Supplements: How do we know whether they contain the vitamins and minerals claimed?

If a bottle of supplement pills says it contains this vitamin or that mineral, how do we know that it’s anything more than sawdust ? We have to take the manufacturers’ word for it. We have no way of knowing what’s really in the pills and capsules.

1 Like

Check this site @AnnieG for some info on regulations for safety and quality.
There’s random surveillance on vitamin supplements to make sure all is well.


I was surprised that TGA page only referenced

AUST R numbers are for registered medicines that the TGA has evaluated for safety, quality and efficacy.

AUST L numbers are for low-risk listed medicines, such as most vitamin products, that the TGA regulates for safety and quality only.

but not L(A).

I have been taking Swisse Krill for years, It recently got new labelling and recommended dosages, and was ‘graduated’ from L to L(A).


The other risk is knowing what doses are safe. More isn’t better and can easily lead to toxicity if one has enough within their normal diet (which is almost everyone, unless one has been diagnosed with a deficiency). A leading neuroscientist has issued warnings about unnecessary/overconsumption of ‘supplements’:


It’s a great question.In the past i have asked Choice doing more testing on vitamins and minerals but basically told it was not possible.I have no doubt the majority of these pills don’t do as they say,and you notice it seems like every couple of weeks they have a new one that hits the shelves how is that possible more money to line the pockets of these companies

1 Like

Often not a new ingredient/compound/additive. Just a new product label and branding. Accompanied with claims this new wonder discovery (altered blend in reality) “may” assist to relieve, improve or change some conditions. Not unusual for these conditions to be newly discovered problems we all suffer from. And with everyday symptoms we all have but fail to recognise as conditions with potentially serious outcomes if we choose to ignore them. Those with financial investments in any of the major suppliers of such wonder products would fully agree. Their wealth is at risk when the marketing is ignored. :shushing_face:


New product label and branding i highly doubt that mark_m

The suggestion is brands are continually reinventing the products they sell.
One example:
I’m amazed at just how useful Magnesium is, although the marketing seemed to offer details of only 3 of the 4 products illustrated on the same page. Wishful thinking?

The arrival of some genuinely new chemical compound/substance ( patent protected) it is suggested is far less common.

It’s an aside to the focus of the OP on whether consumers can have any confidence concerning the actual ingredients.

Good day all 'n sundry,

I am unsure if this is where to park my query, if not, then the powers that be can feel free to move it.
My query concerns ambiguous labeling of vitamins.
Ostelin chewable Ca+Vit D mentions (on the bottle) 600 mg of the former and 500IU of the latter, see

Under the ingredients it mentions to take “2 a day”.

So is the 600 mg and 500 IU the ingredients of one tablet? Or of 2 tablets? Elsewhere, the label does not address this. BTW, I asked Ostelin this question in June, via their website, and am going gray waiting for a reply.

1 Like

It would very unusual for tablets not to specify the amount of each active ingredient per tablet, so I’d be pretty sure it’s per tablet.

But I suggest you ask a pharmacist about this.

1 Like

Every tablet medicine I have ever seen describes the active ingredients per tablet and the dosage may be more, equal, or less than one tablet, I have no reason to think this would be any different.

I agree with @isopeda and @syncretic. It will be per tablet.

The recommended dosage is 2 a day, if a deficiency is known to exist. Otherwise taking them won’t have any benefit and will be wasted money.

1 Like

@isopeda I will follow your recommendation

@syncretic I agree with your comment that “every tablet medicine I have ever seen…”. But this medication is the first not to specifically mention the ingredients in “each tablet”.

@phb In my case I need >1,000 mg Ca daily, so 2 x 600 mg makes sense. If I can be assured that each tablet indeed holds 600 mg. I am intrigued as to why Ostelin cannot confirm this simple detail.

Per tablet, recommended dosage of 2 tablets would give a user 1,000 ui in Vit D and 1,200 mg Calcium.

We have used exactly the same product, but now use another brand with included Magnesium (Mg) as well. Helps cramping having the Mg included.

Thanks, I hoped that would be the case but it would be nice if Ostelin aped every other manufacturer or marketer in mentioning this “per tablet”.

Yes, most very clearly - and simply - say “Each tablet contains …”. Not a very difficult thing for Ostelin to do too!

1 Like

How odd. I just grabbed 6 medication packets from around the house and one said “per tablet”, the rest just stated an amount, eg 500mg. Ostelin isn’t the only one to not add that phrase.


No not difficult but is it obligatory or even important?

Is there any chance that the number on the packet does not refer to the content of each pill? I would say the answer is none at all. In practice there is no confusion. But is it important to know this anyway?

The directions are NOT to take x milligrams so many times a day but take y tablets so many times a day. Anyone who can not follow such a direction ought not be in charge of their medication. Directions are given in this way specifically to avoid the patient having to look at the packet and do sums to get the right dose you only have to be able to count up to a small integer reliably.

So by leaving off “per tablet” there is no problem as the patient is not required to read it at all.

So this is not an important problem.

This thread is about the question of do supplements actually contain the active ingredient as stated which is entirely different. So can we stop this now?

Hmm … yes, some don’t, but I think they might be the minority. I just had a look at our varied collection of prescription medications, vitamins, antacids, analgesics, etc, and only two (of at least a dozen) didn’t clearly state the contents of one tablet. Many (prescription meds always) would have come with a leaflet with more detailed information - discarded long ago, but might have been more explicit.

I do think all of them should explicitly state what’s in each tablet / capsule, to avoid confusion (and accidental overdose).

What other interpretation is possible and how does that lead to incorrect dosing? Please lay it out for me.