The Beginnings of the RDA

Hey there readers! I hope that you all have enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday and were able to relax, eat, and enjoy the company of friends and family. I was fortunate enough to be able to celebrate with both my new family and my own family. It has been a great long weekend, but it is time to get back to the grind of the regular week. Sad, but don’t worry Christmas is right around the corner and I promise I have not already been listening to Christmas music nonstop already…

On to today’s topic! I told you last week that I was going to start looking into the history and relevance of the Recommended Daily Allowance. I am fairly certain that if you have at the very least been through the school system here in the United States, you have heard about the RDA. That little food pyramid has been shoved at us as the prime example of a “healthy” diet. But why? Who decided to take every person’s needs and try to configure them into one little pyramid?

The RDA came about as a result of World War II. Lydia J. Roberts, Hazel Stiebeling and Helen S. Mitchell were all part of a committee that was created by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences to look into how nutrition could affect the defense of the country. Pretty much the government wanted to make sure that we could keep soldiers and potential soldiers healthy so that they could keep fighting and we could win the war. This committee looked into the amount of nutrients that people needed to keep their body functioning and came up with a set of guide lines that became known as the RDA. They submitted these guidelines to the government and they were approved in 1941. Luckily the committee realized that these guidelines might not always be relevant, due to economics and industry, and decided to revise the RDA every five to ten years.

The idea of a recommended daily allowance in theory is a good one. People need to know what and how much to eat to be able to live a healthy lifestyle. The problem comes with the fact that the human population is so nutritionally diverse that it is hard to create a diet that will fit every single food need out there. The RDA unfortunately cannot work for everyone out there, and in reality, there will probably never be a “perfect diet” for everyone in the human race. The RDA however is a good starting point and can act as a spring board for learning about your individual need nutrient-wise to live a healthy lifestyle.

In the next few posts I am going to look in to the components of the RDA and try to break things down for you, show you the flaws as well as the points that work. Hopefully this will help you learn to look at your diet and see where you need to make some adjustments. Like I said before, my RDA and your RDA probably will not look that same. You will not need the same amount of vitamins and minerals as I do. Your portions will be different and your tastes and needs will vary. That is why nutrition is so great (as well as frustrating), because it really can be tailored exactly to what YOU need. You just have to be willing to do a little research and experimenting and you can find yourself with a healthy and happy life!


Happy Thanksgiving!