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RDA And Dietary Supplements: What Doses Are Needed For Optimal Health?

In this Article:
RDA & Dietary Supplements: What doses are needed for Optimal Health? 1

What Is RDA And What Does It Miss?

According to the Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing, Recommended Daily Allowance or RDA is “the average daily intake of a nutrient judged sufficient to meet the requirements of most healthy people, categorized by gender and age.”

So the RDA is based on the assumption that you and I are in generally good health and have access to a wide range of foods in our diet.

What the RDA often misses is the sad nutrient-depleted state of our society today.

Soil quality is often poor, thanks to extensive use of fertilizers and chemicals. This means crops no longer have the minerals and vitamins at the levels they once did. Our increased consumption of highly processed foods, our sedentary lifestyle choices, side effects of prescription medications and high concentrations of stress – all work against us.

Fatal Flaw Of RDAs: Key Goal Is Only to Avoid Deficiency Diseases

Beyond all the above, RDA standards were created with the aim of preventing deficiencies that would lead to certain serious health conditions. For example, Vitamin D deficiency is determined when a vitamin D metabolite falls below 12 ng/mL in a blood sample. A person may show symptoms of the disease called Rickets in children or osteomalacia in adults. The latter involves serious softening of bones and severe joint pains.

So the RDA was determined by asking the question: “How much vitamin D should a person receive daily to prevent the development of Rickets and Osteomalacia?” In this case, the level determined was 12 ng/mL. If an individual had a vitamin D level of say, 16 ng/mL, they would not be diagnosed as “deficient in vitamin D” by a practitioner, and therefore, not prescribed a vitamin D supplement or asked to bask in the sun.

Experts, however, believe that optimal levels of this key vitamin run a lot higher, say between 30 and 50 ng/mL. They say that Vitamin D levels below 30 ng/mL are insufficient because, at these levels, the vitamin is unable to do its job of promoting health and preventing several chronic diseases from developing.

RDA does not take into account nutrient insufficiencies – levels at which the nutrient is not fully deficient, but it is still unable to do any health-promoting tasks.

This is often not a fixed number but an evolving target, based on what ongoing fresh research reveals.

How Often Is RDA Revised?

Changes to RDA include new levels for iron and protein as referred to in 2001. A more recent change is the recommended daily value for vitamin D, changed in 2010. The new adequate blood level for vitamin D has been raised to 20 ng/mL from 12 ng/mL. Revisions do not happen quickly as substantial research and agreement must occur first within the medical establishment to form an acceptable new level for RDAs.

So you need to be your own best health advocate and work with your healthcare provider to determine what will work best for you.

Lisa DiFalco

Lisa DiFalco

Senior Health Writer
Lisa is a New York state licensed massage therapist who uses a whole-body approach to help her clients achieve good health and wellness through proper nutrition and exercise. She has worked alongside chiropractors in delivering wellness care to patients.

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Medical And General Disclaimer for
This article is intended for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. strongly recommends that you consult a medical practitioner for implementing any of the above. Results may vary from person to person.

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