Supplements Vitamin Labels

When it comes to choosing between vitamins and supplements, reading various bottle labels can easily bog you down in unnecessary details and unintelligible rhetoric. However, with a few easy tips, you will know where to look and what to look for on a vitamin bottle. This information can help you quickly find the information you need and will help you pick the right multivitamins for you and your family.

Tips for Reading a Vitamin Label

Here is an outline of the most important information you need to check out when reading different vitamin labels and choosing between various daily supplements:

  • Contact info: Any reputable vitamin distributor will provide their Web site, address and possible a hotline number on the label so that clients can reach them. Be weary of any supplement that doesn’t clearly contain contact information on the label.
  • Expiration dates and lot number: Before purchasing any multivitamin or other supplement, make sure that the contents are still potent and safe to ingest. While you can still take vitamins up to a month after their expiration date, keep in mind that the percentage of each vitamin in the pill is likely to have decreased. Similarly, taking note of the lot number, which tells you where and when that particular bottle of vitamins was made, can also help you identify whether or not the vitamins are safe and effective.
  • Other necessary nutrients: Along with including essential vitamins, such as vitamin B and D, quality multivitamins and supplements should include other essential nutrients, such as boron, that help the body absorb the multivitamin.
  • Percent daily value (DV): The percentage of each vitamin and nutrient in the multivitamin is based on the daily percent our bodies need. While some vitamins will have 100 percent of your daily needs of certain vitamins, others will only have a fraction of them. Keep in mind that the percentage of vitamins you need is based on your age, gender and overall health. Your doctor can advise you on the percentages to look for based on your condition.
  • Quality assurance: Scan the label for any awards, accolades or endorsements credible medical experts have made about this product. For example, make sure that the product is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • Suggested use: Take note of the recommended dosage, as well as the suggested storage conditions for the product.
  • Units of measurement:Different countries and vitamin manufacturers measure the amounts of vitamins and supplements in their product according to different units of measurement (i.e. grams, International Units, etc). If you know precisely how much of various vitamins you needs, check out the units of measurement for them. In most cases, however, people can evaluate whether or not the supplement has what they need based on the “percentage daily value,” which is also listed on the bottle.
  • Warnings: Before taking any multivitamin or supplement, check out the warning label on the bottle. Warning labels tell you about any possible side effects. Anyone already taking prescription medication, as well as pregnant women, should take special care to read warning labels on any vitamin and/or supplement bottles.

Recommended Vitamin Intake for Adults

The amounts of vitamins and nutrients that people need depend on an individual’s age, gender and overall health. However, here is an outline of how much of each vitamin and nutrient healthy adults (not including pregnant or breastfeeding women) should look for in their daily supplements. Keep in mind that these amounts take into account the fact that adults will also still be getting some nutrients from their food:

Type of Vitamin Recommended Intake measured in International Units (IU), micrograms (mcg) or milligrams (mg)
Vitamin A 3,000 IU
Vitamin B12 6 mcg
Beta Carotene 15,000 IU
Calcium 300 to 700 mg
Chromium 20 to 35 mcg
Copper 1 to 2 mg
Vitamin C 75 to 90 mg
Vitamin D 200 to 400 IU
Vitamin E 30 IU
Folic Acid 400 mcg
Iron 9 mg
Vitamin K 80 mcg
Magnesium 100 mg
Selenium 55 to 70 mcg
Zinc 8 to 15 mg

Try to find multivitamins and daily supplements that have amounts of the above vitamins within these ranges. Remember, taking excess amounts of vitamins can not only prevent your body from taking in any nutrients, but it may also make you seriously ill, potentially causing severe health problems over time.


Nature Made (n.d.). Ten Easy Tips on How to Read A Vitamin Label. Retrieved October 23, 2007, from the Nature Made Web site:

Nutrition Action Healthletter (January 2003). How to read a vitamin label. Retrieved October 23, 2007, from the Find Articles Web site: