How To Read, Understand & Research Supplement Fact Ingredient Listings


The world of medicine has definitely evolved from the early days of having to go to the doctor for every little affliction. Nowadays, we have tons of websites that help you self-diagnose and self-treat various minor health conditions. With this evolution came the rise of health supplements. These are products that are packed with various vitamins, minerals, and other substances that are supposed to provide various health benefits and treat various health problems.

The problem with supplements is that many people are ignorant about them. They know that supplements exist and want to try them out. The issue is that a lot of people are gullible. They will believe every claim that a maker says about their product and are too lazy to any of their own research into the product and its ingredients. This and a lack of FDA regulation allows many supplement makers to release ineffective and dangerous products into the market.

And as you can probably guess, many people end up buying these fraudulent supplements. The FDA can only get involved once complaints have been reported, which is way too late. This is why I want to raise awareness of supplements so that people can do their own research and not be swindled by con artists and their fraudulent products.

An important part of this is learning how to read and comprehend the health label on supplements. This will help you understand what ingredients are in a supplement and how much of each ingredient is in the supplement.

The label also informs you about how to properly use the supplement and lists the key benefits that the manufacturer claims the product can provide. With this information, you can then analyze the ingredients and see if they actually do provide those benefits. That is precisely what I do when I review supplements. Let’s take a closer look at supplement labels so you can better understand the information printed on them.

What Information Appears On A Supplement Label?

Before going into the information that is presented on supplement labels, I would like to point out something. As you all probably know, most supplement labels are different and present information about their supplement in different ways and areas. Some of the information may be harder to find and be in smaller text than other information. Make sure to examine the label carefully so that you do not miss any potentially important information.

The Name Of The Supplement (And The Brand That Made It)

This is probably the most insignificant part of a supplement, although it can be important if you are buying a brand name supplement from a third party vendor. If the name and brand look a little off, you may have purchased a knockoff.

Anyways, the name of the supplement and the company that made it are usually presented in the largest text with the most design and pizzazz around it. This is all the manufacturers want you to see basically. Sometimes, the product will have a subtitle under it that contains the supplement or brand’s motto.

The Main Benefits Of Taking The Supplement

This information is also presented in fairly large text and is usually placed near the supplement and brand name. Most supplement makers will not print all of the claimed benefits of their product this way, as there is not a enough room. They will just present the main benefits that were probably the reason for buying the supplement.

Take a weight loss supplement for instance. You can bet your bottom dollar that you will see phrases like “Boosts Metabolism!” and “Helps you burn fat!” because these are the reasons that someone would buy a weight loss supplement.

How To Use The Supplement

Usually appearing on the side or back of the supplement label, this is one of the more important things you should read off the label.

This area contains information about what the proper dose is to take of the supplement. This is how you can deduce how many tablets you should take at one time and how many should be taken every day. This is so that you do not take too much and get sick or take too little and not experience anything.

If a supplement does not contain this information at all on its label, it should set off major red flags in your mind and make you opt for a different product.

Information About the Supplement And Its Benefits

Somewhere near the dosage information, you should find a general explanation of the supplement and how it benefits your bodies. This explanation will be more articulate and explain much more of the benefits beyond the boasts made on the front of the label by the name and brand.

It is much better to figure out what a supplement does by reading this section as opposed to buying based off the fancy texted claims on the front of the supplement label.

FDA Disclaimer

As I stated earlier, the FDA does not have much oversight over the health supplement market. However, one requirement that all supplement makers must follow is including a disclaimer that states the FDA has not tested and approved their product. Most people ignore this disclaimer because they assume that the FDA does safety test all supplements before allowing them to be released – which they do not.

Health Warnings

This is the part of the label where you will find information about any adverse effects from taking the supplement. You will also find information about whether or not people with certain conditions (such as pregnant women or people taking certain medications) can safely take the supplement.

You will also be warned if any of the supplement’s ingredients can cause allergy flare-ups.

Supplement Facts

This is the equivalent to the “Nutrition Facts” area that most food and beverage labels have. This is where you will find the most essential information about a supplement. If a supplement does not have this area on its label, it would be in your best interests to not purchase that supplement.

Since this information is so essential, I feel the need to explain each part of the Supplement Facts area individually.

Proper Serving

Anyone who is used to reading food and drink labels know exactly what this means. This part tells you how much is a proper serving size. In the case of health supplements, it is usually how many pills are in a proper dose.

And just like the Nutrition Facts section on food and drink labels, all of the information presented in the Supplement Facts area is based on that serving (ie. how many calories, grams of fat, and vitamin content is in that one serving).

List of Ingredients

Another facet that the Supplement Facts and Nutrition Facts sections share and another vital part of the supplement label. Knowing what ingredients make up a certain supplement is vital to figuring out if the supplement is actually beneficial or if it could be potentially harmful.

Some manufacturers will opt not to list every individual ingredient in their supplement and instead create some name of a “special” blend of ingredients to instead put on the label. Most supplements will provide the names of the ingredients in this blend on their website or in the box that comes with the supplement (if it comes in a box).

Extra Ingredients

The last thing that you have to read on a supplement label is the list of additional ingredients. These are usually lesser known minerals and chemicals that only exist in trace amounts in the supplement and do not offer much benefit. They are usually agents that help produce the supplement’s texture or flavor. However, for safety purposes, it is always important to examine this list to make sure there are not any potentially dangerous ingredients on this list.

Supplement Label Review Summary

Now you know what to look for when browsing for health supplements. It is obviously easier to read a supplement’s label when you are shopping for supplements in a brick and mortar store, however, many online supplement sellers allow you to look at a digital version of a supplement’s label or even just a picture of the label.

Knowing what to look for on a supplement label will put you ahead of the pack when it comes to sniffing out fraudulent products and staying away from them. It will also help you to be able to find the perfect product for your needs.

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Supplement Police
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