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The Fine Print on Vitamin Labels is Wrong!

We often caution consumers not to believe the big print in advertising because the fine print may well contradict it. Now we have to say that you can’t always even rely on the fine print either to give you the straight poop.

Case in point: According to ConsumerLab.com, the fine print on the back of vitamin labels is currently wrong and is going to continue to be wrong for possibly the next four years!


vitamin label

Last July, the FDA changed the daily values (DV) recommended for 20 vitamins and minerals. The amount was raised for eight nutrients and lowered for a dozen others. The catch is that food and supplement makers were given until 2018 to change their labels. But in mid-June, the FDA quietly indicated it was going to extend the deadline. The industry had requested a reprieve until 2021.

This obviously leaves consumers in quandary as to whether they are getting enough or too much of the vitamins and minerals the government now says is the correct amount.

In the above example for Centrum Silver for example, the label says you’re getting two and half times the daily amount of vitamin D in every pill. But the daily amount of vitamin D has doubled from 400 IU (10 mcg) to 800 IU (20 mcg). So Centrum’s 1000 IU dose is really only 25% more than the new recommended amount rather than the two and half times that the label claims.

Here are the changes in daily values of vitamins and minerals according to the FDA.


Magnesium has increased from 400 mg to 420 mg

Manganese has increased from 2 mg to 2.3 mg

Phosphorus has increased from 1,000 mg to 1,250 mg

Potassium has increased from 3,500 mg to 4,700 mg

Calcium has increased from 1,000 mg to 1,300 mg

Vitamin C has increased from 60 mg to 90 mg

Vitamin K has increased from 80 mcg to 120 mcg

Vitamin D has increased from 400 IU (10 mcg) to 800 IU (20 mcg)

Chloride has decreased from 3,400 mg to 2,300 mg

Chromium has decreased from 120 mg to 35 mg

Copper has decreased from 2 mg to 0.9 mg

Molybdenum has decreased from 75 mcg to 45 mcg

Zinc has decreased from 15 mg to 11 mg

Thiamin has decreased from 1.5 mg to 1.2 mg

Riboflavin has decreased from 1.7 mg to 1.3 mg

Niacin has decreased from 20 mg to 16 mg

Vitamin B-6 has decreased from 2 mg to 1.7 mg

Vitamin B-12 has decreased from 6 mcg to 2.5 mcg

Biotin has decreased from 300 mcg to 30 mcg

Pantothenic acid has decreased from 10 mg to 5 mg

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

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3 thoughts on “The Fine Print on Vitamin Labels is Wrong!”

  1. This is good info to know: the revised FDA DV numbers. But I’m not too worked up about the delay on the labeling requirement unless they delay it further. I imagine the vitamin makers will want to reformulate their product to take the new DV numbers into consideration, and that takes time. Take pantothenic acid, for example. If they changed the label now on the existing product, they would be shown as providing 200% of the DV. But maybe Centrum (or whomever) doesn’t want their pill to be providing 200%… they only want to provide 100%. So they reformulate their product and have to change the label again, showing the new 100% value. But then some consumer watchdog takes them to task for lowering that ingredient from 200% to 100%, and their brand gets a black eye. Obviously, they don’t want that. So it isn’t just about labeling. That’s my guess anyway.

  2. But it would be such a burden to make these multi billion dollar companies actually update labeling in a timely fashion…

  3. Giving a certain amount of time to update labels and reformulate if desired is reasonable — but they had that with the original 2018 deadline (keep in mind that the updated DV recommendations are already almost a year old now). Four years (really 4-1/2 years, if the new DV recommendations were announced in June 2016 and don’t have to be reflected on labels until January 2021) is pretty excessive.

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