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Reading the Label
January 1999

Dietary supplement labels are filled with useful information, but only if you know how to read them. While labels reflect new standards for clarity and inclusiveness, a working knowledge of terminology and values makes all the difference when it comes to understanding what the label really means. Also, certain label terminology, such as minimum daily requirement (MDR) versus recommended daily requirement (RDR) are subject to contention. So it will be worth your while to understand the differences between the two and to relate them to your own needs.

Developing a better understanding of supplement labels is an excellent way to begin your own dietary supplement quality initiative. Our SQ "glossary" will help you become more familiar with the terms commonly found on supplement labels. For a comprehensive look at supplements and their qualities and interactions, click to the SQ "links" page and then click on "The Natural Pharmacy". What you'll find is a website in the form of a pharmacopoeia featuring generic descriptions for almost all dietary supplements. Aside from its comprehensive nature, this site is notable for the rich background it provides on all entries, including a section on interactions.

Following are explanations of labeling content and how to interpret specific information. Click on a section heading at the right for quick access or the next page buttons for continuous reading.



Click on a section heading for quick access or scroll for continuous reading.

New labeling rules in effect

Health benefit claims

Ingredients and recommended dosages

Dosage units

Dosage amounts

Expiration date

Lot number

Dissolution and bioavailability

Certification claims


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(c) Copyright 1999-2003 Dietary Supplement Quality Initiative. For permission to reprint, please contact our editor.