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The A-Z List About Supplements

Consuming a balanced, varied, and nutritious diet is the best way to meet our daily nutrient needs. Yet, some people struggle to eat healthy due to stress and a busy lifestyle. And this is where dietary supplements come in to help! Looking for the right supplements can be challenging and reading their supplement labels can be overwhelming. Read on to find out how you can make healthier and more informed choices.

#1 What Are Dietary Supplements?

Dietary supplements are products that supplement our diet to support good health. They encompass vitamins, minerals, herbs or botanicals, enzymes, probiotics, and amino acids. They can also be metabolites, extracts, or concentrates. You can find them in the form of a soft gel, capsule, tablet, liquid, powder, energy bar, and gummy. 

Dietary supplements can make claims to confer some health benefits. However, always keep in mind that dietary supplements are unlike drugs, they are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any diseases. 

#2 Who Needs Them?

You are always encouraged to eat a nutritious variety of foods to meet the nutrient needs of your body to function optimally. However, under some conditions, taking dietary supplements may be necessary because our nutritional needs change as we go through different stages of life. For instance, there is an increased nutrient requirement during pregnancy and lactation, and dietary supplements can help to fill the gap in supporting the body’s needs and reducing the risk of certain health conditions. It is important to know that dietary supplements should not substitute a complete meal crucial to a healthy diet.

#3 Food Vs Dietary Supplement Label

RDIs: Reference Daily Intakes;
DRVs: Daily Reference Values.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements as foods instead of drugs. However, foods and dietary supplements have different labels. The label for dietary supplements is known as “Supplement Facts,” and the label for foods is known as “Nutrition Facts.”

Did you know that the FDA is not authorized to review or approve the safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements before being marketed? Manufacturers and distributors are the parties responsible for ensuring their products meet the specified quality standards in manufacturing, packaging, storage, and labeling (Current Good Manufacturing Practices or cGMPs) and safe from contaminants and impurities. The FDA will take action against hazardous products and ban those products from the market if they are found to be unsafe or if the claims on the products are false and misleading. 

#4 How To Read The Dietary Supplement Label?

Products marketed as dietary supplements must have a “Supplement Facts” label with some information specified by the FDA regulations. This information includes:

  • Serving Size
  • Servings per container
  • Amount per serving
  • All ingredients
  • Source of ingredients
  • Percent daily value
  • Other ingredients like fillers, stabilizers, binders, and flavorings

The following explanation will use ELDERBERRY BOOSTER as a reference. 


Serving Size And Servings Per Container 

Let’s begin with the serving size. It provides you information on the amount you should consume as recommended by the manufacturer. For example, the serving size of ELDERBERRY BOOSTER is two capsules a day, and that means you are suggested to ingest two capsules based on recommendation. The serving per container tells you the number of servings it contains for one unit of product. As for ELDERBERRY BOOSTER, it contains 60 capsules in a box, there are 30 servings per container. 


Ingredients And Their Sources

Next, you can check on the ingredient list, where it will state the name and source of each ingredient used. It’s always good to check the ingredients carefully to prevent food allergy and food intolerance (such as dairy, soy, wheat, or gluten).  

The ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. All nutrients are required to declare if present in a measurable amount, especially the 14 mandatory dietary components. These nutrients include total calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, sugar, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. 


Amount Per Serving And% Daily Value

The amount per serving gives you an idea of the level of nutrients in one serving of the supplement. For water-soluble vitamins like vitamin B & C, the units of measurement are in milligram (mg) and micrograms (mcg) while International Units (IU) is the standard unit of measure for fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D, & E.

The Percent Daily Value (% DV) reflects the percentage of each ingredient that contributes to the daily recommended intake (based on a 2000 calorie diet). For instance, if a supplement contains 50% DV for calcium, it means one serving of the supplement provides you 50% of the daily recommended calcium intake as established by the FDA.

As a simple guide, nutrients at 5% DV or less are deemed as low, whereas 20% DV or more are considered high. In some supplements, they may have over 100% DV for specific nutrients. Nonetheless, it is crucial not to consume supplements exceeding the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) to prevent unfavorable symptoms or side effects. 

Some dietary ingredients that are not vitamins and minerals, do not have % DV, but this does not mean they are substandard, it means that the FDA has not established a valid recommendation for the particular nutrients in the diet. In this case, it will be indicated with a symbol in the % DV column to refer to the footnote “Daily value not established”. 


Other Ingredients

Following the list of ingredients, there may be other inactive components or additives added for manufacturing and stabilization processes which include fillers, binders, flow agents, preservatives, and other compounds. Some additives may pose health risks if consumed regularly and you can watch out for ingredients like titanium dioxide, BHT, sodium benzoate, magnesium silicate, talc, and hydrogenated oil. Nevertheless, it is crucial to understand that not all additives are harmful, additives that are derived from natural sources are safe. Here are some necessary components in a dietary supplement.

Filler:Used to bulk up a supplement, make small active ingredients measurable during the manufacture. Common fillers include cellulose, magnesium stearate, maltodextrin, and rice flour. 

Binder: Used to hold ingredients in a tablet or capsule together, to prevent them from breaking apart. Common binders include lactose, sucrose, cellulose, and maltitol.

Flow agent: Used to make the manufacturing process more efficient, prevent ingredients from sticking to the equipment, and make ingredients stick together to fit into small capsules. Common flow agents include magnesium stearate and silica.

Here is the example of Nutrition Facts of AMAZONIAN ELEMENTS 

Your personalized Supplements Made Easy

After reading through this article, we believe you are PRO in reading Supplement Facts by now (we hope). Since the FDA does not control the safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements as stringent as drugs, it is important to read and understand the nutritional label to find the right supplements. 

All dietary supplements in Onecare Wellness are formulated with only premium and exclusive ingredients that are backed by years of scientific studies. Our products are purified and tested consistently, following the CGMP standard for health and safety purposes, to ensure our customers can indulge worry-free. 

Not sure what to get for your skin or body needs? Read more here.


Source:

  1. Dietary Supplement Labeling Guide: Chapter IV Nutrition Labelling [Internet]. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2018 [cited 31 August 2020]. Available from: https://www.fda.gov/food/dietary-supplements-guidance-documents-regulatory-information/dietary-supplement-labeling-guide-chapter-iv-nutrition-labeling#4-2

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