With the increase in highly processed junk foods that contain little nutritional value, it is no wonder the vitamin supplement industry is booming. When people cannot find the time to eat a healthy diet, they often reach for a vitamin supplement in an attempt to make up for a diet lacking in nutrition.
The earliest strategy for recommending specific amounts of vitamins came during World War II when scientists working for the U.S. Government determined the optimal nutrient levels for a healthy adult body in an attempt to ward off diseases and bolster the health of American troops. The first system for recognizing healthy vitamin levels was called the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA).
There is more than one method for determining the recommended dosage for vitamins and minerals. The old RDA system, now being phased out, did not take children and their nutritional needs into account. The new system, the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI), provides additional information to the consumer about vitamins that reduce specific disorders, including heart disease, various cancers and osteoporosis.
A common system of recommending vitamins based on the latest medical science results in a healthier society. In addition to changes on the labels of foods and supplements, public schools, hospitals and other institutions must comply with the new recommended vitamin dosage in the foods they serve.
Because consumers often mistook the recommended vitamin amount to mean a required amount, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) implemented the new system of recommending nutrition levels. In addition, the RDA, designed to offer maximum benefits to a group of people, was inadequate in determining individual dosage requirements for children or for adults with medical conditions.
The process used to determine the correct DRI for each vitamin uses four factors. The first factor is the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR), which represents the optimal amount of a vitamin for half of the population. The next factor is the RDA numbers, followed by an Adequate Intake (AI) table for persons based on age or medical considerations, and the forth is a Tolerable Upper Intake Level (TUIL) that will warn consumers not to exceed a safe amount.
The potential of instituting a common program of recommendation for vitamins in the daily diet will likely result in overall increased health and lower medical costs.