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Reading supplement labels

How To Read Supplement Labels Like An Expert

Supplements, unlike drugs, biological products, and medical devices, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) doesn’t regulate or certify supplements in the same way. Therefore, if you’re thinking about taking a supplement, you need to be willing to do your own research and become your own kind of FDA investigator!

However, if you have no idea what you’re looking for in a supplement, or what you should be avoiding, you won’t know how to thoroughly check a supplement label. Therefore meaning that you could purchase a supplement that’s not only useless, but also potentially dangerous for you, or not in line with your diet.

There’s no need to panic because I have put together this article for you, telling you exactly what you should be avoiding, and what you should be looking out for when it comes to supplements so that by the end of reading this article, you’ll be ready to read supplement labels like an expert.

Supplement label close up

Things To Watch Out For

Proprietary Blends (Insufficiently Dosed Ingredients)

One of the most important things for you to watch out for, and avoid at all costs, are proprietary blends! A proprietary blend is a blend of multiple ingredients, and rather than the amount of every ingredient being shown on the ingredient label, only the amount of the entire blend is.

Brands that use proprietary blends claim to do this in order to protect the formula, but it’s a practice that simply allows them to get away with putting low amounts of ingredients in and take advantage of those that don’t understand how to read ingredients labels properly.

Therefore, proprietary blends make it impossible to know how much of each ingredient you’re consuming, and therefore it’s also very possible (and very common) that the ingredients within the formula won’t be sufficiently dosed, meaning you might not even receive the benefits of the formula that the brand claims you will.

Supplement proprietary formulas

Sugars and Filler Ingredients

Although most supplement brands will claim that their formulas are good for weight loss, containing only the best natural ingredients and packed with natural flavoring, you will often find that sugars and fillers are used to flavor formulas.

These ingredients will often appear in the small ‘other ingredients’ section at the bottom of an ingredients label, with the brand attempting to hide the ingredients from potential customers.

The problem with the presence of sugars in supplements is that they make the formula no longer keto-friendly or weight loss diet-friendly. Therefore, the potential weight loss benefits of keto-friendly ingredients in the formula that may produce good results will actually be counteracted by sugars.

The problem with filler ingredients, such as maltodextrin and citric acid, is that they’re often added in large amounts, especially in supplements that contain proprietary blends, and therefore a large proportion of the serving you consume will actually be filler ingredients, therefore not benefitting the body.


You should avoid high-calorie supplements, especially if you’re on a weight loss journey, simply because a supplement should never need to be over 45 calories per serving. If a formula contains over 50 calories per serving, it’s important that you take a closer look at the label and ensure there aren’t sugars, filler ingredients, artificial flavorings, or artificial colorings present.

Obviously, the reason for avoiding supplements that are high in calories is because they’re not going to help you on your weight loss journey.

Even if you’re not on a weight loss journey, they’re going to take up a significant amount of your daily calorie intake, which could be filled by nutritious whole foods through your diet.

Things To Search For

Sufficiently Dosed Ingredients

Now that you know how important it is to avoid proprietary blends because they typically contain insufficiently dosed ingredients, obviously, the main thing you should be looking out for when looking at an ingredients label is sufficiently dosed ingredients.

Although not all of the ingredients within a formula will have a standard recommended daily dose, it’s important that you know, or research how much of each ingredient is needed to actually provide you with benefits.

Then, once you know these figures, you can ensure that the supplement you choose is providing you with sufficiently dosed ingredients.

Supergreen TONIK disclosed supplement label

Key Micronutrients

As amazing as receiving specific benefits from ingredients is, the main purpose of most supplements is to provide you with the essential vitamins and minerals you need to perform at your best every day.

Therefore, it’s important that you ensure the formula that you choose to consume actually contains the vitamins and minerals you need, such as vitamin A, B, C, D, E, K and folate, iron, calcium, zinc, potassium, selenium, copper, biotin, etc.

If a formula doesn’t contain these essential micronutrients, then it most likely isn’t made from the right ingredients or doesn’t have a sufficiently dosed formula, so you’ll want to stay away from it.

Good Manufacturing Practice & Third-Party Testing

Since the FDA doesn’t monitor, regulate, or certify supplements, it’s important that you choose a supplement that comes from a trustworthy and ultimately safe brand.

You should always choose to purchase from a supplement brand that has a GMP certificate (good manufacturing practice), meaning the brand sticks to strict processes of manufacturing, auditing, testing, labeling, and storing their products.

You should also try to consume a supplement that has been third party tested, so you know that the quality of what you’re consuming isn’t just approved by the brand that makes it, but by a third party organization too.

Both of these practices just make the supplement safer and more likely to be of high quality, so it’s best to go for formulas with GMP and third party testing certificates.

Supergreen TONIK

Now You’re All Set To Choose A Powerful, Safe Supplement!

Now that you know exactly what you’re looking out for and what you should be avoiding, you’re ready to start reading supplement labels like a pro, meaning you’ll only be purchasing and consuming the best on the market.

The most important thing to do when searching for a supplement is to go to the most transparent brand on the market and pick one of their supplements with a fully disclosed ingredients label that shows the formula contains sufficiently dosed ingredients.

If you know what you’re consuming and how much of what you’re consuming, you can monitor your nutrient intake and make sure you’re consuming the necessary amount of nutrients daily. So, always go for a transparent ingredients label!

If you’re looking for super greens or superfood supplement, in particular, allow me to take some comparison stress of your mind – take a look at my round-up of the best greens powders and superfood supplements on the market.

Adam Author

About the LifeHacker Guy

Hi, I'm Adam the founder of the LifeHacker Guy.

I have a First Class Honours degree in Sports Science from Brighton University, specialising in exercise physiology and nutrition. In my youth I was a competitive Triathlete and long-distance runner placing top 10 in most triathlon races I completed.

Since suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I moved into web development, after a couple of years I then moved onto developing a number of online businesses. I've recently taken a sabbatical and I'm now looking to make big changes in my life, hopefully this may resonate with you - join me in my journey!

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