Supplements – Optimum Daily Allowances

What levels of nutrients should you aim for in a supplement programme?

Everyone is different and therefore has unique nutritional needs. But a general indication as to how much to supplement of each individual nutrient can be calculated by subtracting the amount you can achieve from a reasonably healthy diet from the estimated Optimum Daily Allowances (see chart below) we’ve calculated at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition. The shortfall between the two gives you a general guide as to the sort of levels to look for in your supplement programme.

The chart also shows the differences between an average diet and a good diet – measured against both the recommended daily allowance – or RDA (the basic level set by governments to ensure we don’t develop deficiency diseases such as scurvy and rickets) – and the ODA (the level we recommend you aim for if you want to achieve optimum health).

Using vitamin C as an example, the RDA is 60mg. The average intake is 100mg. If you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables you could achieve 200mg. The optimal intake is somewhere between 1,000 and 3,000mg. The ODA is set at the mid-point of 2,000mg. The shortfall between a good diet (200mg) and the ODA (2,000mg) is 1,800mg. This is the kind of level worth supplementing.