Go-to Guide on How to Read Your Supplement Labels

Go-to Guide on How to Read Your Supplement Labels

Navigating the marketing behind supplements is one of the most daunting topics facing consumers today. How well can you investigate what's behind a marketing campaign?  How can you efficiently search for and choose products that may help or hurt you (or your wallet)?

Learning to become an educated consumer of supplements is not an easy task.  So to give you a jump-start, here's a quick go-to glossary of common terms and claims found on supplement labels that you need to know about:

All Natural

While this term is frequently used, there is no current comprehensive regulatory standard adopted by the FDA for what constitutes "natural" on food or supplements.  When something says "all natural", it may just have 1% of something that is natural (like water) in it.  So be aware that it is a marketing tool. Use your common sense and read the ingredients. If you are not sure what each ingredient is, seek out valued sources to provide you with additional information. 

Directions (Suggested Use)

It is important that the full daily dose of active ingredients correspond to the correct amount of the active nutraceuticals used in the research and scientific background upon which product claims are based. Less than the recommended dose may actually result in unsatisfactory results.

Pill count

Check the pill count against the serving size and directions. If you see a serving size as two capsules, you must check how many times a day those two tablets need to be taken. If the directions say for you to take 2 tablets a day, 60 capsules will last you for a month, but if the recommended dose is 2 tablets 3 times a day, your bottle will only last 10 days!

Whole food

This can mean three distinctly different things:

  • It may contain vitamins and minerals from standard sources and also provide whole-food listed ingredients. Check nutrient sources for clues. For example, vitamin B1 from thiamin mononitrate, or magnesium from magnesium glycinate means the nutrients were not derived from whole foods. 
  • It may contain standard ingredients mixed with whole foods. Clues would be text that indicates the vitamins and minerals are part of a "matrix", "culture" or "complex".
  • The nutrients may actually be derived from whole-food ingredients, which have been standardized for their vitamin content.


Adhering to GMP regulations is not optional, it is the law. While it is a positive message when labels indicate that products are being manufactured in a GMP compliant facility, all supplements are required to be manufactured in such a facility.

Ingredients & Proprietary blends

Read about the ingredients from independent and reliable sources. Also note that having a product with a great amount of ingredients in very small amounts may not indicate the best "proprietary blend".  Including less than the clinically relevant amount of several ingredients may result in a combination, which will be ineffective or less effective.

Have questions about the supplements you're taking with AcnEase?  Let us know! 

With a promise of clear skin,
Dr. A

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