Frequently asked questions

Here we have listed some of the most important and often the most frequently asked questions that may arise in relation to food supplements and how to use them; placing orders in the e-shop; changing and/or cancelling orders.

If you can’t find the answer to your question and you think your question could be helpful to others, please let us know by sending an email to We will answer your question and promise to update the FAQ.

What is a food supplement?

The Estonian Food and Agriculture Board defines a food supplement as a food that is used to supplement the diet with various substances.

The food supplement meets all of the following conditions:

  • are intended to complement the normal diet;
  • are a concentrated source of certain substances (e.g. vitamins, minerals, caffeine, plant extracts, fatty acids, etc.);
  • are intended to be consumed in fixed doses or quantities;
  • are marketed in pre-packaged form in defined doses, such as capsules, lozenges, tablets, powdered sachets, liquid ampoules, dropper bottles and the like, intended for consumption in small measured quantities.

Lamberts’ philosophy is that the point of a food supplement is that the nutrients are more concentrated than the food!

Examples of supplements are vitamin D capsules/drops, zinc tablets, omega-3 fish oil capsules, incense tinctures, lactic acid bacteria capsules.

NB! Foods (e.g. snacks, breakfast cereals, drinks) with added vitamins/minerals or other substances (e.g. caffeine) are not food supplements, but ordinary food (so-called fortified food).

Products for the prevention, treatment and alleviation of diseases are not food supplements, but medicinal products, the marketing of which should be referred to the Medicines Agency. Products for external use (e.g. skin care products) and feed additives for animals are also not food supplements.

Read more Agriculture and Food Board.

Can a product placed on the market as a food supplement in another EU Member State be a medicinal product in Estonia?

Yes, can. The decision on product/ food supplement designation is always taken by the Authority on a case-by-case/product-by-product basis, taking into account all the characteristics of the product, including its composition, pharmacological properties, method of use, range of use, consumer awareness of the product and the risks it may present.

In most cases, food supplements that have already been registered in other European Member States qualify as food supplements in the Estonian market.

What do the SPK and NRV labels mean on a food supplement?

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is a set of reports compiled by scientists at the U.S. National Academy of Sciences for the U.S. and Canadian populations, along with statistical standards and tables to illustrate people’s daily requirements for vitamins and other nutrients.

The SPK is recommended and is considered to be appropriate for an average, safe and adequate daily intake of vitamins suitable for 97-98% of apparently healthy men, women, girls, boys and other age groups to prevent the development of vitamin deficiency-related medical conditions.

  • The abbreviation SPK (RDA) has been used by the FAO and the WHO since 2001 as a recommendation for an optimal daily intake of nutrients, vitamins, and trace elements.
  • NRV – Nutritional Reference Value (NRV) for adults of at least 15% of a nutrient to claim the content of a substance in a preparation.
  • NRV, which stands for % of the daily reference intake for adults, has been introduced in Europe as a new indicator. In terms of content, the NRV symbol serves the same purpose as the well-known SPK symbol. In order to be able to claim that a product contains/is a source of a certain vitamin/mineral, its daily intake must be at least 15% of the NRV.

Daily reference intakes and maximum daily amounts of vitamins and minerals can be found here.

Why should I take supplements?

Unfortunately, however, a large proportion of us do not eat in a balanced way or as recommended, as shown by a nutrition survey in Estonia, which means that many people may not be getting the right amount of nutrients.

Most vitamins are not produced by our bodies, so we need to get them from our diet. However, as our diets are often not varied enough, food supplements come to the rescue.

Vitamin needs depend mainly on life expectancy, with some vitamin needs also depending on gender. Adult vitamin requirements also depend on overall energy expenditure.

For example, during pregnancy and the growing period of the foetus, adequate intake of folic acid-containing foods is essential to reduce the risk of a malformed baby being born. During pregnancy and breastfeeding, the need for most vitamins increases. However, children and the elderly need more vitamin D than adults.  A stressful lifestyle, but also a very sporty one, increases the need for B-group vitamins, especially vitamin B1.

Vitamins and minerals are often taken to support the diet and prevent disease. For example, Echinacea purpurea, vitamin C and zinc can prevent colds and speed up recovery.

Medicinal plants have historically been used to prevent disease, treat inflammation, reduce fever and promote wound healing. Medicinal herbs can also be used to relieve various digestive problems, pain, relax or stimulate the body. Studies on certain medicinal plants and herbal products have shown that some may have similar effects to conventional medicines, while others may not. Medicinal herbs and their mixtures can sometimes even be dangerous to health, which is why it is important to use them correctly.

Scientists have studied natural products and found that they often have health benefits. For example, fish oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids, can help lower triglyceride levels in the body.

Nutrient needs of different groups of people:

  • People with low sun exposure

People who avoid sunlight or are on a snacking regime and whose diet does not contain enough vitamin D-rich foods, should supplement your daily diet with vitamin D. (Warning: vitamin D is toxic in large amounts and no one should exceed the recommended daily amount unless prescribed by a doctor).

  • Vegetarians and vegans

Vegetarians should also take B-group vitamins if they cannot get them from cereals and other whole-grain products. They may also need to take vitamin D, riboflavin (vitamin B2) supplements, multivitamins and monitor their blood iron levels. Vegans who do not consume dairy products, eggs, fish or meat may suffer from vitamin A deficiency if they do not eat enough fruit and vegetables.

  • Smokers

Smoking affects the absorption of several vitamins, particularly vitamins C and D. In addition, smoking can interfere with vitamin D metabolism, resulting in poor muscle function and a weak immune system. Quite often, studies also show a general deficiency of B vitamins in smokers.

  • Weight and dieters watchers

People on diets of less than 1,000 calories a day should also take multivitamins to keep vitamin levels in the body normal. They should also see a doctor regularly to make sure they are getting enough of the nutrients they need from their diet.

  • Seniors/Older people

Almost a third of older people do not get enough vitamins and essential minerals from their diet. Often their eating habits have become poorer and as a result they do not regularly eat a varied diet. In addition, the elderly are more likely to be forced to take various medications that prevent the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals. For more information on the interactions between medicines and vitamins, please contact our specialist.

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers

Pregnant and breastfeeding women often need a variety of vitamins and minerals in addition to food. Folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 are particularly important during pregnancy. It is also worth remembering the mineral iron, as it is iron that ensures the necessary levels of haemoglobin in the body. Haemoglobin levels can drop significantly after a bloody delivery.

Vegetarian women should also take B-group vitamins, as a deficiency of B vitamins can be harmful to the health of the baby. Folic acid reduces the risk of neural tube defects and possible facial deformities such as cleft palate. Studies associate low folate levels during pregnancy with low birth weight, which may increase the risk of heart disease in older age. The best solution is for women to start taking extra folic acid, along with the necessary complex vitamins and minerals, when planning to become pregnant.

Vitamins and mineral supplements should only be used when the normal intake of nutrients is insufficient.

Even for a woman who follows an “ideal” diet, it is almost impossible to get all the nutrients that the body needs during pregnancy, especially iron and folic acid.

For example, a woman may need more iron during pregnancy because the amount of blood in the body increases during pregnancy. Iron is an essential component of haemoglobin. It needs to be in normal levels to distribute oxygen in the body. If your diet doesn’t contain enough iron-rich foods, such as red meat, egg yolks and dark green leafy salads, and vegetables, your body will draw on the reserves it gets from bone marrow. There is a chance of developing anaemia. Iron is particularly important during the last trimester of pregnancy, when the baby’s needs are greatest, says Roy Pitkin, a doctor who was chairman of the National Academy of Sciences Council on Nutrient Needs during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding.

Are food supplements safe for your health?

Always inform your doctor and/or pharmacist if you are taking supplements or plan to combine supplements with conventional over-the-counter or prescription medicines. Giving up medicines and relying solely on supplements can do harm instead of good. This is particularly important to remember for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

When taking supplements, remember the following:

Like conventional medicines, food supplements can cause side effects or trigger allergic reactions. They may also interact with other prescription and over-the-counter medicines or food supplements. Side-effects or interactions with other medicines or food supplements may aggravate other health conditions.

The production process for food additives may not be standardised for all manufacturers. As a result, the effects and side effects of different brands of food supplements may vary. The form of a food supplement you buy from a health or grocery store may not be the form used in studies, etc. The long-term health effects of most food supplements (except vitamins and minerals) are not known.

Before taking a food supplement, make sure it is a good quality brand and if you don’t have any further information, ask your pharmacist, doctor or nutritionist for help.

All food supplements, vitamins and minerals sold in the Lamberts Estonia e-shop have undergone the product definition process of the Estonian Medicines Agency, have been approved by the Food and Agriculture Board and the MHRA and meet the same (GMP) manufacturing standards and quality requirements as over-the-counter and prescription medicines sold in pharmacies.

How to choose the right food supplement?

People take vitamins and supplements to support or strengthen their health. However, it is important to bear in mind that in all cases the product chosen may not always be beneficial or safe.

The fact is that both the Food and Drug Administration and the various national representative organisations in Europe do not regulate the market for food supplements in the same way as they regulate the market for pharmaceuticals, so the information on the can or packaging of a food supplement may not always be 100% accurate, so you should check the contents of the product and the brand name. In addition, some food supplements may contain ingredients that may not appear on the label.

It is important to educate yourself on this and to be equipped with some simple facts before taking supplements.

Below you will find a check-list to help you make the right choice.

Keep the following in mind when buying supplements or vitamins:

  • Make sure that the food supplement or vitamin preparation has been defined and/or registered by the organisation responsible for the safety of food supplements (e.g. the Medicines Agency, the Estonian Food and Agriculture Board);
  • Check that the product label contains the following information: the name of the food supplement; the name, address and telephone number of the manufacturer; a full list of the ingredients and active ingredients and the quantity in the tablet or capsule. GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) reference and/or label or other relevant quality mark.
  • Keep track of how much of the active ingredient (vitamin, mineral, herb, enzyme, etc.) is in the food supplement and whether the level shown is right for you.
  • Do the claims on a food supplement’s label or in advertisements seem too good to be true? If the claims don’t seem reasonable, they usually aren’t.

Only certain health claims may be made on the labels of food supplements and vitamins, and these fall into three categories: health claims, nutrient content claims, and claims and promises. Health claims are approved by the European Commission. See more.

How to take a food supplement?

Take supplements and vitamins as prescribed.

Supplements should be consumed with common sense. These simple tips should keep you on track:

  • Follow the instructions on the package and the instructions from your doctor and/or pharmacist carefully.
  • Keep a list of all the supplements and other medicines you take.
  • Write down which supplement/medication/other preparation you take, when and in what quantity. It’s easy to forget that you’ve already taken a supplement/medication, which can lead to a situation where you accidentally take too much.
  • In addition, write down how supplements affect you and what positive or negative effects you have noticed.
  • Share your notes with your doctor at each appointment.

As with medicines, if you experience side effects when taking a food supplement or vitamin preparation, contact your doctor or pharmacist immediately.

How do I know if I should take supplements in addition to my normal diet?

You should consider taking a food supplement if you know that your diet is not varied, you have a history of a medical condition, or you have had a blood test and are convinced that you have a vitamin or mineral deficiency.

Note: We recommend that you consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking this food supplement.

Can I take a food supplement without consulting a doctor or pharmacist?

Supplements are available in pharmacies, supermarkets, health shops, online e-shops and other channels. The wide choice and easy availability of food supplements has therefore put much of the responsibility for deciding on the intake of food supplements (including vitamins and minerals) on the individual.

In general, it is safe to take food supplements if you are dealing with a trustworthy, well-known and high-quality food supplement manufacturer. However, it should be remembered that it is advisable to consult a doctor, pharmacist or specialist before taking a food supplement, as a food supplement can also cause various side effects or interact (risk of interaction) with a prescription or over-the-counter medicine.

It is particularly important to consult a specialist in the following situations:

  • during pregnancy or breast-feeding;
  • before or after surgery;
  • high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes;
  • giving a food supplement to a child.
What should I do if I experience an adverse reaction/interaction due to a food supplement?

In the event of an adverse reaction or interaction, discontinue use of the food supplement and contact your doctor or pharmacist.

The following online resources have helped us answer your questions and can also help you with further information:

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