Nutrition Chart Should You Rely Upon: The RDA, RDI, AI, EAR or DV?
Or, How Much Nutrition Do You Really Need?
by Bill Sardi: The
FDA Escalates Its Long War on Dietary Supplements
It is so strange,
in an era of overly processed foods and refined sugars, nutritionists
continue to maintain the American diet is sufficient to meet the
nutrient needs of Americans. This drivel continues despite the fact
recent studies do not confirm the consumption of fruits and vegetables
significantly reduces mortality rates for heart
disease and cancer,
the number one and two chronic diseases that drive mortality rates.
Even the 9-13 servings of plant foods-regimen now recommended by
health authorities still is an unproven measure.
If you are
totally confused by the array of acronyms RDA (Recommended Daily
Allowance), RDI (Reference Dietary Intake), AI (Adequate Intake),
EAR (Estimated Average Requirement) and DV (Daily Value) used to
inform Americans how much nutrition they need, join the crowd. For
various reasons, all of these should be disregarded, as explained
Diet + Supplements
One of the
problems in reading charts which describe how much of each essential
vitamin and mineral is needed in the diet is that consumers donít
recognize that these numbers represent diet plus supplements. So,
for example, the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for calcium is
1000 milligrams (mg) and the typical American diet provides ~946
mg, so calcium supplements are not needed.
women hear that they need 1200 mg or 1500 mg of calcium to maintain
bone and opt to purchase bone mineral supplements which provide
the entire 1200 mg daily requirement on top of what the diet already
provides. If calcium is being lost from bone due to the loss of
estrogen production in the ovaries, then correction of this problem
lies in replacement of the estrogen, not more calcium. Otherwise,
the more calcium that is consumed in post-menopause the more calcium
that is deposited from bones to arteries. This is why calcium
supplementation has recently been linked with stiffening of arteries
and mortality from coronary heart disease. Frankly, while calcium
is one of the top food supplements sold today next to multivitamins,
fish oil and vitamin C, it may be a nutrient that needs to be axed
from the daily supplement regimen of many Americans. Americans live
in a dairy country and obtain sufficient calcium from the diet.
read the RDA, RDI, etc, charts with knowledge that they represent
what you need from diet plus food supplements. The chart provided
in this article more accurately helps to distinguish the contribution
diet and supplements make towards meeting nutrient needs.
Requirement Charts May Not Apply To You
the nutrition charts donít address is who you are. Letís take a
look at iron in the chart below. The diet provides around 14.7 mg
per day of iron and supplements add, on average, another 3.0 milligrams,
for a total of 17.7 mg of iron from diet plus supplements for the
average American who take supplements. But when data on intake levels
for supplement users alone is singled out, supplement users may
be getting over 36 milligrams of iron per day! That much iron could
be tolerated by a growing child who needs to make millions of new
red blood cells per second, but maybe not for full-grown males who
have no outlet for excess iron and accumulate it in their organs
and tissues. Supplemental iron may be beneficial for menstruating
females who control their iron via their monthly blood flow, but
maybe not post-menopausal females who are in the same situation
as full-grown males. This iron gets stored in compartments in the
body, particularly in the liver where it can cause a fatty
liver condition that affects around 35% of American adults.
Sweden abandoned iron fortification in foods when it realized fatty
liver was an unwanted consequence. Supplement users could be getting
a figurative truck-load of rusty iron and copper and artery-stiffening,
kidney-accumulating calcium. Eugene Weinberg, researcher at University
of Indiana, even goes so far as to suggest iron
fortification in foods should be abandoned.
users commonly overdose?
While the following
chart may make it appear supplement users overload on certain nutrients
Ė that is far from the truth. A primary reason is that the RDA is
only designed to meet the nutrient needs of healthy individuals.
The RDA is supposed to meet the nutrient needs of 98% of the population,
but does it really do that? There are so many millions of Americans
who take nutrient-depleting drugs, who are under physical or emotional
stress that depletes B vitamins, who smoke tobacco that depletes
vitamin C, who have chronic illness (like diabetes) that increases
nutrient demand, who donít go outdoors during midday and receive
sufficient amounts of sunlight to produce vitamin D, who are of
advanced age and donít produce sufficient levels of stomach acid
to properly absorb nutrients, that one wonders if the RDA is even
relevant in todayís society. Itís as if nutrient deficiencies are
being programmed in by intentionally limiting specific nutrients
from the diet.
is not optimal health level
with the RDA is that it is designed to provide the minimum amount
of nutrients needed to avert a deficiency disease, not the optimal
amount for health. And the RDA certainly doesnít apply to growing
children for females during pregnancy who have acute nutrient demands.
RDA is outdated
Also, the RDA
has not kept up with changing dietary practices. Refined sugar consumption
has risen since the 1970s from around 60 pounds per year to over
100 pounds today, with high-fructose corn syrup comprising most
of that rise. Refined
sugars inhibit absorption of vitamin B1 (thiamin), paralyze
white blood cells and feed yeast (Candida albicans) which
overgrows in the
digestive tract which may deplete vitamin C and zinc.
and blood tests are confusing
reigns when a person visits their doctor who may perform blood tests
to determine if nutrient levels are sufficient. But these tests
are often misinterpreted. First, a personís vitamin blood concentrations
may fall within the reference range (the commonly-occurring range),
but that is not necessarily the healthy range. Second, blood levels
may only reflect what a person has recently consumed. Third, does
a high blood level indicate sufficiency or what is being excreted?
A high blood-calcium level in a post-menopausal female does not
indicate calcium adequacy, it indicates calcium is being lost from
bone and excreted. Another example is vitamin B12 where blood levels
may fall within the normal range but provision
of supplemental B12 will often resolve symptoms caused by deficiency.
So why water-down
With all of
this being said, inexplicably the Recommended
Daily Allowance (RDA) may soon be watered down to the Estimated
Average Requirement (EAR) by those nutritionists who feel many
Americans are overdosing on essential nutrients. The EAR is intended
to meet the nutritional needs of 50% of the population. This movement
to reduce nutrients in fortified foods and multivitamin is underway
despite the fact the RDA for vitamin C and vitamin D (signified
by the ▲symbol in the chart below) wonít even significantly
raise blood levels. This is particularly troublesome since vitamin
C is water soluble and washes out rapidly in the urinary flow.
nutritionists have been remiss in factoring for a gene mutation
that occurred many generations ago that halted
the natural enzymatic conversion of blood sugar into vitamin C
which occurs in most animals but not humans. While animals make
vitamin C throughout the day humans must rely upon foods and supplements
for this essential nutrient that builds connective tissue and piques
the immune system. So much for reliance upon charts to determine
Safe Upper Limit
are those nutrition advisers who mistakenly warn the public away
from the upper limit (see chart below). But they forget to add that
this is the entirely-safe upper limit. For example, this
high-ranking web page on Google written by a "medical
consultant" misguidedly warns people away from perfectly
safe doses of nutrients. Actually, the Safe Upper Limit category
is so misunderstood by the public it should be abandoned.
There are no
observable side effects at the Safe Upper Limit dose, which is generally
many times lower than the lowest-observed effects level (LOEL).
And again, this requires interpretation because vitamins and minerals
can be consumed in mega-doses to produce a therapeutic effect. For
example, very high-dose vitamin D (50,000 IU) can be taken safely
over a short-course to
produce antibiotic peptides that kill off invading bacteria,
viruses or even cancer cells. The same is true for mega-dose
vitamin C which can be consumed in high doses to transiently produce
hydrogen peroxide to kill off pathogenic germs or tumor cells.
nutrition to protect DNA?
Now letís add
a zinger to the debate on how much nutrition the human body really
needs. Michael F Fenech, a prolific investigator at the Commonwealth
Scientific and Industrial Research Organization Food and Nutritional
Sciences in Australia, knowing we now live in an era of genomics
(that branch of molecular biology concerned with the structure,
function, evolution, and mapping of human genes), has begun to determine
nutrient intake levels that protect the human library of about 25,000
genes that are packaged inside the nucleus of each living cell in
the human body. Mutations in the DNA ladder that comprise the human
library of genes can lead to disease.
RDA for genomic stability. For example, folic acid (vitamin
B9) is required for DNA repair. How much folate from food or folic
acid from supplements is needed to adequately repair DNA? Research
by Dr. Fenech says about 700 micrograms per day, far beyond what
the best diet could possibly provide. According to Dr. Fenechís
genomic RDA, humans need a lot more vitamin E and vitamin B12 to
protect their genome than the RDA.
what Dr. Fenech proposes, Dr. Bruce Ames, a prolific researcher
at the University of California at Berkeley who has studies nutrients
and DNA repair for decades now, says even
marginal deficiencies of nutrients like folic acid or the trace
mineral selenium can result in gene mutations and pre-disease states.
finding by Dr. Fenech is that mega-doses of three B vitamins, riboflavin
(vitamin B2), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) and biotin may be destructive
to DNA. Accompanying antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin C, E and
selenium may blunt some of the potential problems posed by overdose
of these vitamins, but it is still a cause for concern given the
paltry amount of these antioxidants in many multivitamins.
RDA, EAR, AI, and DV are confusing, outdated and only mislead. They
should be ignored. They serve to perpetuate nutrient deficiencies
and even nutrient overload in the population at large. These flawed
nutrient reference standards ensure a certain level of nutrient-related
disease in the population at large because food fortification and
dietary supplement regimens are designed around them. Greater attention
should be given to research that addresses the amount of nutrients
required to maintain DNA stability in aging populations.
NE = not established.
No intake level has been established even though these nutrients
are essential for human health.
H Ė Recommended
intake levels for nutrients are established for healthy individuals
only and are not applicable to growing children, females in pregnancy,
diabetics, smokers, the hospitalized, the medicated, individuals
with chronic disease or infection or people living under chronic
stress. Recommended intake levels address the minimum amount necessary
to avoid frank deficiency, not intake level for optimal health.
will not significantly raise blood concentrations
* Ė Nutrients
for which blood tests are notoriously inaccurate
** Ė Side effect
level may in fact be therapeutic level (example: high-dose vitamin
C generated hydrogen peroxide that can kill germs and cancer cells.
Mega-dose vitamin D generates antibiotic peptides that attack germs
and cancer cells.
x - Minerals
that accumulate in full-grown males and post-menopausal females
which may not be appropriate in those age groups.
☼ - The
main source of vitamin D is skin exposure to mid-day unfiltered
- Genotoxic: can potentially cause gene mutations at typical dietary
and supplement intake levels
Nutrition 2011 Mar; 27(3):293-7. PMID: 20688476 (Young males)
Research 2001 Apr 18;475(1-2):57-67 PMID:11295154
What we eat in America,
NHANES 2007-08 www.ars.usda.gov/ba/bhnrc/fsrg
J Clinical Nutrition. 2006 Jun; 83 (6 Supplement):1483S-1493S PMID:
Safe Levels of Intake for Adults: Vitamins and Minerals, University
Nebraska, Accessed online Sept 7, 2011.
A: National Academy of Sciences, accessed Sept 7, 2011
him mail] is a frequent writer on health and political
topics. His health writings can be found at www.naturalhealthlibrarian.com.
latest book is Downsizing
© 2011 Bill Sardi Word of Knowledge Agency, San Dimas, California.
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