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Organic vs. natural in your supplement choices

Supplement 101
Posted at 6:45 PM, Sep 27, 2016
Lynn Crisci's said taking vitamins and supplements benefits her health, but confesses she suffers from label confusion.  
 
"I don't really know what any of the terms on the bottles of the vitamins mean," she said.  
 
So what do those label terms like organic, natural and other claims mean?  Experts say it can be puzzling.
 
"It makes it difficult for them to determine what they need to take or what product they should purchase because they really don't know what those terms mean," said Sonya Angelone of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 
 
When you see "organic" on a label, it's actually a certification that means a product meets tough federal requirements.  
 
"Organic means that a product is made without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides that it doesn't have ionic radiation as part of the process and basically that it doesn't have any genetically modified organisms," Angelone said. 
 
A recent survey found consumer confusion between the terms organic and natural.
 
The FDA is deciding if it will create an official definition for natural, but for now, it considers it to mean the product contains nothing artificial or synthetic. 
 
Bottom line, if the FDA doesn't have a definition for something, they still have rules, the agency said.
 
 "The FDA does not approve supplement labels before they are put on the market, but all labels are required to be truthful and not misleading," Angelone said. 
 
So how do you know if you're getting what's best for you?  
 
"It's first really important to know what you need. The best way to determine that is to work with a registered dietician or your own personal physician so you know what you need."
 
Crisci said she tries not to be swayed by label claims but admits decoding the definitions can be tricky.  
 
"I like to think I'm an educated consumer and so I assume that everybody is in the same boat as me and they don't understand the labels as well as they want to on supplements," she said. 
 
For more on these terms and label claims for vitamins and supplements, click on these links: