of calories per day, you may have to adjust your intake accordingly.
3. Supplement facts panel
The supplement facts panel is usually located immediately below the serving size.
It is very similar to the Nutrition Facts label you’ll find on food items. This is where you'll find a breakdown of important details like the number of calories and macro and micronutrients (when applicable) per serving, like fat (including types of fat), protein, carbohydrates, cholesterol, and vitamins.
A glance at the supplement facts panel shows you exactly what vitamins and nutrients make up a particular supplement and how much it contains. For example, if your physician has recommended a multivitamin containing potassium, you'll quickly see this particular vitamin does not contain potassium and may not be the right choice for you.
4. Look for active ingredients
Another important factor to consider when reading supplement labels is the active ingredients. These are the compounds that are responsible for providing the supplement's intended benefits. For example, if you're looking for a supplement to get rid of your hair fall, you should look for supplements that contain Zinc, Selenium, Iron, and essential vitamins.
5. Check for additives and allergens
If you’re suffering from any food allergies, it becomes particularly important to check your supplement label carefully. Supplements may also contain additives and allergens that you should be aware of. Additives are often included to improve the taste, texture, or appearance of the supplement, but they can also have some negative effects on your health. Common additives include artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors, as well as preservatives. Allergens, such as soy, wheat, or dairy, may also be present in some supplements, so it's important to check the label if you have any food allergies.
6. Look for quality indicators
Finally, it's essential to look for quality indicators when choosing a supplement. This can include certifications from third-party organizations, such as NSF International or the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), which ensure that the supplement meets certain quality and purity standards. You may also want to look for supplements that use high-quality ingredients, such as those that are organic or non-GMO.
Reading supplement labels can be a bit overwhelming, but it's an important step in ensuring that you're getting the right nutrients in the right amounts. By following these steps and taking the time to research different supplements, you can make the right decisions about your health.