Checking the labels on your stash of vitamins

Published: August 17, 2016 5:07 PM EDT
Updated: August 17, 2016 5:11 PM EDT

(SWEEPS FEED) Do you have a stash of vitamins and supplements with labels you are unsure about? Then you’re a lot like Lynn Crisci.

“I don’t really know what any of the terms on the bottles of the vitamins mean,” she said.

So what do label terms like “organic,” “natural” and other claims mean? Experts say labels can be puzzling — so puzzling that they make it hard for consumers.

“It makes it difficult for them to determine what they need to take or what product they should purchase because they really don’t know what those terms mean,” said Sonya Angelone of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The word “organic” on a label is a certification that means a product meets tough federal requirements. Angelone explains the several requirements a product must meet for that certification.

“Organic means that a product is made without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides that it doesn’t have ionic radiation as part of the process and basically that it doesn’t have any genetically modified organisms,” she said.

But what about “natural” vitamins? A Gallop poll shows half of Americans regularly take vitamins. But surveys show consumers are confused between the terms “organic” and “natural.” The term “natural” is considered to mean a product is free of artificial or synthetic ingredients, but the Food and Drug Administration has not created an official definition for the term.

Even without an official definition, the FDA said it still has rules. Supplemental labels are not regulated by the FDA but are still required to be truthful and not misleading.

So how do you know if you are getting what’s best for you? Agelone said the first step is working with a professional.

“It’s first really important to know what you need. The best way to determine that is to work with a registered dietitian or your own personal physician so you know what you need,” she said.

Crisci admits that she finds label claims a little tricky.

“I like to think I’m an educated consumer and so I assume that everybody is in the same boat as me and they don’t understand the labels as well as they want to on supplements,” she said.

For more on label terms and claims visit:

Links:
USDA:
https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/Organic%20Production-Handling%20Standards.pdf
What does “NON GMO” mean?
http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm059098.htm
Natural:
http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm456090.htm