Why Do Supplements Have High Daily Values?

Aug 05, 2022 Vitamins & Supplements

Why Do Supplements Have High Daily Values?

Quick Health Scoop

  • Daily Values (DV) for nutrients help you compare the nutrient contents of foods and supplements
  • Supplement fact labels for dietary supplements list the percent of the Daily Value (% DV) for nutrients provided in each serving
  • Understanding how much of a nutrient you should consume in one day will help you understand supplement facts as well as allow you to plan your diet and whether you should consider dietary supplements
  • Some dietary supplements provide nutrients at levels over 100% of the Daily Value but still below the upper intake limit (UI) or maximum amount recommended for that nutrient

Do you find nutritional labels confusing? You’re not alone. For packaged foods and supplements, the back of the package provides a list of nutrients found in one serving of that food or supplement with amounts and percentages of DV. If these numbers and abbreviations mean nothing to you, don’t worry. We’re going to break down the language found on dietary supplement facts labels and discuss what those percentages mean as well as why some are above 100%.

What Is Daily Value and % Daily Value?

First, let’s lay the groundwork. We know these terms can be confusing, so we’ll break them down further.

Daily Values (DV) were established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of foods and supplements so that they know how much of that nutrient they are consuming compared to the daily value. The DV for nutrients is the total amount of that nutrient to consume in one day and is usually based on the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for that nutrient as set by the Food and Nutrition Board [1].

The percentage of the Daily Value (% DV) is how much of that nutrient is in one serving of food or dietary supplement compared to its overall Daily Value [1].

For some clarity: the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is different from the Daily Value. The RDA is the average daily intake of a nutrient that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of most healthy people. These recommendations vary by age and sex and life stage (such as pregnancy or lactation) [1].

There are four different groups of Daily Values as defined by the FDA that may be used on food and supplement labels depending on the intended consumer for that product: infants through 12 months, children 1 through 3 years, pregnant and lactating women, and adults and children 4 years of age and older. Since space is limited on supplement labels, most products use the Daily Value for the most common group, adults and children over age four, unless the product specifies it is geared toward another age group, such as prenatal vitamins for pregnant women [1].

Before we move on, there are two other important terms you should be aware of: AI and UL.

Adequate Intake (AI) is the amount of a nutrient that may meet nutritional adequacy. This is used when there is not sufficient evidence to set a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for that nutrient [1].

And finally, the tolerable upper intake level (UL) of a nutrient is just what it sounds like: a maximum amount of a particular nutrient that is safe to consume in one day from all sources (foods and supplements). Anything higher might come with side effects or other health risks [1].

Learn More: Wellness Tips

How To Read a Supplement Facts Label

Now that we have the definitions, it’s time to tackle the supplement label. The supplement facts label does take some deciphering, but once you understand the underlying concept, it’s much easier.

To recap: Daily Values are meant to help you understand how much of a nutrient you are consuming in each serving, and the % DV helps you understand how it compares to your total daily intake needs and to also compare one product to another with ease. Here’s an example using Nature Made® Multivitamin + Omega-3 Gummies. This dietary supplement contains 11 key nutrients for daily nutritional support including 60 mg heart-healthy Omega-3s per serving.

Let’s examine two nutrients from the Supplement Facts:

  • Vitamin E: The DV for Vitamin E is 15 mg for adults and children ages 4 years and older [2]. A serving of two gummies provides 9 mg, which is 60% of the daily value for Vitamin E.
  • Vitamin D3: The DV for Vitamin D is 20 mcg (800 IU) for adults and children ages 4 years and older [3]. Two gummies provide 50 mcg (2000 IU) of Vitamin D3, which is 250% the DV for adults. Vitamin D comes in two forms: Vitamin D2 (plant-based) and Vitamin D3 (animal-based). Vitamin D3 is the body’s preferred form of Vitamin D.

But wait a minute, you ask, why is Vitamin D above 100% of the Daily Value? Now we get into the main purpose of our blog.

Learn More: Gummy Vitamins Vs. Traditional Vitamins

Why Do Some Supplements Have High Daily Values?

Many nutrients have shortfalls in the U.S. population. This means that a percentage of Americans are not reaching the recommended intake requirements of certain nutrients from diet alone. The daily intake of vitamins A, C, D, and E, as well as essential minerals, such as Magnesium,Calcium, Iron, and Zinc, are at inadequate levels by a portion of the population [4].

For common shortfall nutrients, like those stated above, increasing your % DV obtained  from food and/or supplements is a way to help you fill in potential nutritional gaps of these essential nutrients.

From our example above, the Nature Made® Multi provided Vitamin D at 250% the DV for adults. The RDA for Vitamin D ranges from 10 mcg (400 IU) up to 20 mcg (800 IU) for children and older adults, but what is important to know is the upper intake limit (UI). That number is currently 100 mcg (4000 IU) for most adults. However, for those adults diagnosed as vitamin D deficient by a healthcare provider, higher amounts (up to 250 mcg/10,000 IUs) may be needed to raise Vitamin D levels on a short-term basis [5].

Why would you want to have a higher % DV for Vitamin D? It is estimated that 95% of Americans don’t receive enough Vitamin D from their diet alone, and nearly one-third are Vitamin D deficient [6]. It’s important to check with your healthcare provider to determine your Vitamin D levels so you know how much of this nutrient you should consume daily, as well as any other nutrients that might be lacking from your diet.

Learn More: Multivitamin Benefits

The Bottom Line

Supplement Facts labels are a tool for you to determine how much of certain nutrients you are consuming in one serving. The percent Daily Value (% DV) is a way to measure that intake against the Daily Value (DV) of a nutrient, which is the total amount to be consumed over the course of the day. Dietary supplements offer some nutrients at levels above 100% of the Daily Value for a variety of reasons, but mainly for nutrients that are common dietary shortfalls and are provided at levels that are below the upper intake limit (UL) and safe to take without the risk of side effects. It is advised to check in with your healthcare provider before adding dietary supplements to your daily routine.

Learn More About Supplements:

†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

References

  1. National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. “Nutrient Recommendations and Databases.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Accessed on June 6, 2022: https://ods.od.nih.gov/HealthInformation/nutrientrecommendations.aspx.
  2. National Institutes of Health. “Vitamin E.” 2021. Accessed on June 6, 2022: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/.
  3. National Institutes of Health. “Vitamin D.” 2022. Accessed on June 6, 2022: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/.
  4. “Micronutrient Inadequacies in the US Population: An Overview.” Linus Pauling Institute, 14 Apr. 2022. Accessed on June 6, 2022: https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/micronutrient-inadequacies/overview.
  5. Hathcock, John N. et al. “Risk Assessment for Vitamin D.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Jan. 2007. Accessed on June 6, 2022: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17209171/.
  6. Reider, C.A.; Chung, R.-Y.; Devarshi, P.P.; Grant, R.W.; Hazels Mitmesser, S. “Inadequacy of Immune Health Nutrients: Intakes in US Adults, the 2005–2016 NHANES.” Nutrients 2020, 12, 1735.

Authors

Amy Mills Klipstine

NatureMade Sr. Copywriter

Amy has an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University in Los Angeles and is a credentialed English teacher, though she left the classroom to write full time. She especially enjoys creating educational content about health, wellness, and nutrition. Her happy place is in the kitchen, and when not writing, you can find her trying out “kid-friendly recipes” and “healthy desserts for chocolate lovers” from her Pinterest board.

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