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Ep 7: Your Supplement Labels are Changing! Get the Facts

Hosted by: MegaFood | Podcast



Ep 7: Your Supplement Labels are Changing! Get the Facts

runtime: 20:39


Ep 7: Your Supplement Labels are Changing! Get the Facts

People who take a proactive approach to their health (aka, vitamin and supplement users like you) tend to also be label readers. That's why we want to equip you with all the right resources needed in order to fully comprehend these changes (and to know how to read these labels to begin with!) Special guest Carly Ducharme of MegaFood’s regulatory department joins Abigail and Killeen to lead the discussion on the Supplement Facts Panel changes in store.


Some excellent resources provided by Carly, today's special guest from the MegaFood Regulatory Department:

Need even more details? Visit the FDA's site for the nitty-gritty!


Below are both the old and new supplement facts panels that we used as examples while discussing the changes that were made.



Updated FDA Label

Announcer: [00:00] The statements in this podcast have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

[00:08] Welcome to episode seven of "That Supplement Show." Today, Abigail and Killeen are here to discuss the facts, and by that, I mean supplement facts, as in, the label on the back of your vitamins.

[00:18] I'm not sure about you, but I've always found that the label's a bit daunting. Now, I hear that it's going through some changes by account of the FDA. What does that mean for me? That's exactly what Abigail and Killeen are going to explain.

[00:28] Get your bottles ready, folks. Here we go.

Abigail: [00:31] Hey, Killeen.

Killeen: [00:31] Hi, Abigail.

Abigail: [00:34] What are we here to talk about, today?

Killeen: [00:36] It might sound funny, but I'm really looking forward to this very dense topic that we're about to delve into. I think we're going to have a lot of fun.

[00:42] We're going to talk about nutritional recommendations, and understanding your favorite product's supplement facts panel.

Abigail: [00:49] That's actually perfect for a show we call That Supplement Show. [laughs]

Killeen: [00:52] Yes, we are.

Abigail: [00:54] Not only as a supplement user, but I also used to work in a natural retail environment. I've seen and I've experienced the confusion that people can have in the supplement aisle, first hand.

Killeen: [01:04] My eyes just glaze over sometimes when I start looking at that little black and white grid.

Abigail: [01:09] Totally. If you go into any aisle, go visit your local co-op or Whole Foods, you'll see that dazed look. [laughs]

Killeen: [01:15] Yeah. You know what it is? Maybe it has to do with the fact that it's nutrients we're looking at, versus ingredients. I love to read food labels, and I think a lot of our listeners like to read food labels, and hence, it's why we're talking about labels. Nutrition labels are different.

Abigail: [01:33] Almost feel like you need a degree to understand them. Food, I understand, no problem.

Killeen: [01:37] Yeah. I shouldn't say nutrition labels, but supplement labels. It's heavy. Let's talk about that today.

[01:47] What I'm about to say might make it seem even more overwhelming at first, but I think that we'll have this worked out by the end. Ready?

Abigail: [01:56] Mm-hmm.

Killeen: [01:57] The FDA recently made the biggest update to nutrition and supplement fact panels in over 20 years. 20 years ago, I was definitely not reading labels, and I don't think you were, either, since you are younger than I am.

Abigail: [02:09] I was not.

Killeen: [02:09] We are about to see the changes to the labels of all our familiar and favorite products. Maybe we will be grabbing stuff off the shelf and not turning it over, because it's something that we're familiar with. Why would we need to re-read the label?

[02:22] Perchance, if someone does, they're going to see something different, potentially. We need to talk about that.

Abigail: [02:27] My initial reaction to that news was, "Oh, no," and, "That sounds like a headache." The more you think about it, this is actually really good news, because nutrition science, it's always growing, it's evolving.

[02:37] If they haven't made a giant update in 20 years, there's a lot of ground that's been covered in the way of nutrition science. This is going to make it easier for the average consumer to understand nutrition, ensure people are getting enough of it, and make it a little bit easier. There's going to be that learning curve. Let's dive in.

Killeen: [02:56] Sure. Before we do, I'd like to ask, is this something that the FDA is really going to be shouting from the rooftops? "Hey, we're making these changes." Are people going to be aware of it, or is it just rolling out, and because we work for a supplement company, we know about it?

Abigail: [03:13] It's something that we know about right now, and it's going to trickle out. I talk to retailers occasionally, and they are surprised, too. They haven't heard it yet, and they deal in supplements all day long.

Killeen: [03:22] Interesting. You know what I think we should do? We should get some history regarding these new recommendations. First of all, I'm not sure of the difference between daily value, as we see listed on the supplements back panel, and then recommended daily allowance, or RDA, that I see in other places.

Abigail: [03:40] Lot of acronyms, and to be honest, that's not my area of expertise. I know that we normally call the doctor when we have a question like this.

Killeen: [03:47] Yes. Dr. Erin Stokes is our go-to whenever we are talking about supplement, or health, or wellness-related conversations.

Abigail: [03:55] Absolutely. She is always a phenomenal resource, but I think, in this case, someone's going to know what's going on with supplement fact labels. It's going to be Carly.

[04:02] In addition to her role in regulatory here -- this blew my mind when I heard it -- she has a bachelor's in neuroscience, a master's in biology. She is a registered dietician, and she is working on her PhD in public health.

Killeen: [04:15] She is the sweetest person, ever. Very cool. Would love to call her. Before we get them on the line, let's take a moment for a word from our sponsor.

Announcer: [04:24] This episode is brought to you by Adrenal Strength. Does comparing all those supplement labels leave you feeling stressed out? Perhaps you should turn over a bottle of MegaFood Adrenal Strength, which promotes a healthy response to, you got it, stress.

[04:36] Made with vitamin C from Uncle Matt's organic oranges, and organic brown rice from Lundberg Family Farms, this formulation also contains Sensoril, a clinically-studied extract of ashwagandha root, shown to promote emotional balance and well-being, and helps to reduce physical, emotional, and mental stress.

[04:51] Taken daily, Adrenal Strength can help increase your resistance to fatigue and tension. I say, sign me up. Want to learn more, too? Visit, and search for Adrenal Strength. Now, back to the show.

[05:03] [phone rings]

Carly: [05:03] Hello?

Killeen: [05:04] Hi, is this Carly?

Carly: [05:09] This is.

Killeen: [05:10] Hi, Carly. This is Killeen and Abigail calling. How are you?

Carly: [05:13] I'm great. How are you?

Killeen: [05:15] We're doing good. We're sitting here, talking about some of the changes that are going to come up regarding the FDA labeling change. Abigail mentioned that you would be the perfect person to rope into our conversation today.

[05:31] I was hoping you could maybe give us your two cents. Is that cool?

Carly: [05:34] I would love to help you.

Killeen: [05:37] Great. Before we get into the heart of the conversation, I do want to talk about you for a second.

[05:42] Abigail already gave you a great intro of all these impressive accreditations you have, but considering that the majority of our listeners don't work in the same industry as us, the dietary supplement industry, I thought we'd take a moment to explain what one actually does when working in a regulatory department.

[06:00] In your case, that would be MegaFood's regulatory department.

Carly: [06:04] Sure.

Killeen: [06:07] Thank you.

Carly: [06:08] Thank you so much for that great introduction. When you think about what does someone do at a regulatory department for a supplement company, you might not know, and a lot of people don't even realize that supplements are regulated, which they are. It's important to state that.

[06:23] We're governed by the FDA, which is the Food and Drug Administration, and also the FTC, which is the Federal Trade Commission. My job, really high level, is to keep our company safe, to make sure we're following these regulations, and really keep our consumers safe, so that they know what to expect.

[06:42] The way I do that, myself and my team, is we look at all the marketing materials, all the labeling, everything, to make sure what we say is true, and it's not misleading. We don't want anyone to take a product and misunderstand what it's meant for, or not go see their doctor when they should.

[07:01] My job is to keep the company and our consumers safe.

Killeen: [07:04] Thanks for clarifying that. It really is great to also give you a chance to step up on that soapbox that I know regulatory has about reminding everyone that even though supplements are regulated by the FDA under a different set of regulations than food, they are indeed still regulated. That seems to be such a misconception.

Carly: [07:22] It really is. I can't even believe how many times I hear that, that supplements aren't regulated. First of all, I know they are, because it's my job, and also, they're just regulated differently than pharmaceuticals. That's why they're affordable.

[07:35] If we were regulated the same way as drugs, you wouldn't be able to buy a product for an inexpensive amount. You'd really have to go to a doctor, get a prescription. The whole point of supplements is to not have to do that, because we know how great vitamins, and minerals, and things that we find in nature are.

[07:55] We're regulated to the appropriate amount, and it's just different, like you said.

Killeen: [07:59] That's a really great distinction. It actually makes me think that maybe at some point, we should do another episode that talks about the cost of supplements, and exactly what goes into making a supplement, and why some might be a higher price point than others. It seems like a good conversation that maybe you can join us again for.

Carly: [08:16] I agree. Let's do it.

Killeen: [08:17] [laughs] OK, cool. For today, before we talk label changes, let's talk about the basic label. We see labels all day, every day, especially those of us who love to read labels. I thought it would be good to go over the parts of a supplement facts panel. Does that sound like something that we could cover quickly to look at the pieces and parts there?

Carly: [08:40] Absolutely.

Killeen: [08:43] For anybody listening, you can visit our show notes at, and look for episode seven, and we'll give you a nice visual of a supplements facts panel. Alternatively, you can also grab any vitamin bottle out of your cabinet. Of course, it doesn't have to be a MegaFood bottle, but we hope it is.

[09:02] For our example, we're going to use a supplement facts panel from the product that's sponsoring today's episode, which is Adrenal Strength. It also happens to be one of the products that's undergoing this label change we're talking about.

[09:16] Carly, let's dive in to the different components of a label on, for example, the Adrenal Strength formulation.

Carly: [09:24] Sure. I'm looking at that example right now. You're right. A lot of people like you and myself love to go to look at these things, but some people may not pay too much attention. What you really want to know, first of all is the serving size.

[09:38] This example says two tablets. Everything that you're reading here, all the information, is for that two-tablet serving size. If you take one tablet, you're not getting what's in it. If you take three, you're not getting what's in it. You really want to stick with that serving size.

[09:51] Then, if you look down below that, it's going to tell you all the ingredients that are in the product, and the amounts. You see some milligrams. You might see something in micrograms. You might see IUs. I know we'll talk about that later, but that's the unit of measure and how those things are measured.

[10:09] Say, vitamin C. In this example, there's 100 milligrams. You'll see parenthesis, it's ascorbic acid in organic whole orange. It really tells you the form of the nutrient, and how you're getting it, because there's different forms of different nutrients. Sometimes, you want to know specifically what you're getting.

[10:26] Then, there's also a percent DV, which is daily value. That's really how much the governing bodies, like the Institute of Medicine, the IOM, or the FDA, which we've talked about recommend that you get per day, because otherwise, how would you really know if 100 milligrams is what you want?

[10:44] You can see over here that that's 167 percent of your daily value, so it's more than 100 percent, which is all right.

[10:52] It goes down from there. It lists all the ingredients and the daily values. Then, there's a section called Other Ingredients. Those are things we call incidental additives or things that are added to the product, but they don't contribute to the nutritional value.

[11:06] Maybe they are there to hold the tablet together, or to make it easier to swallow. Things that we have to add to make the product useful, but they don't contribute to the nutritional value. Then a suggested use. It tells you, again, two tablets, daily, and may be taken anytime throughout the day, even on empty stomachs.

[11:26] You want to make sure you read through your labels. A lot of times, people think I just need one a day, or they don't read the right serving size, or they might think they're getting one form of a nutrient, and they're not. It's really important to look at that label. I'm glad that you asked that.

Killeen: [11:42] Good information. Thank you so much. Here's another question. Not to digress too much, but I really want to know this. When I am walking through the supplement aisle, and I pick up a bottle, that bottle doesn't know me from a hole in the wall.

[11:58] When that bottle tells me that 100 milligrams of vitamin C, for example, is 167 percent of my daily recommended value, where are we getting that number? Obviously, that might be different if a different person of a different size or a different age picks up that same bottle. Who is this bottle label speaking to?

Carly: [12:21] Great question. I have a couple of comments on that. First of all, most of the products, the DV you're looking at here for this product, it's based on adults or children greater than or equal to four years old.

[12:32] If there is a product marketed to, say, a pregnant woman, or a child, the DVs would be different. These values really are specific to that population. That being said, sometimes, there's going to be more than 100 percent. Like this vitamin C example, it's 167 percent. You may think, why not just 100? That's a great question.

[12:52] We do have doctors who specifically formulate our products, and feel that this is the amount that is needed. Also, a lot of vitamins are water soluble. Vitamin C is an example. It's not dangerous for you to take more than 100 percent.

[13:07] Of course, you don't want to have so much extraneous vitamin that you're just not able to utilize it, but this is the amount that our formulator has really decided is what this population needs. It's OK if you see a little more or a little less than the DV. Does that help?

Killeen: [13:22] Yeah, that helps a lot. Abigail is nodding her head over here next to me. That's really good information as well. Thank you so much.

[13:32] Let's not hesitate any further, here. Let's get into the said changes. Where do we start with what's changing, why it's changing, and what will be noticeable to consumers?

Carly: [13:44] It can be a bit overwhelming. I want to start high level, by saying this really came about more for foods. With the obesity epidemic, we really can tell that sometimes, people are overeating. I do it. We all do it. The FDA wants to help.

[14:01] When you look at, say, a can of soda. You'll drink a can of soda, and say you look at the calories, and you see it says 60 calories. You think, "Well, that's not so bad." Sometimes, that's only half of the can of soda, and there's actually two servings. Not many people would drink half a can of soda and put it back. I know I wouldn't.

[14:20] Exactly. Same for maybe a small bag of chips. Sometimes, food labelers have said there's three servings in there. This came about, one of the main reason for these changes, was nutritional facts, and to change what's called the RACC, recommended amount customarily consumed.

[14:38] What that means -- it sounds like a mouthful -- just what people think as a normal serving, like a can of soda. The FDA was going to update those things, so that it makes more sense what the label says and what you're getting.

[14:51] Also, with that came bolded calories, and some difference, but that's really food labels. Because we are under the umbrella of foods, the supplement fact panels are also changing, but we actually have a lot less to do than all these food companies, who really have to revamp their entire label.

[15:08] For us, it's more just some units are changing. When I talked about milligrams earlier, some of those are changing to be more consumer friendly, or to be more consistent. Also, the percent DV. We talked about how much you need in a day.

[15:26] That information hasn't been updated for about 20 years. All of these governing bodies -- the Institute of Medicine, the FDA -- have so much data on, say, vitamin C, vitamin E, and what we need in those different populations, that now they've said, "Hey, let's update everything." They're updating that as well.

[15:44] Supplements are feeling those nutrients and those unit changes. That's really the big change that we're going to see.

Killeen: [15:53] Comparing these labels side-by-side, going back, for example, the Adrenal Strength formulation. Again, in our show notes, we have that label. We've got a copy of the old label right next to the new label.

[16:07] I'm looking here and seeing that there is 100 milligrams of vitamin C in Adrenal Strength, just like there was before, but I'm seeing that daily value changing from 167 prior, to now 111 percent. I'm seeing exactly what you're explaining right here in front of me.

Carly: [16:27] It can be confusing, but if you look at it side-to-side, and you think, "Why is this different?" It's just a reflection of updated science. It doesn't mean people are changing their products and putting less or more in the product.

[16:40] If you see the same amount and a different DV, it just means that that percent daily value has been updated, and now, we're labeling in accordance to those updates.

Killeen: [16:49] When you say that it's been a long time since any changes were made, that makes me really happy that somebody is taking a look at this and saying, "Hey, our population is changing, and the information we have is far greater than it was. Let's make some updates."

[17:04] Go, FDA. I feel like I like them at this moment.

Carly: [17:06] Exactly. They're really trying to get with the most current medicine and current scientific information. Vitamins and minerals have a lot of documented science behind them. If we have new information, let's get it on the label.

Killeen: [17:20] Yeah, sounds great. For you, if you have a lot reading to do to get to the stage where MegaFood is at with making these changes, it must have been a lot of work.

Carly: [17:32] Yeah. The guidance is over 900 pages -- I'm sorry, the final regulation. That's because it talks about all the reasons behind everything. You can get as detailed as you want, and really read. Like I said before, the food companies really have a lot of work to do.

[17:46] I feel like the supplements, there's a lot, but it's manageable. If we really can help consumers understand what's changing, it will be a great thing. It's moving in the right direction.

[17:59] Yes, we do have a lot of reading. We always go to conferences and stay up-to-date on the most current regulatory information. I really think that we can help consumers understand this, and that this is a really great thing to do.

Killeen: [18:12] It sounds like, for anybody listening who maybe doesn't take a lot of supplements, hopefully, we've just helped uncover the changes on food labels, too. I didn't even realize that, because here I am, working for a supplement company, where that's what we're talking about.

[18:28] When you let me know that indeed, food is changing, and even more so in certain cases, I'm glad to know why. Really, really interesting stuff, Carly.

Carly: [18:39] See, regulatory can be fun, too, Killeen.

Killeen: [18:41] [laughs] I definitely thought it sounded pretty dry when I was first introduced to the idea of a regulatory team, but you guys are really pretty cool, and you do a lot of cool stuff.

Carly: [18:53] Thanks. We think so. It's really interesting. Of course, reading a 900-page document is not always the most fun, but getting to the root of why things are changing, and how they're helping people, is really fascinating.

Killeen: [19:06] We all thank you for reading those 900 pages, so we don't.

Carly: [19:09] [laughs] Absolutely.

Killeen: [19:11] This has been fun, Carly. Thanks so much. We'd love to have you back again. Have a great day.

Carly: [19:17] Any time. Talk to you soon.

Killeen: [19:19] Abigail, you were spot-on on calling Carly.

Abigail: [19:22] Yeah, I'm so glad. I thought that might be a good idea. There's more good news here. You don't have to memorize all the great information that you just heard. We've summarized all of it for you, in a link that you can find right in our show notes.

Killeen: [19:33] I love our show notes. Whoever out there decided that podcasts should have show notes was brilliant.

Abigail: [19:38] I'm ever grateful for you, Killeen, because you do a great job compiling them for our listeners.

Killeen: [19:43] Thank you. Just to remind our listeners, to access those wonderful show notes, you go to, and look for episode number...What episode are we in?

Abigail: [19:54] Seven.

Killeen: [19:54] Seven. Lucky number, seven.

Abigail: [19:56] Thanks so much for a great chat today, Killeen, and another thank you to Carly for joining us. I really hope that we made our listeners' next trip to their local natural retailer a just little bit easier.

Killeen: [20:06] I think we have. Until next time, Abigail.

Abigail: [20:09] See you, Killeen.

Killeen: [20:10] Bye.

[20:10] [background music]

Announcer: [20:11] This podcast is brought to you by MegaFood, keeping it real, making vitamin and mineral supplements in New Hampshire, since 1973. Committed to making products that use real food from family-owned farms to make a real difference, they've produced some of the most effective and far-out supplements available today.

[20:25] Fresh from farm to tablet, there's no, "Syke" about it. MegaFood is as real as it gets. Do yourself a solid, and catch them on the flipside at

[20:34] If you have a moment, leave a review on iTunes, and let us know what you think. We'd love to hear from you.

[20:39] The statements in this podcast have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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