How to Read a Supplement Label

Understand what the fine print on your supplement label means.

how to read a supplement label

Photo: © Lane Oatey/Blue Jean Images/Corbis

supplement label

Serving size 
Tells you how many capsules/tablets you should take at a time, as suggested by the manufacturer. You might need a different dosage, depending on your health, so check with your doctor before popping any of them.

Amount per serving 
Shows you the quantity of each nutrient in one serving.

Per cent daily value
Shows you the percentage of the recommended daily intake of each nutrient for adults and children aged four years and above. An asterisk under this heading means that the daily value for that nutrient is not established.

Other ingredients
These additional ingredients may include nutrients and other ingredients in your supplement like binders, fillers, and flavourings, listed in descending order according to their weight. The Singapore Health Sciences Authority (HSA) provides a list of ingredients that are restricted in health supplements. Get the guidelines here

Common units of measure: 
Mg and Mcg denote milligram and microgram – units of measurement for water-soluble vitamins (B-complex and C) and minerals (like calcium and magnesium). One milligram equals to 0.001 grams while a microgram equals to 0.001 milligrams.

IU denotes International Unit – a standard unit of measure for fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E. In Singapore, mg and mcg are more commonly used, but you may spot IU on supplements that are manufactured in the US. Unlike mg and mcg, IU measures biological activity rather than quantity. Take note that conversion factors differ for vitamins A, D and E. For more information, visit US National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements

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