Today’s lifestyle has led many individuals to add vitamin and mineral supplements to their diets. However, it can be challenging to understand which supplements to choose, especially if you don’t understand the units of measurement used on the packaging.
What Does “IU” Mean?
IU is the standard measurement used for many supplements. The acronym is for “international units.” This unit suggests the effect the amount or quantity of minerals, vitamins, or other substances should have on your body. This measurement form is used worldwide, creating a consistent standard among countries.
Why Is “IU” Used on Vitamin Labels?
IU is used on vitamins because it is standard across nations. Whether you purchase your vitamins in the UK or US, the effect should be the same if your IU is the same. The amount in the supplement has been specifically tested to determine its effects. This label denotes the specific quantity of purified mineral or vitamin. These designations are subject to international agreement for the particular product (e.g., Vitamin A).
How To Convert Between International Units and Micrograms
Milligrams (mg) are one-thousandth of a gram, while micrograms (mcg) are one millionth. Both these measure concentration and mass, whereas IU measures biological effect.
Your bottle or an online resource will tell you the number of IU per mcg or mg. Then, you can multiply the IU/mg or mcg by the number of mg or mcg in the supplement. If you found mg, calculate the mcg through division. To get IU, reverse the calculations.
What Does 5000 vs. 1000 IU Stand For?
As you may assume, 5000 IU has a more significant biological effect than 1000 IU. Before you take anything, you should know the proper dosage for you. For example, individuals with especially low levels of Vitamin D may choose or be directed to take 5000 IU of vitamin D, but most individuals only need 1000 IU.
While excess vitamins taken through food are typically harmless, they can be harmful if taken via a supplement. For example, water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins C and B, are flushed out of your system through urine. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in your fat and other body tissues. Therefore, these vitamins, including A, D, K, and E, can cause toxicity in your body.
Symptoms of toxicity include headaches, liver damage, difficulty breathing, high blood pressure, vision impairment, blood clots, and headaches. High toxicity can lead to severe internal damage and even death. Your physician can tell you the upper or maximum dosage you should take.
More Tips on Reading Vitamin Labels
As you choose your vitamins, pay attention to the active ingredients. You should understand where the vitamin came from and how it was processed. Pay attention to the other ingredients in the supplement as well. Although they are not active, they can cause an allergic reaction in some individuals. Also, check the expiration date, cautions, and certifications.
The recommended dietary allowances (RDA) and daily value (DV) are also necessary. They will tell you how much of the supplement you should take every day and how much of the RDA is available in one dose of the vitamin or mineral. DV, created by the FDA, is typically given as a percentage. Some supplements, such as mushrooms and herbs, do not have a DV indication, suggesting that no RDA has been set.
Today’s supplement market is flooded with options, so you may feel overwhelmed by the choices in front of you. Do your research ahead of time and consult with your physician for your recommended dosage. Purchase the highest-quality supplements you can find after carefully reading their labels.