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The Final(?) Word on Nutrition
Phytochemicals, RDA and Other Nutrients

Have you ever wondered what the RDA actually meant? What are the deficiency signs? What are phytochemicals? Referring to different sources, most of yoru answers are here with a resounding endorsement for taking supplements.

Gregory James Sharp

The field of nutrition has always been full of murky knowledge and information. So many things sound good and turn out to be false. Many people want to believe something so they fail to check if it is true. A single benefit gets promoted and all the negatives get neglected. Many times the beneficial item is processed so that all of its nutritional quality is destroyed and sometimes we are outright lied to.

Sounds pretty grim, doesn't it? I have had to read many books, magazines and research articles to find the truth, and then it is only as good as the study designed to test the nutrient. Very few studies in the health field are unbiased when it comes to pharmaceuticals, potions and pills which can be sold for money. Frequently studies are funded to prove a specific premise and not to truly test the efficacy of the nutrient so it is best to be skeptical. However, there is a grain of truth to all stories and studies and I an open mind may provide you with the right information. At the end it is only your health and your opinion which matter - you are the final decision maker.

The RDA was originally developed based on the current health at the time. The underlying premise was that the American diet was healthy. Therefore, the average American diet was analyzed for its nutrient content and the average intakes for the critical nutrients (which were known at that time) were measured and set as the norms for "health". These standards were set on the basis that disease was not present. This does not mean that they represent the nutrient levels required for optimal health.

Snce that time the nutrition field has gone through massive changes. One change which is most interesting is that the requirement for protein in the diet has been nearly cut in half over the years and as of 1997 is presently set at 0.65 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (roughly, if you divide your weight in pounds by three you will get a slight overestimate of your protein requirement in grams) which is much closer to that set by the World Health Organization (WHO) at 0.60 g/kg. These changes are very confusing because many articles are written using the standards of the day and, as those standards change, the research based on those standards may be compromised.

This table represents information which has been published within the last few years, though some of the information cites sources as far back as 1989. View this information as a starting point. As time goes on this will be updated as necessary. If you find out more recent information and want to submit the new data with cited reference, this page on the internet will be updated. This information came from "The Healthy Cell News", Spring/Summer 1997, 800-624-7114; Delicious! Annual Guide, 1997; The Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals, Health Media of America and Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.., HarperPerennial, copyright 1992, 210-207-7528; information from the AFPA trainers handbook, afpa@afpafitness.com http://www.afpafitness.com/ Phone: (609)978-7583 FAX: (609)978-7582.

Nutrient RDA or DV Optimal DV Nutritional Function Pro-Active with Deficiency Signs
Vitamin A,
Preferred form: Beta Carotene
800-1000 IU, Toxicity at 50,000 IU
Provitamin A, No RDA
5,000-10,000 IU

10,000-25,000 IU

Antioxidant, eyes, mucous membranes; gums, skin, bone and hair growth; resistance to infections Choline, C, D, E, F, Zinc & B-complex Night blindness, dry skin & hair, susceptability to infections, allergies, fatigue, migraines
B1, Thiamine 1.1 - 1.5 mg 10 - 60 mg Brain, nervous system, circulation, learning Folic Acid, B5, B-Complex, C Fatigue, digestive problems, irritable, nervous, depression
B2, Riboflavin 1.3 - 1.7 mg 10 - 60 mg Oxygenation of cells, growth, hair, skin, eyes, antibody & cell formation B-Complex, B6, C, Niacin Skin disorders, vision & growth problems, indigestion, baldness
B3, Niacin 15 - 19 mg 20 - 500 mg Nervous & digestive systems, adrenal galnds, circulation, metabolism (sugar) B-Complex, C Nervousness, poor circulation (leg cramps, cold extremities), fatigue, headaches, bad breath, high blood pressure
B5, Pantothenic Acid 4 - 7 mg 40 - 100 mg Stress, food metabolism & digestion, steroid hormone synthesis, cell formation B-Complex, C Stress/irritability, allergies, arthritis, digestive disorders, gray hair & hair loss, hypoglycemia, premature aging
B6, Pryidoxine 1.6 - 2.0 mg
May be toxic above 500 mg
10 - 60 mg Nerves, muscles, skin, antibody & blood cell formation, co-enzyme in amino acid & fatty acid metabolism B-Complex, C, Potassium Stress, depression, insomnia, irritability, weight problems, clogging of arteries, hypoglycemia
B12, Cobalamin 2 mcg 20 - 100 mcg Nervous system, iron stores, cell health, appetite & growth B-Complex, C, Potassium, Calcium Stress, nervousness, fatigue, loss of appetite, anemia, stamina
Part of B-Complex
30 - 100 mcg 100 - 200 mcg Helps utiliae other B's, aids Krebs cycle (energy) in synthesis of fats & proteins, cell production B-Complex, C Exhaustion, muscle pain, depression, dry hair/eyes
Part of B-Complex
60 mg 50 - 250 mg Protein & fat metabolism, nerve impulse transmissions B-Complex Atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, liver ailments, tinnitus
Folic Acid
Part of B-Complex
180 - 200 mcg 400 - 2000 mcg Body & cell growth, reproduction, protein synthesis B-Complex, especially B12 B12 deficiency, fatigue, stress, menstrual & reproductive disorders
Part of B-Complex
60 mg 50 - 300 mg Metabolism of fats & cholesterol; hair, brain, eyes, weight control B-Complex, C, Phosphorous Atherosclerosis, constipation, skin & hair problems, insomnia, weight
Part of B-Complex
10 mg 10 - 100 mb Natural sunscreen, skin, hair, protein metabolism A, C, D, E, Phosphorous Gray hair, skin tags, fatigue
Vitamin C 60 mg
100 mg for smokers
1500 - 3000 mg Antioxidant; protects hair, skin, blood cells & vessels, bone, gums & teeth Bioflavonoids, all Vitamins and Minerals Infections, blood skin & aging disorders, bruising, allergies
Vitamin D 400 IU

May be toxic over 1000 IU

400 - 800 IU Calcium & Phosphorous absorption, strong bones & teeth, mineral homeostastis Calcium, Choline, Phosphorous, A, C, F Soft bones & teeth, gum health, muscle weakness, arthritis, nervousness, poor metabolism
Vitamin E
Natural form d-alpha tocopherol
30 IU 50 - 800 IU Antioxidant, circulation (expecially to heart), blood & vessel health, oxygenation, lungs, skin & hair health, prostate B-Complex, Manganese, Selenium, A, C, F Heart disease, stroke, atherosclerosis, cholesterolemia, bloood vessel disorders, premenstrual & menopausal problems, prostate size
Vitamin F*
Essential Fatty Acids
2 Tablespoons 10% of calories Mucous membranes, hair & skin, prevents cholesterol build-up E, A, C, D, Phosphorous Skin disorders, dry hair, heart disease, arthritis
Coenzyme Q-10
  Used by endurance athletes to increase efficiency of carbohydrate usage Fot soluble substance functions in cells in production of energy from carbohydrates   Not a vitamin, no deficiencies or toxicities have been identified
Vitamin K*
2 natural and 1 synthetic forms
45 - 80 mcg
Large doses can cause anemia in animals & jaundice in infants Production of blood clotting protein prothrombin, may inhibit cancers Vitamin E may interfere with clotting effects Rare except in newborns. Synthesized by intestinal flora
Aluminum* No RDA No known positive benefits High intake affects absorption & use of Calcium, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Selenium and Fluoride Possible bone loss muscle weakness & aching, nerve damage, brain disorders  
Arsenic* No RDA 0.4 - 0.9 mg
(Far below toxic)
Essential for growth in other animals    
Boron* No RDA Unknown Found in numerous tissues and may play a role in bone health   No deficiency symptoms have been identified
Cadmium* No RDA Toxic Not excreted from the body and over time may build to toxic levels. Very little is absorbed from average intake of 13 - 24 mcg Toxicity signs include anemia, muscle wastage, hypertension & liver/kidney damage
Calcium 800 - 1200 mg 800 - 1500 mg Bones & teeth, iron stores, nerve relaxation, endurance A, C, D, F, Magnesium, Iron, Phosphorous Bone/teeth disease, sore muscles, nerve problems, insomnia palpitations
Chromium* 50 - 200 mcg 100 - 300 mcg Picolinate form may cause chromosome damage Insulin regulator, circulatory system, energy (sugar metabolism), thyroid & adrenal glands None
Sugar metabolism disorders, athersclerosis
Chlorine* 500 mg
500 mg Digestion of proteins, liver detox, acid-alkaline balance, stomach anti-parasitic Excess destroys Vit E, intestinal flora Hair & tooth loss, digestive problems, muscle disorders
Cobalt* No RDA Refer to B12 requirements Known function is as a constituent of Vitamin B12    
Copper* 1.5 - 3 mgMay be toxic at 10 mg 1.5 - 3 mg Enzyme activity, iron absorption, healing process, hair, skin & cells Zinc, Iron, Cobalt Retarded growth, skin & respiratory problems, anemia
Fluorine* No RDA Safe ranges
1.5 - 4.0 mg
Bone is more stable and resistant to degeneration and osteoporasis. May aid in wound healing & enhance iron absorption. May increase hairline fractures. Treatment of osteoporosis is controversial  
Iodine 150 mcg 100 - 255 mcg Thyroid, rate of metabolism None Thyroid problems, goiter
Iron 10 - 15 mg 15 - 30 mg Hemoglobin, iron stores in cells, oxygen to muscles C, B-Complex, Copper, Calcium Anemia, fatigue, brittle nails, pale skin, restless legs
Lead* No RDA Toxic Produces nerve damage, anemia, muscle wastage, lethargy and mental impairment    
Magnesium 280 - 350 mg 300 - 500 mg Promotes calcium & vitamin C absorption; needed for stron nerves, bones, muscles, heart; energy (sugar metabolism) C, D, B6, Calcium, Phosphorous, Proteins Nervousness, irritability, muscle weakness and pain, heart disease, fatigue, calcium deposits
Manganese* 2 - 5 mg 10 - 15 mg Metabolism & enzyme activator, bone formation B1, E, Calcium, Phosphorous Glandular dysfunctions, dizziness, poor muscle coordination
Mercury* No RDA Toxic Accumulated in the body over time, affects proteins of all forms in the body. May suppress immune system    
Molybdenum* No RDA Estimated safe Ranges
75 - 250 mcg
Prolonged intake of 10 mg may induce gout-like symptoms
Component of enzyme xanthine oxidase that aids in formation of uric acid, important to mobilization of iron from storage, necessary for normal growth & development Excessive copper may interfere with intake, B2, iron Stunted growth, anemia, loss of appetite, weight loss, shortened life span in animals. Deficiency symptoms not reported in humans
Nickel* No RDA No established role
Average intake
0.17 - 0.70 MG
Found in association with genetic code in each cell and may help to active certain enzymes, hormones and cell membranes High blood levels associated with cancer, heart attack, thyroid disorders, psoriasis/eczema Low blood levels are associated with B6 deficiency, cirrhosis of the liver, and kidney failure
Vitamin P*
500 mg
(Rutin, Hesperidin)
500 mg Enhances vitamin C utilization, strengthens blood vessels C, Calcium, Magnesium Easy bruising, blood vessel disorders, colds
Phosphorous 800 - 1200 mg 800 - 1200 mg Cell & bone growth, food & sugar metabolism, brain & nerve activity A, D, F, Iron, Calcium, Proteins Bone & teeth disorders, fatigue, weakness, nervous system disorders
Potassium* 3000 mg 2000 - 5000 mg Osmotic pressure of body fluid, regulates acid-base balance, nerve impulses, muscle contractions B, Sodium Kidney & heart problems, insomnia, muscle weakness, high blood pressure
Selenium 55 - 70 mcg
May be toxic over 900 mcg
50 - 200 mcg Antioxident, tissue & skin elasticity, metabolism & growth, male fertility E Premature aging, arteriosclerosis, male sexual dysfunction
Silicon* No RDA Daily diet is ample in silicon Bone development & maintenance, formation of connective tissue & protein structure . Silicon levels are high in people with atherosclerosis Weak and malformed bones of the arms, legs and head
Sodium* 1.5 - 3.0 mg
May be toxic at 10 mg
1.5 - 3.0 mg Enzyme activity, iron absorption, healing process, hair, skin & cell growth Zinc, Iron Cobalt Retarded growth, skin and respiratory problems, pernicious anemia
Sulfur* No RDA or Safe and Adequate ranges have been established American diet is high in protein and supplies adequate sulfur Gives proteins their shape, involved in formation of bile acids, constituent of obnes and teeth, activates enzymes and helps regulate blood clotting Inactivates sulfur in amino acids, parts of B1, biotin, and active form of pantothenic acid (co-enzyme A) No deficiencies known, corrected by eating protein. If sulfur is deficient, the accompanying protein deficiency would be of greater concern
Tin* No RDA No essential role identified in humans. Avg daily intake 1.5 - 3.5 mg Essential for some species for normal growth and development High intakes may destroy red blood cells, absorption poor  
Vanadium* No RDA No essential role identified in humans
Average daily intake estimated at 2 - 4 mg
May be beneficial for normal growth & development, cholesterol metabolism, hormone production, anti-cancer    
Zinc 12 - 15 mg
May be toxic over 150 mg
20 - 50 mg Prostate, DNA & RNA synthesis, B-Complex & insulin activity, skin healing A, Copper, Calcium, Phosphorous Prostate problems, poor wound healing, senility, fatigue

This table is intended for education purposes oonly and not to diagnose nor prevent disease. It is recommended that you share any nutritional therapy with your medical advisor (provided they are trained in nutrition). Doses for average adult are shown; doses vary with age & weight. RDA from National Academy of Sciences 1989 figures and other sources listed above. *Vitamin or mineral RDA not established. Vitamin K is not usually included in a multi-complex due to its anti-clotting properties. Original table copyright TyH Publications (M. Squires). Toxic minerals were added for information only.

On top of all of the above listed nutrients, there is a whole other class of nutrients which have been promoted over the last few years: phytochemicals. These potent nutrients are found naturally in your foods


Class Nutraceuticals Food Sources Action
Phyto-Estrogens Daidzein, genistein Soy products, alfalfa sprouts May block some cancers, aids menopausal symptoms, genistein inhibits angiogenesis
  Coumestrol Licorice root (not candy) Antiestrogenic
  Formononetin Red clover sprouts Antiestrogenic
Phytoesterols Beta sitosterol, gammo sitosterol,stigmasterol Plant oils, corn, sesame, soy, safflower, wheat, pumpkin Block hormonal role in cancers, inhibit uptake of cholesterol from diet
Saponins Diosgenin Yams, beets, soybeans, beans, nuts May prevent cancer cells from multiplying
Terpenes Carotenoids - alpha, beta, gamma and delta Carrots, winter suash, sweet potatoes, yams, apricots, cantaloupes Antioxidants. Protect DNA from free radical induced damage
  Lycopene Tomatoes and tomato based products Helps block UVA and UVB rays and may protect against prostate cancer
  d-limonene Citrus fruit Promotes protective enzymens, antiseptic
  Lutein, zeaxanthin Spinach, kale, turnip greens Protect eyes from macular degeneration
  Capsaicin Red chile peppers Keeps carcinogens from binding to DNA
Phenols Coumarins Fennel, parsley, carrots,alfalfa Prevents blood clotting, may have anticancer properties
  Flavonoids Citrus fruit, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, green peppers, tomatoes Weak antioxidants. Flavonoids block membrane receptor sites for certain hormones
  Flavanols, oligomeric proanthocyanidins Grape seeds, pine bark Strong antioxidants. They block destructive enzymes, strengthen veins and capillaries
  Catechins Green and black tea Linked to reduced traates of gastrointestinal cancers
  Reservatrol Grapes, especially the skin Antioxidant, antimutagen. Induces detoxification enzymens, carcinogen inhibition
  Curcubitacins Yellow and green squash Antihepatotoxic, antitumor
Sulfur compounds Allylic sulfides, gamma glutamyl, allyl cysteine Onions, garlic (all kinds) Promote liver enzymes, inhibit chloesterol synthesis, reduce triglycerides, lower blood pressure, improve immune response, fight infection and parasites
  Glucosinolates, isothiocyanates, sulforaphane Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage mustard, radish Induce protective enzymes
Organic acids Indole-3-carbinol Cabbage, kale May protect against colon cancer
  P-coumaric, chlorogenic Tomatoes, green peppers Block production of cancer causing nitrosamine
  Ferulic, gallic, ellagallic Rice, grains, tea Antitumor, astringent
  Phytic Grains, rice barley, corn, wheat, rye Antitumor, astringent
  Ascorbic Citrus fruit, broccoli, most fruits and veggies Binds iron, preventing it from becoming a cancer causing pro-oxidant
  Glyceritinic Licorice (not candy) Antioxidant, preserves vitamin E, restores collagen, protects heart, supports anticancer activity
Fiber Lignans Soybeans, nuts, flaxseeds Inhibit tumor progression, estrogenic or antiestrogenic as needed
  Pectins Apples, pears, prunes, plums Promote beneficial intestinal flora, colon action
Protease inhibitors Protease inhibitors Soy foods, potatoes, eggs, cereals Prevent activation of specific genes that cause cancer, protect against radiation and free radicals

Adapted from Delicious! Annual Guide, 1997, p 15, Marcia Zimmerman, M.Ed., C.N. This information is provided for eucational purposes only. Visit a health care professional if you think phytochemical supplementation might benefit you.

Any comments are greatly appreciated as well as annoted and referenced information signed by the sender. You can send suggested edits to the author for review.

Gregory James Sharp is an ACE (American Council on Exercise) certified personal trainer, member of the Reebok Professional Instructor Alliance and as of 10-4-97 is pending certification by AFPA (American Fitness Professionals & Associates) as a nutritional consultant. He has been an active competitive athlete (triathlons and running)and fitness enthusiast for over 12 years. He currently publishes HSF Webzine and works as a personal trainer at Family Fitness Center in Huntsville, AL. If you would like a free fitness evaluation, please call him at 205-536-0690 to arrange a convenient time. You can also look him up at http://www.sharp1.com/certifie.htm or email him at sharp1@traveller.com

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