Don’t I just need to go by the RDA?

Ask many people about vitamins supplements and they’ll tell you that they get everything they need from the food they eat.  “Besides” they’ll tell you – “I get the RDA (recommended daily allowance of everything I need.”  The unfortunate fact is that you probably don’t get everything you need just from the foods you eat (see Do you need supplements).naturevalley

It’s helpful to start by asking – What is the RDA?  If you’ve looked at the side or back of most packaged food products you’ve seen a label similar to this one:

If you’ve wondered what the RDA is or where it came from – here’s the background, and here’s why it’s probably not a good measure of what your nutrient needs are for optimum nutrition and health.

The RDA is based upon calculations made in 1941 during World War 2.    The RDA was calculated based upon Estimated Average Requirements (EAR) which were the levels estimate in order to meet the basic nutritional needs of 50% of the people  (keep in mind that this was an across-the-board calculation for soldiers, citizens, and people facing food rationing).  While the levels and amounts are reviewed every 10 years or so, even these are designed to meet an average requirement in order to avoid the diseases of deficiency, and to provide basic nutritional needs (not what I would call optimal health).

So what does all this mean to you if you’re seeking to live a healthy lifestyle?

  1. Understand and be in touch with your body and your specific needs
  2. Do your research on what are considered levels for optimum nutrition.
    One excellent source for this is Life Extension Foundation.  Their stated mission is “to help you stay younger and healthier longer … looking for new and better ways to prolong youth, health, life.”  That sounds pretty good to me – most people are interested in staying healthier longer and being able to prolong health – I know I am.
  3. Adjust your lifestyle and diet accordingly.  As I’ve pointed out many times, you should focus on a healthy diet that supports a healthy lifestyle – not on going on a diet.  Remember – diets don’t work.
  4. Add the right foods and supplements to your diet to ensure that you are setting yourself up for optimum health, not just avoiding the diseases that come from nutrient deficiency.

If you are only going by the RDA printed on your processed food packages, I think you are doing yourself a great disservice and not setting yourself up for optimum health.  Remember – these calculations which formed a basis for all this were done during a time of scarcity and in order to avoid nutritional deficiency diseases for an average person with average needs.

In future posts we’ll review so of the specific vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements I believe you should consider adding to your diet to preserve, protect and prolong your health,

 

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