Many people assume that the nutrition label on our food products cite the “% daily value” of the nutrient that is the optimal amount for our health and well-being.
This is most certainly not the case.
Keep in mind that often times on these labels the vitamins and minerals listed are actually added to the product. This is what is meant when the company says their product is “enriched.” You can determine whether the vitamin or mineral is one of the added supplements by then looking at the ingredient list, and knowing the chemical name for each nutrient, can see whether they’ve simply added a vitamin/mineral to their product, or if absent, is a naturally occurring vitamin/mineral in the food itself, the latter of which we prefer.
As a side note, the reason I personally prefer the whole food version of the nutrient is that I firmly believe their are aspects to these nutrients, perhaps on a micro level so small that we don’t yet understand, that adds to the natural bio-availability of the nutrient that can in turn benefit us more. It seems to me that the naturally occurring source of the nutrient, as nature built it, is what was intended for our bodies to use to begin with, as compared to a manufactured nutrient that has been added to the food that yes…the body can and does use…BUT *may* do so at the expense of other nutrients, as the body tries to “find” the micro nutrients necessary to help the artificial nutrient “work” in the body.
Please feel free to re-read that entire paragraph, and apologies for not being able to put it more simply.
An example of determining whether or not the nutrient on the Nutrition Facts label is naturally occurring in the food, or whether it’s been added to the food and listed on the ingredient label…and easy one…vitamin C.
Vitamin C comes in several popular forms, but in foods the most common I have seen is the ascorbic acid variety.
If you see a listing for “100% Daily Value of Vitamin C,” and then look on the ingredient side of the label and see “ascorbic acid”…you know that the vitamin C in the food is likely to be *mostly*…if not *all*…an added vitamin to the food product.
Ascorbic acid happens to be one of those rare vitamins that we can often use in larger quantities without any seeming negative impact, or “robbing” of other nutrients in the body (though for some people, with varying conditions depending on their overall health, it can and may in my opinion) but is also water-soluble, therefore just about impossible to “overdose” on.
So it makes for a great example.
Learn the chemical names for the rest of the nutrients, and you will be able to spot them readily on the ingredient side of the label, and know whether it was added/”enriched,” or was a naturally occurring nutrient in the food itself.
Our opinions on the enrichment of our foods pending…especially as it pertains to calcium, something we largely disagree with.