This is part 2 of a 3 part post about how to interpret the “Supplement Facts” panel on vitamin and supplement labels. We didn’t want to overwhelm you with 1,000s of words and details all in one post. So, we broke it up into 3 easy to digest (pun intended) posts.
- Part 1 – Serving size and why that matters.
- Part 2 – The order of things and other ingredients.
- Part 3 – Is it proprietary or possibly misleading?
It’s All In The Order Of Things
After learning about the importance of serving size in part 1 in this 3 part series, the next thing to consider is what you’re actually getting in the product you’re buying. How do you tell? Well, here’s a helpful hint about how to figure it out.
Almost everything you need to know is on the Supplement Facts Panel. The trick is interpreting the information.
Product ingredients should be listed from top to bottom in the order of ingredient quantity. In other words, the ingredient that composes most of the product should be listed first, all the way down to the ingredient that is just barely there. If you see turmeric root powder as the first ingredient and 95% standardized curcumin as the last ingredient, then it stands to reason that the product is mostly comprised of turmeric root powder and not much curcumin.
How do you know what’s in the product when a manufacturer lists “Proprietary Blend” as an ingredient? You don’t! At least not by using the Supplement Facts Panel as a guide.
Unfortunately, some manufacturers use “proprietary blend” as a way to avoid listing the exact amounts of ingredients in their product. Unless a manufacturer lists how many milligrams of each ingredient is in their “proprietary blend”, you have no way of knowing what you’re getting. In part 3, we dive a bit deeper as to why some manufacturers may do this, and why you may want to pass on their products and that style of listing ingredients.
If you’re looking for a product that has a large amount of curcumin (see our post on the 11-benefits of turmeric and curcumin as to why) you may want to look for a product with curcumin as the first ingredient on the supplement facts panel. However, if the label starts off with 3-4 variations of turmeric root or turmeric root powder before you see curcumin listed, no matter what other marketing hype is on the box, you’re not likely getting a product with much curcumin.
In my opinion, it’s better to keep looking and continue to take notice of how ingredients are listed on the supplement panel than it is to purchase something you’re not quite sure about. Some manufacturers (image to the left) go so far as to list the actual amount, in milligrams, of turmeric and curcumin in the product. Personally, this type of transparency makes me feel more comfortable.
Often when you look at the “Other Ingredients” you will notice things like vegetable cellulose, rice flour, silicon dioxide, silica, and magnesium stearate. And that’s just what is in the turmeric products I researched.
Of course, vegetable cellulose describes the capsule encasing the ingredients. If you’re a vegan or have other allergies look for the word, “gelatin”. Gelatin is an animal-based product. Typically made from knees, joints, and other clear-ish components of the animal. Gelatin has triggered allergies in some people and others just simply don’t want to eat it.
Last on my list of “Other Ingredients” is excipients. Excipients are fillers, flow agents, and other products added to the ingredient list to help the primary ingredients flow into the capsule during manufacturing. Think about trying to get ketchup out of the bottle when it’s turned upside down and stuck. Products can be made without excipients, but are often more expensive than their excipient cousins.
Reading the label can be tricky. Knowing what to look for and what other ingredients you are OK with or not OK with is important. Hopefully, you found this information useful. I will conclude this 3 part series with the next post, part 3.
What Supplements Are You Taking?
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