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Making Sense of the Food Label

Nutrition label

This label, from an 8-ounce container of plain, fat-free yogurt, shows 45% Daily Value (450 milligrams) for calcium. 

Checking the Label for Calcium

The Nutrition Facts Panel (often referred to as a "food label") found on food packages lists the nutrients in a food or drink — vitamins and minerals (such as calcium and vitamin D) and other components such as calories, sugar, fat, and protein.

Calcium Fortified

Some food packages read "good source of calcium," "fortified with calcium," or "calcium added." Calcium content of a specific food will vary depending on ingredients, because different brands may have slightly different ingredients. Check food labels to see how much calcium is in different foods.

% Daily Value

Food labels show a percentage or "% Daily Value" (DV) of the reference amounts of nutrients for daily intake. 5% DV or less of a nutrient (like calcium) in a serving of food is considered low; 20% DV or more is high.

Add It Up!

One way to calculate calcium is to add up the milligrams; girls need 1,300 milligrams of calcium every day. However, the Nutrition Facts Panel doesn't show milligrams of calcium. So, to calculate the number of milligrams of calcium, look at the % Daily Value for calcium on the label. To convert the % DV for calcium into milligrams, just multiply the % DV by 10 (or simply add a 0). Note: This calculation works only for calcium, not for other nutrients on the food label.
Girls ages 9-18 need 130% DV for calcium every day.

To read more about food labels, visit the FDA or KidsHealth for Parents.

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