This article has been researched and written by Arelang Naturals® in-house writers.
How to Read Supplement Labels
When it comes to maintaining our health and wellness, many of us turn to dietary supplements to fill in nutritional gaps or support specific health goals. But navigating the world of supplements can be overwhelming, with a multitude of products claiming various benefits. To make informed choices, it's essential to learn how to read supplement labels and understand what hidden chemicals, sugars and preservatives may lurk within. On the flip side of the same coin, manufacturers have the daunting task of squeezing a lot of information about a complex product into a tiny space, resorting to abbreviations and verbal shorthand to communicate, making it even more confusing for consumers to comprehend.
In this special guide, we'll break down the art of decoding supplement labels, helping you make healthier choices.
Do Supplement Labels Matter?
Before diving into the nitty-gritty of supplement labels, you might wonder why they even matter. After all, if a product is on the market, it must be safe and effective, right? Well, not necessarily.
Supplement labels are not just fancy packaging; they are regulated by government agencies to ensure transparency and safety. The term "supplement" means that these products are designed to complement your diet, not replace it. Understanding supplement labels can help you determine whether a product is worth your investment and if it aligns with your health goals. It is also important to note that food today doesn't give you the same quantity and quality of nutrients it once did. This is thanks to soil depletion, farming practices, environmental deterioration, and cooking and reheating techniques. This means, most of us have to supplement the lack of nutrients and micronutrients in our diet. But it is essential to gauge how much of it your body needs.
Regulations on Supplements
The regulation of supplements varies from country to country. These regulations ensure that supplements are safe and accurately labelled, but they don't guarantee it’s effectiveness. In India, overseeing the integrity of supplement labels and upholding their safety and adherence to regulations falls under the jurisdiction of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). Established as a statutory body following the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006, FSSAI operates under the purview of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The FSSAI plays a pivotal role in shaping the standards for both food and dietary supplements, overseeing their production, distribution, import, and sale, and keeping these standards in sync with the ever-evolving health and safety landscape. Through its meticulous set of guidelines and rigorous inspection procedures, FSSAI is committed to safeguarding the well-being of Indian consumers, ensuring that supplement labels faithfully represent product contents, nutritional information, and safety precautions. This dedication serves to foster transparency and build trust within the burgeoning supplement industry in India.
While the FSSAI monitors supplement labels and manufacturing practices, it's crucial to recognize that supplements are not held to the same rigorous standards as pharmaceutical drugs. Therefore, understanding the information on supplement labels becomes even more critical.
The centrepiece of a supplement label is the "Supplement Facts" panel, which provides vital information about the product's ingredients and nutrient content. Let's take a closer look at what you'll find in this section:
1. Serving Size: This indicates the recommended serving size, which helps you determine how many servings are in one container.
2. Amount per Serving: This section lists the quantity of each nutrient or ingredient in one serving, often presented in both grams and a percentage of the Daily Value (DV).
3. % Daily Value (%DV): The %DV indicates how much of a specific nutrient one serving provides based on a daily intake of 2,000 calories. It can help you gauge if a supplement provides a significant amount of a particular nutrient. You must check labels to see if a supplement is giving you more than the stipulated daily value. This can lead to vitaminosis or excess vitamins in the body and put stress on your liver.
The ingredients list highlights all components of the supplement, starting with the most abundant ingredient in the product formula. Be on the lookout for hidden sugars and preservatives in this section. Hidden sugars in supplements can be disguised under various names. Here is a list of some common terms used for hidden sugars that you might encounter in supplement ingredients:
1. Sucrose: This is plain table sugar.
2. High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): A common sweetener derived from corn, extremely addictive in nature - to be avoided at all costs!
3. Fructose: A natural sugar found in fruits, but when added as a sweetener, it can be a hidden sugar source.
4. Dextrose: Another name for glucose, a simple sugar.
5. Maltose: A sugar found in malted foods and drinks.
6. Lactose: The sugar present in milk and dairy products.
7. Glucose Syrup: A syrup made from the hydrolysis of starch, often used as a sweetener.
8. Honey: While natural, it's still a form of sugar often added for sweetness.
9. Agave Nectar: A sweet syrup derived from the agave plant.
10. Maple Syrup: Extracted from maple trees, it's a natural sweetener.
11. Brown Rice Syrup: Made from cooked brown rice, it's used as a sweetener.
12. Barley Malt Extract: A sweet syrup produced from barley grains.
13. Evaporated Cane Juice: A less refined form of sugar.
14. Fruit Juice Concentrate: Fruit juices, when concentrated, can add sugar.
15. Molasses: A byproduct of sugar refining, often used in supplements for flavour.
16. Date Sugar: Made from dried dates, it's used as a sweetener.
17. Corn Sweetener: Another term for sweeteners made from corn, like HFCS.
18. Syrup: Generic term often used for various sweetening agents.
19. Cane Sugar (Raw Organic Cane Sugar): Sugar derived from sugar cane.
20. Coconut Sugar: Made from coconut palm sap, it's considered a natural sweetener.
Always check the ingredients list on supplement labels to identify and be cautious of these hidden sugars, especially if you're monitoring your sugar intake or have dietary restrictions. Supplement Terminology
Understanding supplement terminology is crucial for making informed choices. Here are some terms you might encounter on supplement labels:
The term "natural" suggests that the product is derived from natural sources. However, it's essential to note that the use of the word "natural" is not strictly regulated, and some products labelled as such may still contain synthetic ingredients. Always check the ingredient list to be sure. When we say natural, we mean 100% plant-based, no additives, nothing synthetic. Our Caim by arelang range of candyceuticals are perfect examples of all-natural ingredients.
"Organic" indicates that the product's ingredients were grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Certified organic supplements are held to a higher standard, ensuring a more environmentally friendly and potentially healthier option.
Food-based or Whole Food
Supplements labelled as "food-based" or "whole food" are typically made from concentrated whole foods, which can provide a broader spectrum of nutrients. They may be a better choice for those looking to bridge nutritional gaps naturally.
If a supplement is labelled as "GMO-free," it means it does not contain genetically modified organisms. This can be a critical consideration for individuals who prefer to avoid GMOs for various reasons.
Allergies and Dietary Restrictions
When reading supplement labels, be sure to check for any allergens or ingredients that might not align with your dietary restrictions. Common allergens like soy, wheat, dairy, and nuts are often listed clearly to help consumers with allergies avoid potential issues. In conclusion, knowing how to read supplement labels is an essential skill for anyone seeking to enhance their health through nutritional supplements.
It allows you to make informed choices, avoid hidden sugars and preservatives, and select products that align with your dietary preferences and goals.
Remember that supplements should complement a balanced diet, not replace it, and consulting with a healthcare professional can help you make the best choices for your specific needs. Supplements should give you just enough micronutrients to help kickstart your body's natural systems and processes like the Caim By årelang range of candyceuticals. Ensure you are wise and read all the labels.
By deciphering supplement labels, you take control of your health and well-being, ensuring that the supplements you choose are not only safe but also effective in helping you reach your health and wellness goals. So, the next time you pick up a supplement bottle, don't forget to read the label – it holds the key to a healthier you.