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How to Read a Vitamin Label
Dietitian Offers 10 Easy Tips on How to Read a Vitamin Label
NEW RDA GUIDELINES INCREASE NEED FOR CONSUMER EDUCATION
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – Pharmavite Corp., makers of Nature Made® vitamins, minerals and other supplements and Nature’s Resource® premium herbs, operates a toll-free hotline to answer consumer questions on dietary supplements. Recently, the company has experienced a growing number of inquiries related to new Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) guidelines for vitamins and minerals that The Institute of Medicine, a private, Washington, D.C.-based science organization that sets the nation's RDA guidelines for many vitamins and minerals, updated for the first time since 1989.
“Few people know how much of a vitamin or mineral they should be taking daily, and the recently updated RDA standards can compound the confusion,” said Lynn Moss M.S, R.D., a continuing education specialist at Pharmavite. “As our consumer affairs staff handles more than 400 calls a day, we thought it was relevant to give information on how to read a vitamin label so that people can make informed decisions at the vitamin counter.”
Moss recommends consumers be knowledgeable about the following 10 tips when purchasing vitamins, minerals or other dietary supplements (please refer to the attached sample label):
- “% Daily Value” or “% DV” on the label is the percentage of the Daily Value, a value created by the FDA for food and supplement labeling. It's based on and is a simplification of the RDA, but doesn't take into account age or gender as the RDAs do. If the “% Daily Value” noted is 50%, then you will receive half of the FDA recommended daily dosage of that supplement contained in one serving.
- Serving Size -This shows the consumer how many tablets they need to take to reach the recommended percent Daily Value or the amounts represented on the label. People often assume that by taking one supplement a day, they are satisfying the recommended Daily Value. This is not always the case; consumers should read their labels carefully for the percentage of the Daily Value they are getting from one serving.
- Scientific units such as “I.U.”, “mg” and “mcg” are different ways of measuring the amounts of vitamins and minerals in each tablet or soft gel. “I.U.,” or “International Unit,” is the global standard for measuring fat-soluble vitamins (e.g. vitamins A, D and E). Both water-soluble vitamins, such as B vitamins and vitamin C, and minerals, are measured in milligrams (mg) and micrograms (mcg); one milligram (1/1000 of a gram) is equal to 1000 micrograms.
- Necessary nutrients without Daily Values, such as Boron and Nickel, are contained in supplements to help consumers gain health benefits from substances for which the Institute of Medicine has not yet established guidelines. Nature Made products with these nutrients contain small, safe units established by researchers that may deliver substantial additional health benefits.
- Hotline and Web site for help. Dietary supplements that promote a toll-free number and Web site are indicators that a manufacturer is interested in sharing information with the public and is available to answer consumer questions. Nature Made’s consumer affairs department can be reached by calling 1-800-276-2878 between the hours of 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. PST. Consumers can also visit www.naturemade.com to locate answers to many questions about vitamins and minerals or ask a specific question to the nutritionists via e-mail.
- Expiration dates are put on vitamin bottles to let consumers know how long the contents will be effective. After the expiration date, the vitamins will have aged to a point that they no longer contain the “% Daily Value” indicated on the bottle.
- Lot Number is a series of letters and numbers important for tracking the supplement’s history in case there are any specific questions concerning the product purchased.
- Suggested Use information helps consumers safely and accurately obtain the “% Daily Value” annotated on the bottle along with other useful instructions, such as when the supplement should be taken and the best place it should be stored.
- Warnings help to alert consumers about protective safety seals on the product (which should remain intact at time of purchase) and help caution them of the potential adverse effects of taking a supplement. People on prescription medication, pregnant or lactating mothers, or people with allergies should look for warnings on package labels. Quality manufacturers will alert consumers about taking a supplement under such conditions and suggest they contact a health care provider before taking a the product.
- Quality statements represent a manufacturer’s promise to offer high-quality, standardized products, and can come in the form of quality statements on the bottle or quality seals. Consumers should look for a name they recognize on these emblems or a seal from a health group that endorses the brand. Nature Made, for example, carries a company-wide guarantee for purity and potency standards on all of its products and an additional United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) statement on certain products, indicating that Nature Made manufactures to USP standards, where established guidelines exist. They are also the first and only supplement brand to carry a medical Seal of Acceptance from the American Medical Women’s Association, the largest medical organization of woman physicians, on selected products.
For more information, please call the Nature Made Healthline at 1-800-276-2878 or visit the Nature Made Web site at www.naturemade.com.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat cure or prevent any disease.
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