Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Understanding Supplement Brand and Ingredient List

Even though the FDA can’t require manufacturers to submit safety and effectiveness data, a respected name on the label offers some assurance of a quality product. It also promises a fresh product; well-known brands generally sell out more quickly. The initials USP (U.S. Pharmacopoeia, a reputable testing organization) are another quality statement, and so are the words “release assured” or “proven release,” which mean the supplement is easily absorbed by your body. Check the supplement label.

In the early 1990s, the FDA introduced the consumer-friendly nutrition food label with its mini-nutrition guide to nutrient content, complete ingredient listings, and dependable information about how eating certain foods may affect your risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer. The FDA’s new supplement labels must list all ingredients. The label for vitamin and mineral products must give you the quantity per nutrient per serving plus the %DV (percentage daily value), the percentage of the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance).

The listings for other dietary supplements, such as botanicals (herbs) and phytochemicals, must show the quantity per serving plus the part of the plant from which the ingredient is drawn (root, leaves, and so on). A manufacturer’s own proprietary blend of two or more botanicals must list the weight of the total blend.

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