Revised RDAs Add a Few Good Nutrients

By Raloff, J. | Science News, October 28, 1989 | Go to article overview

Revised RDAs Add a Few Good Nutrients


Raloff, J., Science News


Revised RDAs add a few good nutrients

The National Research Council issued new guidelines this week for the daily consumption of essential nutrients--the first such revisions in nine years. The updated Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) include "important changes" for several key nutrients, notes Richard J. Havel at the University of California, San Francisco, who chaired the panel that revised the guidelines.

One notable change extends the adolescent RDA for calcium of 1,200 milligrams (mg) to age 25. Previous guidelines initiated the adult RDA of 800 mg at age 19, when individuals reach full adult stature. But data now show that another 5 to 10 percent of one's calcium-rich bone mass gets deposited between ages 19 and 24. Since vulnerability to osteoporosis -- a degenerative bone disease -- depends on bone mass, havel's panel reasoned that a little more calcium early in life could help stave off crippling bone breaks in old age.

Several RDAs decreased -- including those for iron in adolescent and premenopausal women, folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. Havel says threse changes--sometimes a halving or more--reflect new data showing that the body stores more of these nutrients than was previously thought, or that the body needs less to maintain good health.

Though vitamin C's RDA didn't change, the new guidelines recommend smokers increase their intake by two-thirds -- to 100 mg daily -- because data now indiciate those smoking a half pack of cigarettes or more daily use up this vitamin 40 percent more rapidly than nonsmokers. …

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