The Recommended Dietary Allowance or RDA (sometimes referred to as Recommended Daily Allowance) is defined as “the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (approximately 98 percent) healthy individuals”.
Most physicians (who practice Nutrition) and researchers consider the RDA an overly conservative and antiquated dietary standard. The RDA was designed by the federal government as a guideline for “practically all healthy persons,” but it’s easy to question whether Americans can be considered healthy-
In fact, the very concept of an RDA may be flawed. Forty years ago, Roger Williams, Ph.D., who discovered the B-vitamin pantothenic acid, developed the concept of “biochemical individuality.” Williams contended that people need the same nutrients-but that they are highly individualistic in the amounts they need. For one person, 100 milligrams daily of vitamin C might be sufficient for health; for another, 3,000 milligrams. In other words as we are all so different, so biochemically unique, our nutrient needs differ. As much as 10 fold for different people. And for optimal functioning, most people will need extra nutrients.
What’s a better way to assess a person’s nutritional needs?
Instead of minimum or recommended levels of nutrients, the late Nobel laureate Linus Pauling, Ph.D., emphasized the concept of optimal nutrition-that is, providing the body’s cells with levels of vitamins and minerals that help them function at their best. It is like putting premium gas instead of regular fuel into your body.
Determining your optimal intake requires a little experimentation as everyone is a little different. My experience has shown me that almost everyone in this day and age needs a good multi that has way more than the recommended RDA’s. For example, Pauling often recommended that people take anywhere from 100 to 300 times the RDA level of vitamin C for optimal health. Determining your optimal intake requires a little experimentation-everyone is a little different.
First, you need to set some clear objectives that you want to achieve with supplements. Second, you need to assess whether specific supplements help you feel better.
For example, if you’re in your 20s, eat well, and are in good health, your objective might be “dietary insurance.” You may not need much more than a multivitamin supplement and a little extra vitamin C.
On the other hand, if you’re in your 30s and face a lot of stress at home or at work, “stress management” might be an objective. In this case, you might do well taking a high-potency B-complex supplement. The B-complex has long been considered the anti-stress supplement.
My basic recommendations for supplements to sustain wellness are a good multivitamin with good amounts of the B vitamins, at least 2,000 IU of vit D, a good fish oil and a probiotic.