In an effort to make nutrition easier to understand, the FDA has amended labeling regulations for foods. Providing updated nutrition information to assist consumers in maintaining healthy dietary practices, is their goal. The upcoming regulations will also require that vitamins A, D, and E be measured in mcg instead of units or IU’s.
What does this mean to you?
If you buy supplements, specifically vitamin A, D and E, you have been choosing your potency measured in IU. Whether your doctor told you to buy 1000 IU of vitamin D, or you read in your trusted health magazine to buy 400 IU of vitamin E, or you have been researching healthy supplemental amounts of vitamin A or beta carotene, those IU measurements will soon be a thing of the past.
You may have already noticed that the 4000 IU capsule of vitamin D that you regularly buy, now says 100 mcg!?!
Let the confusion begin.
These new labeling laws give companies up to 3 years to become compliant. In the meantime, we will see inconstancy on the health food store shelves, as well as on your favorite supplement website, as each company works it into to their manufacturing process to make the required label changes.
All doctors and practitioners are at risk of being confused, or confusing you, when they hand you a prescription for one of these vitamins.
Let’s look at this example.
1 IU of Vitamin D (cholecalciferol/ergocalciferol) is equal to 0.025 mcg. So from our example supplement above, 4000 x 0.025 = 100 mcg. But keep in mind, the conversions are different for all vitamins, complicating things further.
Vitamin A: 1 IU is the biological equivalent of 0.3 mcg retinol, or of 0.6 mcg beta-carotene.
Vitamin E: 1 IU is the biological equivalent of about 0.67 mg d-alpha-tocopherol (natural), or 0.9 mg of dl-alpha-tocopherol (synthetic).
Long story short, vitamin A and D are now measured in micrograms (mcg), and vitamin E is measured in milligrams (mg). Learn the difference between mcg and mg in this post.
So now what do you do?
When you need vitamins A, D, and E, double check your prescription and clarify with your doctor. Go to your trusted health food store employee before making your final purchase to determine that you are getting the correct measurement with this new labeling. Always follow dosing guidelines on the supplement facts panel.
Photo credit: someone on Pinterest we could not find