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Understanding Nutritional Labels

How to Read a Nutrition Labels

This chart provides the established daily values (DV) for nutrients that are commonly found on nutrition labels. Percent daily values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. All nutrients must be declared as percentages of the Daily Values which are label reference values. Declaring nutrients as a percentage of the Daily Values is intended to prevent misinterpretations that arise with quantitative values. For example, a food with 140 milligrams (mg) of sodium could be mistaken for a high-sodium food because 140 is a relatively large number. In actuality, however, that amount represents less than 6 percent of the Daily Value for sodium, which is 2,400 mg. On the other hand, a food with 5 g of saturated fat could be construed as being low in that nutrient. In fact, that food would provide one-fourth the total Daily Value because 20 g is the Daily Value for saturated fat.

  Nutrition Facts  
Be sure to check     Serving Size:   This is the recommended
serving size.   daily intake (DV) for
Sometimes you   Amount per Serving % DV     adults and children over
need more than 4. Some labels still use      
1 per day.   Total Fat 65 g 100%   the old name, %USRDA.      
  Saturated Fats 20 g 100%        
  Cholesterol 300 mg 100%        
  Sodium 2400 mg 100%        
  Potassium 3500 mg 100%        
  Total Carbohydrates 400 IU 100%        
  Dietary Fiber 25 g 100%        
  Protein 50 g 100%        
  Vitamin A 5000 IU 100%        
  Vitamin C 60 mg 100%        
  Vitamin D 400 IU 100%        
The letters "mg"   Vitamin E 30 IU 100%     IU stands for international
and "mcg" stand     Vitamin K 80 mcg 100%   unit, the unit of measure
for milligram and   Thiamin (B1) 1.5 mg 100%   for vitamins A, D, and E.
microgram.   Riboflavin (B2) 1.7 mg 100%  
1,000 mcg = 1 mg   Niacin (B3) 20 mg 100%  
  Pyridoxine (B6) 2 mg 100%   If a DV is more than 100%,
Some labels call     Folic Acid (B9) 400 mcg 100%   check to make sure the
this folate or   Cyanocobalamin (B12) 6 mcg 100%   amount is within safe upper
folacin, but all   Biotin 300 mcg 100%   limits.
supplements   Pantothenic Acid (B5) 10 mg 100%  
actually contain   Calcium 1000 mg 100%  
folic acid, the more   Phosphorus 1000 mg 100%   Women, look for 0-50% DV
potent form.   Iron 18 mg 100%     for iron unless you have
  Iodine 150 mcg 100%   heavy menstrual periods (in
Try to keep % DV   Magnesium 400 mg 100%   which case, you should
of zine and copper     Zinc 15 mg 100%   look for 100% DV).
close to even.   Selenium 70 mcg 100%  
When zinc is   Copper 2 mg 100%  
elevated, absorption   Manganese 2 mg 100%  
of copper can be   Chromium 120 mcg 100%  
impaired.   Molybdenum 75 mcg 100%  
  Chloride 3400 mg 100%   Make sure you see an
  expiration date. Use
  †Daily Value not established.   vitamins by this date, or
  EXP 8 04       they lose potency.