RDA and RDI for Vitamins, minerals and nutrients.



What is an RDA and is it really important?

An RDA is a recommended daily allowance - but the answer is not as simple as that!

As most of us know by now, an unhealthy diet and physical inactivity are two of the main risk factors for all kinds of diseases: raised blood pressure, for example, and obesity, as well as the major chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.

The fact is that nutrition is a foundation for health and development.

Better nutrition means stronger immune systems, less illness and improved health. Our children learn more easily when they are correctly fed, and healthy people are stronger, more productive and better able to create opportunities for themselves.

What is good nutrition

But what does “good nutrition” really mean? Actually, we can define it as a diet that contains an adequate supply of essential nutrients: the elements required for normal body functioning that can’t be made by the body itself. Categories of these include vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids.

The full range of vitamin and mineral requirements comprises 19 micronutrients in all, including vitamins A, C, D, E, and K, plus the B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium and iodine. An absence of any of these leads to the development of deficiency diseases.

How do we know how much of these nutrients are “adequate” to keep us healthy?

That’s where Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), or Reference Daily Intake (RDI) comes in.

These are the daily dietary intake levels recommended by the governments of most countries. They’re printed on food labels and supplements, and are used for developing new foods. Basically, they’re intended to serve as nutrition guidance to the public and health professionals.

The problem with RDA and RDI's.

There’s just one problem with this - and it’s a big one.

The RDAs that everybody uses may not be accurate! You see, they were developed during World War Two by the U.S. National Research Council, and used for dietary recommendations for people on rations.

They were invented to help prevent outbreaks of rickets, scurvy and pellagra. Clearly, our dietary habits and the kinds of diseases we get are now very different.

The RDA standard has since been taken up by countries the world over, and now accounts for the minimum levels of nutrients needed for normal growth and development.

But although RDAs are revised from time to time, they still only suggest the minimum nutrient requirements, for nearly all (97–98%) healthy individuals.

But of course, we’re all different!

Some people (older people, pregnant women, those with illnesses, you name it) need different amounts of nutrients. In addition, the type of food we eat has changed dramatically recently, populations are ageing, and people with sedentary lifestyles are now commonplace.

RDAs don’t really account for all this.

Confused by RDA's?

Most doctors still maintain that you can obtain all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need from a normal healthy diet.

It would be good if this was the case but because of the degradation of the food supply it has become almost impossible to achieve a diet for optimal health and the prevention of degenerative disease.

One of the greatest reasons for confusion amongst doctors and physicians and therefore the general population is the reliance on RDA's.

The problem is really that somehow RDA’s have become a guide for optimal nutrition which is not what they were designed to do.

Optimal nutrition is the level of nutrition required to prevent chronic degenerative diseases such as arthritis, Cancer, Alzheimer’s, Osteoporosis, Diabetes and heart disease.

New nutritional guidelines being suggested by the few scientists and doctors that specialize in nutrition are describing levels of nutrients far higher than RDA’s for the maintenance of long term health and the prevention of chronic degenerative disease.

Changing RDA's

The U.S. government continually reviews new research on required nutrient intakes – but this is a vast and never-ending task, and the results are always controversial. There are surprisingly few data on which to draw conclusions, and as a result, its recommendations are based largely on interpretation.

If you look, you’ll see the RDAs for different countries at different times vary dramatically.

For example, some countries have lower RDAs than others, because they’re calculated based on the needs of a single cell, and not those of the whole body. Nowadays, governments are beginning to revise their RDA levels upwards.

They’re still not high enough, according to many experts, and there’s growing evidence to suggest that we can benefit from increasing our nutrient intake well above RDA levels in some instances.

Cause of degenerative diseases?

In fact, for vitamins and minerals, there’s enough new evidence to justify updating our RDA levels immediately, or taking a higher level of nutrients than is recommended by the RDA.

It shows that besides preventing deficiency diseases, higher levels of nutrients could play an important role in preventing chronic degenerative diseases, one of modern society’s major causes of illness and death.

RDA calculations currently don’t account for these. Evidence is also mounting on the importance of increasing micronutrients for better immune function, physical work capacity, and brain development, especially in children.

Two challenges; doctors attitudes and degraded food

As stated in a previous section it is unfortunate that doctors are trained to believe RDAs are the levels of nutrients needed for optimal health. In addition doctors generally have a bias against nutritional supplements. This causes a great deal of confusion.

Actually, the levels of nutrients needed for optimal health are greater than RDA levels, as a host of modern medical reports will tell you. The problem’s compounded because many multivitamin products are poor quality based on RDAs and not on the correct levels of nutrients needed for optimal health.

Even worse, nowadays, there’s probably no way to get the optimal levels through food alone. That’s because it now contains less nutrients than it ever did before, thanks to over-processing, long storage periods and modern growing methods. Plus, the soil we use to grow our fruit and vegetables has degraded, and our food is often full of chemicals.

Luckily, there is a solution. Modern science has provided us with supplements to help us out of the problem!

So now, there’s no excuse for suffering needlessly in the future, as a result of inadequate nutritional intake now. With the right high quality nutritional supplements you can increase your chances of avoiding diseases and chronic ailments easily and effectively, so act today – and reap the benefits later!

References on this page:

(Click on numers to go to reference page)

4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11

For more information on this topic contact us