Recommended daily intakes are guidelines for the amount of nutrients that should be included in the diet every day. Standards differ slightly between countries, but the concept is broadly universal. However, the number of calories recommended, or the energy requirement, is a guideline based on averages, and some individuals have very different requirements.
Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) levels, which are established by the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences, are notoriously low. Scientists have determined that entire populations, such as the elderly, require as much as 200 times the RDA of some nutrients.
Clinical studies suggest that all age groups require much larger dosages of nutrients than the set RDA. A 2007 study at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute concluded that there was ample evidence to suggest that many people have chronically low levels of vitamin D; enough to negatively impact brain development and function. In addition to causing brain dysfunction, vitamin D deficiency can contribute to bone loss and neurodegenerative diseases.
In many instances these low doses of nutrients can have serious health consequences. For example, the RDA levels established for vitamin C may be unable to reduce lipid peroxidation. Lipid peroxidation refers to the oxidative degradation of lipids. It is the process whereby free radicals “steal” electrons from the lipids in cell membranes, resulting in cell damage.
Because the RDA levels of some nutrients are significantly lower than what research suggests, having a blood panels to check nutrients levels would be advisable for anyone experiencing health problems. Testing is the only accurate way to know if a nutrient deficiency is present and exactly how much supplementation is needed.