How To Read A Supplement Lable Like A Pro

When most people buy supplements, they’re concerned about the type of supplement they are getting. But the only way to really know what you’re buying is to thoroughly read the supplement facts label.

Here is how to read a supplement facts label like a pro and what to look for when considering any dietary supplement.

Serving Size & Amount per Serving

The “Serving Size” can be listed as the number of capsules, teaspoons, drops, scoops, etc. that equals a single serving and should be the quantity of the supplement that you take at a time unless otherwise recommended by a health professional. “Serving Per Container” is however the number of servings contained in a single container.

Ingredients & Other Ingredients

Examining the ingredients list is key to finding out about a product’s benefits. You can use this list to find out key things about an ingredient, such as its source or how it was processed. Ingredients are often listed in order of weight predominance.

Toward the bottom of the supplement fact label, other ingredients may also be listed, including herbs, extracts, additives, and other compounds. Check carefully for ingredients like fillers, sweeteners, preservatives, food coloring, and additives.
Fillers are often used by manufacturers to help cut costs or add substance to tablets and capsules. “Other ingredients” are also listed in descending order by weight.

% Nutrient Reference Value (%NRV) or % Daily Value (%DV)

NRV stands for Nutrient Reference Value – that is the intake level of a nutrient that is considered adequate to meet the nutritional requirements of an average healthy adult to prevent deficiency. NRVs are set for vitamins and minerals for the purpose of food labeling based on European legislation, while the US has its own version of the NRVs called the Daily Value (DV).
And because different criteria were used to define NRVs and DVs, you will see a difference between the NRVs and US DVs of a given nutrient. For example, the NRV for vitamin D is 5mcg, whereas in the US the DV is 20mcg.

%NRV and %DV on the label both show the percentage of the nutritional requirements that are provided by the supplement.
For example, if a product contains 50% of the DV for a specific nutrient, this means that it contains approximately 50% of the amount that most people need for the entire day.
Some supplements do contain more than the NRV, but there are good health reasons for this. It’s also not a problem as long as you abide by Safe Upper Limits (SUL) – these reflect the doses that most people can take every day without risk to health.


You may find some supplement ingredients such as Mushrooms with an asterisk or a bullet in the %NRV column. This is because only vitamins and minerals have established recommended intakes.


Make sure to look for any warnings on your supplement label. These are often directed for consumers with specific medical conditions. It is important to abide by all warnings and keep your healthcare provider aware of any supplement that you are taking.

Quality Certification

One of the main certifications to look for on supplements is the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) certificate which is required by all supplements produced in the US and ensures that companies adhere to approved processes for the manufacturing, packaging, labeling and storage of supplements.

You may also want to look for third-party testing certifications which some manufacturers may opt for from organizations like NSF or United States Pharmacopeia.