Q: Julie - Do you have a brand suggestion for a dairy-free multivitamin and/or calcium supplement? I have use New Chapter in the past, but they recently added fermented milk on their labeling. I'm sure it's always been there, but they've just now disclosed it!!
A: Alisa – Julie’s problem with finding reliable dietary supplements is not uncommon. In terms of disclosure on labels, the FDA states:
“FDA regulations require that certain information appear on dietary supplement labels. Information that must be on a dietary supplement label includes: a descriptive name of the product stating that it is a "supplement;" the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor; a complete list of ingredients; and the net contents of the product …”
However, this does not mean that allergens such as milk (as of yet) will be easily identifiable …
It is important to check up on any unclear or dubious ingredients directly with the manufacturer. Also, it is very common for supplement manufacturers (just like food manufacturers) to change the ingredients they use without warning. The fillers used in a supplement or the source in which they are derived from may change at any time, so I make it a point to check the label of dietary supplements we utilize every time we purchase them. If anything looks uncertain, I contact the manufacturer.
Luckily, some brands make bold “free-from” or “vegan” claims right on their packaging or in their literature to make our lives easier. I have included the names and information of some of these brands for supplements, probiotics, and even skincare in Go Dairy Free, but here are two more that our family has started utilizing more recently, and that I am quite pleased with:
NOW Foods is excellent at fully disclosing their added ingredients in a clear format. Plus, on their website, and on the product labels they note specifically what the product is free-from. It is listed as “Contains no sugar, salt, yeast, gluten, milk, egg …” They also note if the product is Vegan/Vegetarian right on the label. NOW has a very complete line of supplements (they even make that “cheesy” food, nutritional yeast), and they are fairly mainstream. I have purchased this brand from Lucky Vitamin online (excellent prices but extremely slow shipping), though you can also find them in stores or through other online retailers such as Amazon. Company Website: www.nowfoods.com
Carlson Labs is another fairly common brand with excellent options that I generally trust for potency. Time and time again, they make the ranks in the reports from Consumer Labs. They too have easy to read ingredients, and note right on the bottle if the supplement is milk-free, yeast-free, gluten-free, egg-free, etc. For easy research, they also offer a product comparison chart right on their website to quickly identify which of their supplements are dairy-free, vegetarian, and/or free from other common allergens. This is another mainstream brand that can easily be found online at a discount. Company Website: www.carlsonlabs.com
Both of these brands offer multivitamins and calcium supplements (information on choosing the right calcium supplement is detailed in Go Dairy Free), in addition to various other dietary supplements. They can be found in health stores, online, and even in several mainstream grocers.
For more dairy-free Q&A topics, see our Ask Alisa Page.
Alisa Fleming is the founder of GoDairyFree.org and author of Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. In addition to her own dairy-free lifestyle, Alisa has experience in catering to the needs of various special diets, including gluten-free, soy-free, egg-free, vegan, and multiple food allergies.