Usda Daily Values
The purpose of the DV is to set the level of intake of that nutrient that an average healthy person needs to avoid showing symptoms of a deficiency, with a margin added because some people have health problems.
Readers of books on nutrition will probably laugh at the thought of DVs having an extra margin, because the underlying theme of the alternative health field is that the FDA's DVs are grossly inadequate. I'd say "laughably" inadequate, but playing around with our health is not a laughing matter.
For example, we need to eat 10 mg of Vitamin C a day to avoid showing signs of scurvy. Since people with severe health problems need more, the USDA sets the DV of Vitamin C at 60 mg.
So right away you have to understand that, although often promoted this way, the DVs are not intended to create OPTIMUM health -- only to prevent nutrient deficiencies. Supplement critics who claim that DVs are adequate fail to understand the simple difference between no-disease-symptoms and terrific health.
Modern research shows that for many nutrients, more is healthier -- up to a reasonable limit. Plus, it's far behind the marketplace. Some important nutrients have no DV, so if you're naive or uninformed you may think they're not necessary at all. For example, the most important single nutrient you can take is omega-3 oils, yet they have no DV.
One somewhat positive thing the USDA does is also recommend that Americans eat at least five servings a day of fruits and vegetables. I say "somewhat positive" because this is, again, minimal -- even though it's more fruits and vegetables than many Americans do eat, so it would be an improvement.
One problem here is defining a "serving." According to the USDA, a serving is equal to about one-half a cup. That's not very much. I eat two cups of grapes or cherries every morning for breakfast. A whole apple or orange is considered one serving, though obviously there're big and small apples and oranges. Four ounces of fruit or vegetable juice equals one serving. So a full glass counts as two servings.
Of course, this doesn't take into account the nutritional variations. I'd rather eat one organically grown apple than five from the supermarket. I'd rather drink one glass from a good juicer than twenty glasses of commercial orange juice.
Personally, I suggest you ignore the USDA and seek out the best information you can find on how to have TERRIFIC health -- unless you want to spend your life as an average American, just barely not sick.
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