Thursday, January 21, 2010

This November 2004 report from Consumer Reports (Feb2006, Vol. 71 Issue 2, p19-20) contains a wealth of unbiased, straightforward information about nutritional supplements. Among the topics it addresses are:

  • Who should be using nutritional supplements and why.
  • Why multivitamins may not be enough.
  • Why you should avoid "bargain brand" supplements and buying supplements in "dollar stores".
  • The dangers of "megadose" supplements.
  • Optimal doses and safe upper limits for the 18 most critical nutrients.
  • How to select a supplement that is best for you.
A lot of good information from a reliable source with no dog in the fight.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Minimum vs Optimum

Most people are familiar with the RDA, the Recommended Dietary (Daily) Allowance of various nutrients. Many people assume that an RDA is, well, a recommended allowance for those nutrients. The amount we should be consuming each day. It turns out that this is almost but not quite true.

The RDA were first developed in 1941 to establish minimum nutritional standards for the US military and for civilian populations requiring food relief. The standards were set so as to provide guidance as to the minimum requirements necessary to avoid deficiency diseases such as rickets or scurvy. The RDA became the required US standards for nutrition labeling in 1973 and remained so until 1995, when they were replaced by the Percent Daily Value (%DV). In turn, these were based upon an updated version of the RDA called the Reference Daily Intake. Like the RDA, the RDI set minimum standards for generally healthy people, with a "fudge factor" of about 60% built in.

In 1997 a new standard was introduced called the Dietary Reference Intake. Unlike its predecessors, the DRI goes beyond "minimum" and reflects the amount of various nutrients required by a generally healthy person to maintain optimum health. Twelve years later, for reasons known only to the FDA, Congress and a cohort of food producer lobbyists, nutrition labeling requirements are still based on the older, minimums-based %DV system.

If you find all this confusing, join the club. Perhaps its meant to be confusing. I will leave it to you to determine who might benefit from that. In the meantime, here is a great article on translating nutrition labels into English. Just remember that, for now, it is all based on the minimum you need to avoid a nutritional deficiency diseases. Not on the optimum nutrition you require to be healthy and well.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Reliv's Ongoing Efforts in Haiti

Reliv International already had a pre-earthquake presence in Haiti, feeding some 8,000 Haitians - mostly children - each day through its network of 26 community feeding stations. Thankfully most of these were spared the devastation, although some few still remain unaccounted for. Distributor donations made through the Reliv Kalogris Foundation web site in January will all be directed to aid in the Haiti relief effort. So if you are a distributor, get yourself on board with that.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Food Rules

Journalist and food quality activist Michael Pollan of the University of California at Berkeley discusses his new book "Food Rules: An Eater's Manual" with Jon Stuart of The Daily Show. Some interesting comments on the trade-offs between cheap, abundant food and nutritious food, and on how the requirement to refrain from denying health insurance based on pre-existing conditions may change the business model of health insurers for the better. View the interview here.