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The Problem With Current RDA Recommendations

In order to achieve “health and wellbeing” the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) formulated over 40 years ago what is referred to as the RDA (recommended daily allowance) or RDI (recommended daily intake), which provides a daily dosage or recommended intake of particular vitamins, minerals, or optional supplements (such as amino acids and essential fatty acids) that are considered sufficient to protect the body against diseases caused by a deficiency. What they do not provide are the amounts required to maintain optimal health. By providing our bodies with an optimum daily amount of necessary nutrients we can enhance our health, but this must be based on individual requirements. The Greek physician Hippocrates (460–377 BC) said, “The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food.” Our food, therefore, should be the basis of our wellness program.

By definition, the RDA/RDI recommendations apply to only 98 percent of healthy individuals and are not sufficient for those with higher nutrient requirements. The following have a dramatic effect on the quantity of the nutrients individuals might require for optimal health:
  • A person’s age, genetic variations, biochemical individuality, and the environment in which they live
  • The diet they consume and their health status
  • Lifestyle choices and levels of stress
  • The anti-nutrients they are exposed to, such as pollutants and toxins
  • Medications, all of which increase the demand for specific nutrients and cause a reduction in the availability of nutrients to perform functions in the body
  • Their levels of sleep
Optimal health can be briefly described as an absence of ill health, plus maximum performance and longevity—a complete individual wellness package.

RDA/RDI/ values are therefore guidelines that are not specific, or indeed accurate, for any individual. Many factors affect nutritional requirements for each individual. With that in mind, a more specific individualized approach must be adopted through the identification of known deficiency symptoms and conditions if a person is to achieve optimal health.

  1. Seatharam, A. (1982). Absorption and transport of cobalamin (B12). Annual Review of Nutrition.
  2. Groff, J.L, Grapper, S.S. (2000). Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism.
  3. Warbach M.R. (1983). Nutritional Influences on Illness.