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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.