The National Academy of Sciences proposed in 1941 that a guideline of minimum recommended daily dietary allowances be established for the express purpose of reducing the occurrence of diseases of malnutrition. These diseases of malnutrition include scurvy (caused by deficient levels of vitamin C), pellagra (caused by deficient levels of niacin), and beri- beri (caused by deficient levels of vitamin B-1). The RDA guidelines fell under sharp criticism within ten years of their publication because they were based on brief studies of approximately nine months and established only nutrient level minimums.
Maintaining one’s health over the course of a lifetime likely requires the intake of daily nutrients at varying levels relating to conditions such as illness, habit, and stage of life. It is estimated that at least
one chronic disease such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes or a degenerative disease of the bone or eye, will afflict 80% of the American population over the age of sixty. This wide-spread
suffering of chronic disease in the aging may be evidence that the RDAs do not provide the levels of nutrients needed to maintain high quality health over a lifetime. In fact, the RDA guidelines are likened by the researchers to minimum wage rates since they barely sustain life let alone contribute in any meaningful way to improving life quality.
In addition to being established only as nutrient minimums, the RDAs fail to take into consideration the impact of lifestyle. Several studies have shown that behaviors such as regular consumption of alcohol, following special diets, and habitual smoking will lower blood levels of various nutrients. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) stated in their own findings that the RDAs “vary greatly in disease” implying that there are circumstances of living that can and do influence and change RDA requirements.
To gain a better perspective of the inadequacy of the standards, consider the work of two doctors at the University of Alabama School of Medicine cited in the Nutrient Digest; Emanuel Cheraskin and W.M. Ringsdorf, Jr. Given the narrow scope of the RDA guidelines, they attempted to ascertain the actual ideal daily consumption levels for nutrients, carbohydrates, protein and fat that healthy people consume daily and thereby thrive. Cheraskin and Ringsdorf, Jr. hypothesized that people who are more”symptom and sign-free of suffering” are healthier than people who present clinical symptoms and show signs of disease.
The Cheraskin and Ringsdorf, Jr. study consistently indicated that the healthiest people were those who had taken supplements and who had eaten a nutrient- rich diet in relation to the number of calories they ate. By comparing the daily intake levels of vitamins in the healthiest subjects, researchers calculated the mean or average amount of each vitamin consumed. Using these calculations, Alex Schauss, Ph.D. developed the Suggested Optimal Nutrient Allowances (SONA).
The SONA guidelines do not offer specific claims about nutrient abilities. They simply reflect what nutrient levels were consumed daily by healthy participants in the study and thus suggest that a diet including these nutrient levels each day is part of a healthy lifestyle. For example, the healthiest people in the study consumed approximately 410 mg of vitamin C each day. Analyzing the study data by age and gender determined SONA recommendations of 400mg of vitamin C for men and women aged 25-50, and 800- 1000mg of vitamin C for men and women aged 51 and older. By contrasting these amounts to the RDA’s recommendation of 60mg of vitamin C daily, it becomes clear that the RDA guidelines could only have been interpreted as the bare minimums.
The chart below shows a dramatic contrast between RDA and SONA measurements for daily nutrient intake. The USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference was used to create the
It specifies how much of a particular food a person would have to eat each day to obtain the RDA versus the SONA measurements for those nutrients. You will see that in fact, it is much more difficult to achieve optimal nutrition without supplementation.
RDA versus SONA Food Amts:
• Vitamin A: RDA 700-900mcg, SONA 2000mcg (1 medium carrot vs. 4 carrots)
• Beta Carotene: RDA None Established, SONA 80- 100mg (8 cups cooked spinach)
• Vitamin C: RDA 75-90mg Smokers Add 35mg, SONA 800-1000mg (1-8oz cup OJ vs. 11 cups)
• Vitamin E : RDA 15mg, SONA 800mg (1oz. roasted almonds vs. 7 lbs. of almonds)
• Selenium: RDA 55mcg, SONA 200-250mcg (3 oz. canned tuna vs. 1 lb of canned tuna)
• Folic Acid: RDA 400mcg, SONA 2000mcg (“eat green vegs.” vs. 12 cups of broccoli)
• Niacin: RDA 14mg-16mg, SONA 25-30mg (6 med. baked potatoes vs. 12 baked potatoes)
• Lycopene: RDA None Established, SONA Not Found (10 cherry tomatoes = 4mg)
• Iron: RDA 8-18mg, SONA 20mg (“eat red meat” vs. 2 lbs. cooked burger)
• Zinc: RDA 8-11mg, SONA 17-20mg (“eat poultry” vs. 11 chicken breasts)
Excerpted from article published in Natural News, written by Carol L. Ohnesorge, who holds a Masters Degree in Counseling and Psychology with an emphasis in Holism.