Whether you grew up taking a brightly colored Flintstones vitamin every day or depended on reminders from your parents to eat your vegetables, you learned the importance of getting your vitamins on a daily basis. With consumers increasingly demanding transparency in the nutritional content of the foods they choose, do you know which vitamins you need to list on your labels? If you are choosing to make a claim on your label regarding the vitamin content in your product, do you understand how that vitamin appeals to consumers?
To answer these questions, let’s break down the 13 essential vitamins the body needs in order to function, all of which can be consumed through foods and beverages.
- Vitamin A aids your vision, keeps your teeth healthy and maintains skeletal and muscle tissues. Sources of Vitamin A include carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkin.
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant and helps with the growth and the repair of tissues. It can be obtained by eating or drinking a variety of fruits and vegetables.
- There are eight B Vitamins that support the body by assisting with cell growth, regulating your metabolism and mental health. Common sources of B Vitamins are meat and dairy products, leafy greens and fatty fish.
- Vitamin K supports blood clotting and is found in foods such as leafy greens and brussel sprouts.
- Vitamin E is an antioxidant and supports the immune system and metabolic health. Nuts, seeds and avocados contain Vitamin E.
- Vitamin D absorbs calcium in the human body, which helps build bones and keeps them strong. Humans commonly acquire Vitamin D from the sun, but you can also find it naturally in swiss cheese and fatty fish.
While all of these vitamins carry importance for human health, the only vitamin mandatory to be listed on the new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Nutrition Facts Label is Vitamin D. Vitamin A and Vitamin C were previously obligated to be on the label, but are now considered voluntary.
As a food industry professional, do you know when it’s required for you to list a vitamin, other than Vitamin D, on your label? It is becoming increasingly more common for food manufacturers, retailers or even restaurants to highlight when a meal or food product is considered an “excellent source” or “good source” of a particular vitamin. These types of claims are called nutrient content claims, which are based on the reference amount customarily consumed (RACC) and the percent Daily Value (%DV) of the nutrient. The %DV of the vitamin for the serving size is what determines if a food manufacturer or retailer can use the terms, “excellent,” “high” or “good source” before the vitamin. For example, orange juice is an “excellent source of Vitamin C,” because it contains more than 20% of the Daily Value. In order to use the term “excellent,” the %DV found in the product must be 20% or more. If you decide to make a claim about a voluntary nutrient anywhere on your label, then you are required to also list that specific vitamin on your product’s nutrition label.
How does the FDA verify a vitamin claim or the accuracy of a nutrient amount on your label?
If the FDA pulls your product for testing, they will follow the protocol for either Class I or Class II nutrients based on your product. Class I nutrients are for fortified foods, which means the manufacturer added the nutrient to the product. For example, if a manufacturer adds Vitamin D to milk, this would be considered a fortified food. Class I nutrients must meet the declared value on the label.
If the vitamins declared on the label are naturally occurring in the food or beverage, then the FDA will follow the Class II Nutrients protocol. Class II nutrients must be equal to at least 80% of the value declared on the label. The vitamin may be over declared as long as the manufacturer is following appropriate food manufacturing practices. This is why it’s important to test for the nutrition values in your product using the appropriate analysis method. The difference between whether a manufacturer needs to use database vs lab analysis depends on several factors, including recipe and cooking methods. If the incorrect method is used, your nutrient values could be inaccurate.
How confident are you in your nutrient data for your product? Mérieux NutriSciences provides Nutrition Content Claim Validation and analytical testing for many of the essential vitamins. Our expert Regulatory Compliance team can help develop or review nutrient content claims for your products to make sure they are accurate. A shelf life study can also be critical when making vitamin claims to ensure the vitamin value lasts the duration of the product. Download our Vitamin Testing or Shelf Life Study Sell Sheets today to learn more!
Meet the Author
Sophie Plummer, RD
Associate Nutrition Program Manager, Mérieux NutriSciences
Sophie Plummer is the Associate Nutrition Program Manager at Mérieux NutriSciences. She received her Bachelor of Sciences in Applied Health Science, Dietetics from Indiana University. Sophie received her MBA from Dominican University. In her free time, she enjoys cooking for friends and family as well as playing with her goldendoodle.