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 Nutritional Medicine: Dietary Allowances 
Recommended Dietary Allowances
The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) are designed to prevent deficiency diseases in most healthy people. But deficiency diseases such as scurvy and beriberi are not the problems of the civilized world. These are the RDAs, as set forth by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council.
Vitamin A (& beta-carotene)*		5000/4000	IU
Vitamin C				60		mg
Vitamin D				200		IU
Vitamin E*				15/12		IU
Vitamin K*				80/60		mcg
Thiamin (B1)*				1.5/1.1		mg
Riboflavin (B2)*			1.7/1.3		mg
Niacin (& niacinamide; B3)*		19/15 		mg
Pyridoxine (B6)*			2.0/1.6		mg
Folate (folic acid)*			0.2/0.18 	mg
Cobalamin (B12)				2		mcg
Biotin*					0.3		mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)*			4/7		mg
Calcium					800		mg
Iron*					10/15		mg
Phosphorus				800		mg
Iodine					150		mcg
Magnesium*				350/280		mg
Zinc					15		mg
Copper					1.5-3		mg
Sodium					500		mg
Potassium				2000		mg
Selenium*				70/55		mcg

*Second value is for women.

Daily Values
On food and supplement labels, you will see nutrients listed as "Percent Daily Value," or the relative amount of that nutrient in a portion of food, compared to another standard of dietary needs. This "DV" amount is different from the RDA.

Vitamin A (& beta-carotene)			5000	IU
Vitamin C					60	mg
Vitamin D					400	IU
Vitamin E					30	IU
Thiamin (B1)					1.5	mg
Riboflavin (B2)					1.7	mg
Niacin (& niacinamide; B3)			20	mg
Pyridoxine (B6)					2.0	mg
Folate (folic acid)				0.4	mg
Cobalamin (B12)					6.0	mcg
Biotin						0.3	mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)				10	mg
Calcium						1000	mg
Iron						18	mg
Phosphorus					1000	mg
Iodine						150	mcg
Magnesium					400	mcg
Zinc						15	mg
Copper						2	mg
Sodium						2500	mg
Potassium					4000	mg

There are no Daily Values for other nutrients, such as vitamin K, manganese, selenium and chromium, but this does not mean they are unimportant.

Healthy Dietary Allowances
My own recommendations of minimums for basic health are clearly different from the RDA levels and the Daily Values. They reflect both food sources and extra nutrients derived from dietary supplements.

For basic preventive medicine, free-radical protection, and health enhancement I recommend:

Vitamin A (& beta-carotene)			25,000	IU
Vitamin C					4,000	mg
Vitamin D					400	IU
Vitamin E					400	IU
Thiamin (B1)					100	mg
Riboflavin (B2)					50	mg
Niacin (& niacinamide; B3)			150	mg
Pyridoxine (B6)					100	mg
Folate (folic acid)				5,000	mcg
Cobalamin (B12)					100	mcg
Biotin						0.3	mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)				100	mg
Calcium						500	mg
Iron						18	mg
Phosphorus					1,000	mg
Iodine						150	mcg
Magnesium					500	mg
Zinc						30	mg
Copper						3	mg
Sodium						1,000	mg
Potassium					4,000	mg

Notice that my recommended level for sodium is lower than the DV. It is more a reflection of need than the DV, since excess sodium is unhealthy. The DV is based, in part, on what people are actually getting from food, rather than what is ideal for health. Since consumption of salt is usually so high (5000-13,000 mg daily!), the DV is actually above what you really need.

My recommendation for calcium is also lower than the RDA. This is predicated on your eating a healthier diet than the one common in the United States and many other industrialized countries. If you eat too much protein (especially animal protein), caffeine, sugar, salt, and sodas, then you will very likely need more calcium. You may also need more calcium if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, although more dietary calcium is no substitute for weight-bearing exercise, such as walking or jogging, if maintaining bone density is one of your goals. If you have adequate mag-nesium nutrition, it is probably quite safe to take extra calcium.

Older standards suggested getting twice as much calcium as magnesium. This was based on the ratio of the two minerals in the blood, and does not necessarily reflect dietary needs. Variations in absorption, utilization, and the physiology of the two minerals make the blood levels unreliable figures for determining dietary needs.

Magnesium deficiencies are quite common, marginal deficiencies are difficult to detect, and long-term consequences of low magnesium intake are quite serious. They include neurologic, heart and kidney diseases. For these reasons I recommend at least as much magnesium as calcium. High calcium intake also increases the need for magnesium.

A healthy diet naturally contains a lot of potassium. However, people taking certain diuretics or those eating a large amount of salt may need potassium supplements.

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 About The Author
Michael Janson MDMichael Janson, M.D., is past-president of the American College for Advancement in Medicine and the American Preventive Medical Association. He founded one of the first holistic medical practices in New England......more
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