Eating The RDA Way

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How many people believe that the Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamins and minerals is the best guide to human health?  Please raise your hand ... Many of the people who walk through my door pride themselves on reading ingredient labels, taking the recommended amount of Calcium in their daily supplements and don't understand why they don't feel well. 

The answer is often simply in the misconceptions surrounding RDAs.  The Recommended Dietary Allowance was first established during World War II from a committee established to investigate how nutrition might affect national defense.  It was created as the least amount of each nutrient that was needed for food relief for civilians and military personnel.  It was what determined many of the specifics of food rationing and looked at the national food supply vs. the number of portions needed for the population and the military. 

This was revised periodically through 1989, but food labels were not included in any revisions since 1968.  This continued until 2016 at which point the FDA finally updated the its own outdated policies and regulations, which allowed more current scientific information to influence the RDAs.  As of this moment, those changes have not come into force.  Large food companies were given until 2020 and small food companies until 2021 to update their food labels.  So at this moment food labels are only voluntarily updated and many are still based on the 1968 RDAs.

Even with the new guidelines if and when they ever come into force, the RDA is only a measure of the least amount needed for survival.  It is not a guide to optimal health.  The truth is each person has varying requirements nutritionally.  What if someone is taking a prescription drug?  Many pharmaceutical drugs can cause an increase in the use of certain nutrients such as potassium (when taking a diuretic) or folic acid (depleted during chemotherapy).  It is becoming a well-established fact that taking antibiotics for any length of time alters the natural gut flora, reducing immunity, bowel stability and even pH in nearby tissues such as the vaginal tract. 

Most drugs work through the process of inhibition which is essential for crisis management. But in the long term, this can cause a restriction of normal body function, thus suppressing the long-term health of the body.  By recognizing an increased need for essential nutrients, it permits longer-term use of an essential pharmaceutical and can reduce the side-effects that can last long after the drug is finished.

The point is that basing your optimal nutritional intake each day on the minimum needed for a soldier to survive battle and food rationing will never give you the health you need. 

Karen Clickner