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TOPIC - Dietary Allowances
Question
Does taking a bit less of RDA e.g 70% over a long period have very harmful effects?
Answer
The RDA or Recommended Dietary Allowances levels for each nutrient are meant to meet the needs of 98% of the population. A few people need more than the recommended levels, most people need less. However, since you do not know where you are the range, it is recommended that you aim to meet the RDA levels over time (not necessarily everyday). The RDA committees state that "....there is little evidence that small surpluses of nutrients are detrimental, whereas consistent uncompensated deficits, even small ones, over a long period of time can lead to deficiencies". Thus if you consistently fall below the recommended levels, you may find yourself deficient in some nutrients over time especially ones that turn over quickly like iron, calcium, and thiamin. I would suggest trying to get your average intake levels up closer to 80-90%.
Question
How much carbohydrates should a young female adult take per day? How much carbohydrates can one have to refrain from putting on weight?
Answer
The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) provides guidelines for the average daily intakes of nutrients over a period of time for the majority of the adult population. The new guidelines for carbohydrate is set at 130 grams/day for adults and children based on the minimum amount needed by the brain. This amount is typically exceeded to meet energy needs (about 180-230 grams/day for women). Your individual requirement may be different and will vary depending on your physical activity and body needs.

The amount of carbohydrate you eat is not the only determinant of weight gain. Many other factors affect weight gain such as how active you are, your total daily calorie intake (ie. how much protein, fat and alcohol is consumed in addition to carbohydrate), and your metabolic rate. You should not be limiting your carbohydrate only if you are concerned about gaining weight. I would suggest checking with your doctor or get a referral to a dietitian if you have weight gain concerns.
Question
What is RDA? How can I use it to reduce weight?
Answer
RDA stands for Recommended Dietary Allowances. The National Research Council defines as the level of essential nutrients (based on scientific knowledge) adequate to meet the the known nutrient needs of the practically all healthy persons. What this means is that there is a recommended level for about 19 nutrients that the experts feel is neccessary to keep 98% of the population healthy.

There is an abbreviated RDA table in the Nutrition Basics section of the site. For the full table, you can access it at: www.nalusda.gov/fnic/dga/rda.html.

The RDA is not commonly used in weight management as the recommendation for calorie/energy is not precise enough to effect weight loss. It only provides broad ranges of calories for different activity levels for men and women of various age groups. If you are looking for guidelines to reduce weight, use the Food Guide Pyramid as a guide.

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