Health Supreme by Sepp Hasslberger

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August 30, 2008

From Avoiding Deficiency to Optimal Health - RDA Focus 'Must Change'

Nutrition is of course what happens when we eat, but there is a very scientific side to nutrition that counts infinitesimal quantities of certain vital substances. Without these vital 'vitamins' and minerals we just can't survive. Our bodies fall ill and refuse to function. Those are serious deficiency diseases like scurvy, a sure killer that comes after weeks and months of little or no vitamin C.


Nothing like an orange just from the tree - Image: Sepp

The quantities of nutrients that allow us to avoid deficiency diseases are called the RDA - recommended dietary allowances and, more recently, RDI or reference daily intakes.

Much research however has shown that RDAs cannot protect against the slow onset of degenerative diseases which have become major killers in our Western societies. It would seem, therefore, that lawmaking should put less emphasis on RDAs and more on a measure of optimal health by nutrition.

Two Dutch scientists, Dr Jaap Hanekamp and Prof Aalt Bast have published an article where they argue for a change in focus of the RDA from avoiding known and certain deficiencies to actually providing the optimal amounts of nutrients for good health.

Wish the European Commission and national health authorities would pay attention.

Here are some excerpts and a link to the article in full.

- - -

New recommended daily allowances: benchmarking healthy European micronutrient regulation
Let governments take care of safety and industry of health

by Dr Jaap C Hanekamp and Professor Dr Aalt Bast

It has become increasingly clear that the RDAs that have been used for many decades are too limited in their approach to micronutrients, partly because they are reserved only for those vitamins and minerals which cause the well-defined deficiency diseases. By definition, other (food-endogenous) substances that seem to have health-enhancing properties, yet lack a well-defined deficiency profile, cannot have an RDA set, and will therefore, as far as regulation is concerned, be primarily approached from a safety (toxicological) point of view. This is the result of applying the principle of a 'high level of consumer protection' expounded in the Food Supplements Directive (FSD) and many other regulatory documents. If the safety of those other substances cannot be guaranteed, then these substances cannot be added to the positive lists of compounds allowed on the European market. Indeed, the FSD in the preamble (3), states: 'An adequate and varied diet could, under normal circumstances, provide all necessary nutrients for normal development and maintenance of a healthy life in quantities which meet those established and recommended by generally acceptable scientific data ...'.

. . .

However, the maximising health attributes, which nowadays are rarely a matter of preventing acute deficiency diseases, seem to lie in the field of long-term benefits, such as reduced incidence of cancer, cardiovascular and inflammatory conditions, and the deceleration of premature aging. RDAs, however, do not define an optimal level of any nutrient, as they are focused on deficiency-disease prevention. They are designed to meet the needs of healthy people and do not take into account special needs arising from infections, metabolic disorders, impaired uptake, or chronic disease.

. . .

Scientific discoveries in the field of micronutrients will in the short- and long-term add considerably to innovation in the fields of food supplements, food fortification and conventional foods. It is quite likely that in future the effects of micronutrients on reducing the risk of disease will increasingly be used to establish novel nutrient requirements.

I recommend you read the whole paper. There are many pertinent arguments for the change of focus for RDAs.


posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Saturday August 30 2008

URL of this article:


Related Articles

South Africa breaks ranks at Codex Nutrition Committee
The discussions around a proposed guideline for food supplements by the Committee for Nutrition and special dietary foods of the international standard setting body called Codex Alimentarius, have taken a most interesting turn this year. Population reference intakes (RDAs) were abandoned as a measure for determining upper level dosages of vitamins and minerals in supplements, substituted by scientific risk analysis as the method of choice for assuring protection of... [read more]
November 06, 2003 - Sepp Hasslberger

Food Supplements: German Risk Institute Takes Dim View
The German Federal Institute for Risk Evaluation, formerly the Federal Office for Consumer Health Protection, has established a risk assessment model for deducing maximum safe levels of nutrients provided in supplements and fortified foods, according to a recent report of The report was published in two parts, one dealing with minerals, the other with vitamins, both available in PDF format - so far only in German language (Minerals here)... [read more]
January 20, 2005 - Sepp Hasslberger

European Health Legislation, Codex And The Sustainability Of Health Care
Brussels has been busy "adjusting" EU food and medicine laws for several years now, bringing increasingly onerous controls for natural products - notably herbs and food supplements. Some observers have criticized these moves as designed to give an unfair advantage to "conventional", pharma-based medicine and will cut across preventive health strategies. Prevention is high on the agenda, but official strategies are largely limited to avoiding and killing off germs. Nutritional... [read more]
April 20, 2005 - Sepp Hasslberger

Risk Free Vitamins - How Safe is Safe Enough?
Recent legislative proposals on at least three continents have centered around the perceived need to ensure the safety of natural health products, such as supplements containing vitamins and minerals. Canada has proposed drug-style regulations for supplements. In the US, a proposal termed S 722 seeks to increase the FDA's powers to remove supplements from circulation. Australia recalled 1600 diverse health products in an unprecedented prelude to - what else -... [read more]
February 03, 2004 - Sepp Hasslberger

Researchers: Vitamin C Deficiency Widespread - Link to Heart Disease, Infections, Cancer
In their book "Ascorbate - The Science of Vitamin C", Steve Hickey PhD and Hilary Roberts PhD point out that deficiency of vitamin C is far more widespread than is generally acknowledged by medical doctors and dieticians today. The two scientists, specialized in medical biophysics and nutrition, have challenged the scientific basis of the recommended daily amounts for this vitamin with medical authorities including the NIH - the National Institutes... [read more]
July 09, 2004 - Sepp Hasslberger




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