By Walter Sorochan Emeritus Professor: San Diego State University
Date posted: September 14, 2012; updated March 14, 2013. Disclaimer
For the past 50 years we have been bombarded with information about nutrition, what to eat and how much. Much of the data to support nutritional recommendations [ e.g. Recommended Daily Allowances/Intake (RDA/I) ] lack scientific evidence and is based on speculation, expert opinion and guesses. O'Shea: Minerals [ Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) is the daily intake level of a nutrient that is considered to be sufficient to meet the requirements of 97–98% of healthy individuals in every demographic in the United States.] Indeed, the identity of 'the science' itself has eroded in the past 50 years. This erosion has occurred in spite of many technological advancements in industry, medicine and the health fields. "The scientific revolution has stalled!" Myslewski: science stalled 2013 Scientific Integrity 2012 Robinson: Govt corrupts science 2010 The lack of focus on relevant research in health and nutrition perceived as a consequence of this revolution.
Recent scientific advances on nutrition have not led to consensus, but rather to substantial disagreement among experts and further uncertainty for the public. Hite: weaknesses in guidelines 2010 Taubes: epidemiological studies on health 2007 The value of RDA/RDIs is disputed among nutritionists. Hanson: dumb RDA 2011 Indeed, even the "definition of RDAs and their relevance to health" is disputed. Henney: failure to change habits 2010 HBP com: 1999 Wiki: RD
Although nutritionists and those selling nutritional supplements espouse that they have all the information needed to convince you that they know what they are saying and doing, this may not be the case!
Such controversies makes it appropriate to review the processes of how decisions are made about nutritional values.
Appropriateness of nutritional research design studies
We lack good research on food, nutrients and health.
Nutritionists hide behind the idea that information about nutrition is scientifically based. But there is now information from respected researchers that all decisions about nutrition are not based on real evidence data and good research. Hanson: dumb RDA 2011 Borger: drug monopoly During the last decade, approaches to evidence-based medicine, with its heavy reliance on the randomized clinical trial [RCT], have been adapted to nutrition science and policy. However, there are distinct differences between the evidence that can be obtained for the testing of drugs using RCTs and those needed for the development of nutrient requirements or dietary guidelines. Hildenbrand: nutrition as preventative
There have been numerous other instances in recent decades when individuals or groups of individuals have advocated nutritional interventions or alternative dietary lifestyles as a means of preventing or even treating disease and have met not only indifference but often hostility. This was especially true for those advocating vegetarianism or an extremely low-fat diet as a means of preventing or treating illnesses such as heart disease. Hildenbrand: nutrition as preventative
Respected author Gary Taubes has summarized the many prospective or cohort and randomized-controlled trials research studies, of which the renown Harvard University Nurses’ Health Study is among the most respected. He reviews various aspects of the Nurse's Health Study on how epidemiological analyses [ comparisons of populations with and without a disease ] have concluded that medical researchers make flawed conclusions about cause and effect based on circumstantial evidence; thereby often drafting invalid recommendations and public policies. Confounding effects also limit the credibility of research trials and this is often overlooked. Taubes: epidemiological studies on health 2007 Ben Goldacre: drug ghosts bad science 2010 Borger: drug monopoly
Nutrition and chronic disease research is actually in a relative state of infancy compared to that for pharmaceuticals, which has long adhered to the principles of evidence-based medicine [EBM]. In contrast to pharmaceuticals though, nutrition researchers have yet to establish clear criteria and guidelines for how best to study the effects of nutrients in humans, and subsequently how to evaluate those findings, i.e. what constitutes ‘evidence-based nutrition’ (EBN). Shao: evidence nutrition 2009
Several prominent nutrition researchers have been quite vocal in recent years, raising concerns over what they perceive to be the misapplication of drug-based trials to assess nutrition questions. Shao: evidence nutrition 2009 What is the difference between drugs and nutrients? Drugs generally have effects on single cells in the body whereas nutrients tend to work in concert with other helper nutrients and affect multiple cells and organs. Since drugs affect body systems differently from nutrients, the traditional “gold standard” research design used in evaluating drug medications is not applicable to evaluating nutrient affects and dosages. It is helpful to briefly review how the daily intake level of vitamins and minerals is determined. Shao: evidence nutrition 2009 Taubes: epidemiological studies on health 2007
How we get information about food and health
There is a lot of information on the internet that is of questionable quality. Reporters often tend to hurry their scripts in an effort to meet deadlines. Hence mass media information about nutrition is not very reliable.
There is also mounting controversy over how dietary recommendations are made:
Bad medical-drug research
Flawed drug research designs have been unwittingly used as models for studying nutrition and health. Angell: truth about drug companies 2010 Ben Goldacre: drug ghosts bad science 2010 Borger: drug monopoly Messina: nutrition research 2011 The public puts its trust in drug related studies on the assumption that the federal government is a watch dog in such research, and supposedly monitors and polices an equal playing field in medical-drug research. More important, the public assumes that products of such research are safe medications that doctors prescribe. Instead, doctors who prescribe these drugs are doing so on faulty information. Unfortunately, the federal government has failed to police a fair and honest research playing field; one that is tilted toward private drug companies and not the safety of the public. Those conducting nutritional-health research are lulled into believing that drug research designs are the designs that they should use.
British medical doctor and researcher Ben Goldacre Moosa: Shody med research 2012 discusses the ways pharmaceutical companies conduct medical trials on drugs. He continues:
In spite of revealing information about how unreliable drug research designs may be, many nutrition and health researchers perceive drug research designs as the model to emulate. Adding to the grief of copycatting bad research designs is information that recommended eating guidelines for many disorders, like diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases, are often based on opinions of persons and to a lesser degree on data-driven nutritional research. Such opinionated recommendations may be further distorted by bad research. Angell: truth about drug companies 2010 There is also the report by reporter Ben Goldacre that drug companies have employed ghost writers to produce academic papers that can be printed in academic journals to build a brand message. The falsified drug information is sanctified as published in a reputable academic journal, then made public. Ben Goldacre: drug ghosts bad science 2010 Angell: truth about drug companies 2010
Another aspect of nutrition research is lack of good communication by researchers. The research may be good but the information provided to the public is often poorly done by mass media. Hence, the public becomes poorly informed. Miller: nutrition communication
Intent of Nutrition Guidelines
The evolution of nutritional guidelines is another example of how unreliable nutritional recommendations can be. Recommended Daily Allowances were not meant to be guidelines for consumers; they were originally designed to serve as standards for planning food supplies for population groups [National Research Council, 1989]. However, they are used as a partial basis for the development of other guidelines that are intended for consumers, such as the Food Guide Pyramid, which was released by USDA in 1992 to replace the old "basic four" food groups. Hildenbrand: nutrition as preventative
Most knowledge about nutrition and staying healthy came incidentally from observation of whether persons were sick or healthy. Below are four such examples:
Biochemical differences overlooked in RDA
Nutritional recommendations tend to ignore biochemical differences in people. "One size does not fit all!" The same amount of a nutrient [ e.g. 100mgs vitamin C per day ] does not fit the average all! Biochemical Individuality Kaplan: R. Williams Bichem individuality 2012 As individuals of differing age, size and sex, we need different amounts of nutrients ---- one dosage for all does not fit all!
“The Recommended Dietary Allowances [RDAs], which were adopted by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council to establish the nutritional needs of "practically all healthy people," were not based upon the more recent information concerning the range of biochemical individuality among individuals. The RDAs that describe "normal" nutritional needs have questionable relevancy to the concept of optimal nutrition based upon individual needs." Kaplan: R. Williams Bichem individuality 2012
Soil depletion - lower nutrients in food
The affect that soils depleted of minerals have on plant food are seldom accounted for in RDI. You don't know the real nutrient values in the foods you buy in the grocery store or the meals you eat in the restaurants. Much of the food we eat is grown in soil that has been stripped of its mineral content. Although trace minerals are naturally found in topsoil, flooding and over-irrigation, along with poor crop rotation, have eroded topsoil, affecting the mineral content of our foods. Karr: Mineral nutrient depletion Davis: decline in nutrients 2009 Marler nutri values from soils 2006 Butler: soil depletion 2006 Dairy Herd news: mineral absorption 2011 Laibow: nutrition & health
"According to Donald R. Davis, a former research associate with the Biochemical Institute at the University of Texas, Austin: the average vegetable found in today's supermarket is anywhere from 5% to 40% lower in minerals [including magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc] than those harvested just 50 years ago. Davis: decline in nutrients 2009
There is also a great information gap between what is known about how minerals and other nutrients work as helpers in the body [ also referred to as co-factors]. The alarming thing about co-factors is how important these are to absorption and utilization of nutrients and that so very little research is being done about co-factors.
Known mineral interactions include copper-molybdenum, sulfur-selenium, calcium-phosphorus, calcium-zinc, calcium-manganese, iron-manganese and potassium-magnesium. With many minerals, absorption of the mineral decreases as their amount in the diet increases. You also need to note that older humans typically have lower absorption rates. Schroeder: Minerals in cattle 2012 Dairy Herd news: mineral absorption 2011 Patton: Chelated minerals review
Although the above mineral interactions may appear to be working, the exact ratio of co-factors to each other is unknown in many instances and may actually cause disorders. For example, how much calcium should be taken at the same time with magnesium? The co-factor ratio of [ calcium ] Ca:Mg [ magnesium ] is not a precise ratio. One source suggests a Ca:Mg = 1:1 ratio, based on archeological studies of how man ate and survived over the past 10,000 years. Another source, based on incomplete research, suggests that the ratio may be closer to 2:1 ... that is, for example 1000 mg of calcium to 500mg of magnesium. Both ratios take into account that too much magnesium causes diarrhea and, on the other hand, that too much calcium may cause kidney stones and calcification in different parts of the body. These ratios may also be compromised by biochemical individuality. Co-factors More often than not, co-factor ratios are expert guesses.
Another issue about nutrients is the amount of a nutrient that is absorbed from the digestive system. The amount of a nutrient ingested and the amount absorbed into the blood stream are two different quantities! You may ingest 100 milligrams of a nutrient supplement but the actual amount absorbed into the blood stream is unknown; probably about 10 to 30% actually enters the blood stream and varies with each individual.
The body often places control, even absolute limits on the percent of absorption that is possible for different minerals. For example, growing children can absorb up to 60% of their dietary calcium, whereas adults average only about 30% calcium absorption. Minerals are usually combined [ bonded or chelated ] with amino acids or citrates to facilitate absorption. Patton: Chelated minerals review Such bonding is done to have better absorption in the digestive system.
In light of the limitations of nutrient availability to the body and with biochemical individuality among the public, commercial companies use educated guesses in designing supplemental formulations. Gerber: Mineral absorption Garrett: mineral absorption 2011
There are many other nutrient linked factors that have not been covered: such as the impact processed foods and genetically engineered foods have on quality and safety of nutrients in the foods we eat. The complete nutritional information on the label may be missing and is questionable! Another is the controversy over the impact that fall-out radiation from nuclear power plant failure in Japan has on safety of sea foods.
This article reviewed the many aspects of how decisions are made about nutrients and their recommendations to the public. The revelations are not good. Many researchers in the past used inappropriate designs to study nutrition and health. Too many recommendations have been based on expert opinions instead of good science! We desperately need more and better independent research about nutrition and health. Felder: professor research myth
Does inappropriate research in the past mean that research to improve human health is futile? Not at all. Although nutritional guidelines may be the best information about nutrient values we have at this time we lack validity about nutrient quality and quantity. Of great concern should be the amount or dosage needed for super health and not just preventing diseases. Many previous research attempts have provided us with some good information. But we can and must do better! We need to demand more from those doing research.
We need to use appropriate and independent research designs to study nutrition, foods and health. Research on nutrients needs to be independent of the regulatory subsidies of the Department of Agriculture, the drug corporations and the revolving doors of the FDA.
The RDI claims made on nutritional labels should be viewed as approximate values. RDIs and supplemental information are unreliable and should not be trusted! /span>
While we wait for politicians and 'experts' on eating to get their act together and do a better job of researching about RDI and co-factors, we continue to eat and live! Unfortunately, our foods, grown on depleted soils, are providing us with poor nutrition. The best source of all nutrients is still from food, buttressed by supplements. Suggesting that you use common sense in eating good food is easy but incorporating common sense into everyday life is difficult! We need to re-engineer our life styles. How we grow food and how we eat!
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"Approximately 75 percent of dietary sodium is added to food during its processing and manufacturing. Only 10 percent of dietary salt comes from foods' natural content. Therefore, a high dietary salt intake is associated with diets in which a large portion of the daily calories consists of processed foods. Conversely, diets that have a higher proportion of fruits, vegetables, and legumes are associated with lower blood pressures. They also are consistent with current public health recommendations for diets, including the 1990 Federal Government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans. By following recommendations for lower sodium intake, consumers will encourage manufacturers of processed foods to expand the types and availability of lower sodium products. This should gradually reduce the sodium content of the U.S. food supply. Until then, consumers must be careful to select lower sodium products, especially among ready-to-eat cereals and certain other grain products."
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"A commercial medical writing company is employed by a drug company to produce a programme of academic papers that can be rolled out in academic journals to build a brand message. After copywriters produce the articles, in collaboration with the drug company, to their specifications, the ghostwriting company finds some academics who are willing to put their names to them, perhaps after a few modest changes."
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"Important aspects of these recommendations remain unproven, yet a dietary shift in this direction has already taken place even as overweight/obesity and diabetes have increased. Although appealing to an evidence-based methodology, the DGAC Report demonstrates several critical weaknesses, including use of an incomplete body of relevant science; inaccurately representing, interpreting, or summarizing the literature; and drawing conclusions and/or making recommendations that do not reflect the limitations or controversies in the science."
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"DGAC Report demonstrates several critical weaknesses, including use of an incomplete body of relevant science; inaccurately representing, interpreting, or summarizing the literature; and drawing conclusions and/or making recommendations that do not reflect the limitations or controversies in the science. An objective assessment of evidence in the DGAC Report does not suggest a conclusive proscription against low-carbohydrate diets. The DGAC Report does not provide sufficient evidence to conclude that increases in whole grain and fiber and decreases in dietary saturated fat, salt, and animal protein will lead to positive health outcomes. Lack of supporting evidence limits the value of the proposed recommendations as guidance for consumers or as the basis for public health policy. It is time to reexamine how US dietary guidelines are created and ask whether the current process is still appropriate for our needs."
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Human bodies need vitamin C in tissues which is impossible to test for. Vit C is tested in the body using the serum C test. "Serum C does not and will NOT reflect tissue levels. What tissues? Every tissue, every cell in your body, skin, muscle, bone, teeth, all organs, pituitary, adrenals, heart, kidney, liver, ovaries, testes, and your brain, contain and require vitamin C." Unfortunately your tissue levels cannot be tested until you're dead. You need to take vit C and experiment for the best dosage for you.
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Kuhn's central claim is that a careful study of the history of science reveals that development in any scientific field happens via a series of phases. "Normal science does not aim at novelty but at clearing up the status quo. It tends to discover what it expects to discover." Scientific revolution occurs when the previous paradigm of a scientific discipline is completely overthrown by a new paradigm.
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Biochemical Individuality is made up of: 1. Genetic factors/family history 2. Digestive capacities 3. Absorbtive capacities 4. Toxic load 5. Heavy metal or other enzyme inhibitors 6. Underlying disease 7. Adrenal status 8. Immune competence and status 9. Acid-Base balance 10. Enzyme production 11. Lymphatic efficiency 12. Mineralization of bone 13. Hormone status 14. Age 15. Gender 16. Life cycle stage 17. Dietary intake 18. Treatment with drugs, radiation 19. Emotional status 20. Vaccination status 21. Gut ecology 22. Etc.
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Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) is the daily intake level of a nutrient that is considered to be sufficient to meet the requirements of 97–98% of healthy individuals in every demographic in the United States (where it was developed, but has since been used in other places).
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Scurvy often presents itself initially as symptoms of malaise and lethargy, followed by formation of spots on the skin, spongy gums, and bleeding from the mucous membranes. Spots are most abundant on the thighs and legs, and a person with the ailment looks pale, feels depressed, and is partially immobilized. As scurvy advances, there can be open, suppurating wounds, loss of teeth, jaundice, fever, neuropathy and death. Vitamin C is required for the synthesis of collagen in humans; collagen is the glue that binds body tissues together.
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The RDI is used to determine the Daily Value (DV) of foods, which is printed on nutrition facts labels in the a title="United States" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States">United States and Canada, which is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and a title="Health Canada" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_Canada">Health Canada.
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