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Question:
Are the "% DV" numbers on vitamin supplement labels really based on what I need?

Answer:
Yes and no. The most current DVs (Daily Values), updated by the FDA in 2016, do accurately reflect the basic daily intake requirements for vitamins and minerals. However, companies are not required to use the updated DVs on product labels until at least 2020. In the meantime, many vitamin and supplement labels will be misleading — providing "%DV" values based on terribly out-dated DVs establish in the 1960s. The new DVs include separate values for infants, very young children, and women who are pregnant and lactating. 

Some important changes in 2016 to the DVs for most adults and children over age 4 include the following. (Keep in mind that your supplement label is most likely still based on old DVs):
  • Vitamin D: The DV doubled, from 400 IU (10 mcg) to 800 IU (20 mcg). (Note: Many people who are not deficient in vitamin D may already be taking too much.) Labels will also have to list vitamin D in different units (mcg), but can include the familiar IU (international units) values (1 mcg = 40 IU).


  • Folate: Recognizing that about 70% more folate is absorbed from supplements containing folic acid (synthetic folate) than from foods naturally containing folate, the DV (which remains at 400 mcg) is now based on "dietary folate equivalents," shown as "DFE". A supplement with 400 mcg of folic acid is to be labeled as providing 170% DV rather than 100% DV.


  • Vitamin B-12: The DV decreased from 6 mcg to 2.5 mcg


  • Biotin: The DV decreased from 300 mcg to 30 mcg


  • Niacin: The DV decreased from 20 mg to 16 mg


  • Chromium: The DV decreased from 120 mcg to 35 mcg


  • Vitamin C: The DV increased from 60 mg to 90 mg.


  • A DV for choline has been established the first time, at 550 mg.

For more about these changes, see "ConsumerLab.com Helps Consumers Make Sense of the FDA's Updated Daily Values (DV) for Vitamins and Minerals."

ConsumerLab.com lists the new DVs (as well as RDAs and Upper Tolerable Intake Levels (ULs)) for each vitamin and mineral at www.consumerlab.com/rdas.

You'll find further information about each nutrient within our Product Reviews, including our tests, reviews, ratings, and comparisons of products.

Also see these related CL Answers:



Can taking too much vitamin B-6 be dangerous? The label on my multivitamin states it contains 2000% the Daily Value!  >>

Can taking too much vitamin B-12 be dangerous? The label on my B-complex states it contains 50,000% of the Daily Value!  >>

How can the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for magnesium be higher than the Upper Tolerable Intake Level (UL)? That is, how can an amount which is healthful also put you at risk for harm? >>

What is the difference between the RDA and the DV for vitamins and minerals? >>

See other recent and popular questions >>
COMMENTS

Dennis 16885   June 6, 2018
I will continue with what I have used for many years.

Susan8522   March 13, 2016
For a while I have been concerned about vitamin B12. We apparently need a very small amount, yet many products contain 1000 micrograms. I am taking Jarrow (a brand I hope I can trust) methylcobalamin, because I read somewhere that this form is better than cyanocobalamin, but I don't really know. This Jarrow product is also 1000 micrograms. I am vegetarian and want to be sure I am not deficient, otherwise I probably would't take any B12. Please talk about the prevalence of B12 products that contain 1000 micrograms. Thank you.

ConsumerLab.com   March 21, 2016
Hi Susan - Please see this CL Answer: https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/_/too_much_b12/. You can find information about methylcobalamin in the "What CL Found" (https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/_/bvitamins/#sublingual) and "ConsumerTips" section of the B Vitamin Supplements Review (https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/_/bvitamins/#cobalamin).

Mrs. Priscilla8521   March 13, 2016
Thank you for the update on vitamins we take as your new findings are very helpful. I will check current vitamins to see where they stand. On calicum there have been other recent articles regarding amount per day and to eat more foods with calicum instead of taking a pill.

ConsumerLab.com   March 14, 2016
Thank you for your kind words Mrs. Priscilla. You can find more information about calcium intake, and calcium from foods versus supplements, in the "What to Consider When Using"
(https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/_/calcium/#using) and "Concerns and Cautions" (https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/_/calcium/#cautions) sections of the Calcium Supplements Review.

Jill8519   March 13, 2016
It would be very helpful if CL would place this info in an easy-to-read chart, or charts, so that subscribers might print the chart out and have it handy. Of course, I can create a chart with the info in the answer too, but I'm sure many people would like an easy way to access the DV info.

ConsumerLab.com   March 14, 2016
Hi Jill - Thank you for your comment. A chart is available at: http://www.consumerlab.com/rdas/. We have also added a second link to this chart from the bottom of the answer.


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This CL Answer initially posted on 3/12/2016. Last updated 10/22/2017.
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