The Nutrition Facts label is getting a makeover — its first in nearly a quarter-century. Most products will be using the updated label by Jan. 1, 2020, and some already are. There are many important updates to the Nutrition Facts label. Here are three new additions and why they matter.
You may have noticed vitamin D on Nutrition Facts labels before. Until now, vitamin D was voluntary to list. Now it’s required. Vitamin D is an essential, but underrated and under-consumed part of our diet. Its most critical role in our health is aiding calcium absorption to maintain strong bones. Vitamin D is difficult to come by in food, which is why most of us don’t get enough. Dietary supplements can also provide vitamin D and can be helpful to ensure adequate intake.
Outside of food, we can also get vitamin D from the sun. When our skin is exposed to the sun’s UV rays, our bodies are able to make vitamin D. The amount each of us can make depends on time spent in the sun, time of year and where you live.
Recommended intake: 15 micrograms (mcg)/day for ages 1-70
Usual intake: 4.9 mcg/day from food and 14.5 mcg/day from food + supplements
Food sources: The best food source of vitamin D is fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel. Other foods contain smaller amounts of vitamin D such as beef liver, cheese and egg yolks.
Like vitamin D, potassium used to be voluntary information on Nutrition Facts labels and is also now required. Potassium is an essential part of our diet. It plays major roles in maintaining normal blood pressure, nerve signaling and muscle contraction, each of which is integral to the cardiovascular system. In short, our hearts couldn’t beat without it.
Recommended intake: 4,700 milligrams (mg)/day for ages 14 and older
Usual intakes: 2,537 mg/day from food
Food sources: The highest food sources of potassium include potatoes, plain yogurts, beans and bananas. Many juices like prune, carrot, tomato and orange are also high in potassium. Milk and coffee are also sources of potassium. In fact, milk and coffee are two of the most common sources of potassium in the American diet.
Unlike vitamin D and potassium, added sugars are making their debut on the Nutrition Facts label. Added sugars are not an essential part of the diet, though there is room for small amounts of added sugars in a healthy diet. Although we’re eating less added sugar in recent years, we still eat more than the recommended amount, which is part of the reason they are required on the updated Nutrition Facts label. You’ll find added sugars listed below “Total Sugars.”
This blog includes contributions from Allison Webster, PhD, RD.
If you liked the article, check out Go Further with Food: Get to Know the New Nutrition Facts Label