Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C)

Photomicrograph of Ascorbic Acid under the microscope

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is a benchmark for nutritionally well-balanced diets, which was originally developed to ensure that World War II soldiers received proper types of food for maintaining good health. Designed to protect people against possible nutrient deficiencies, the RDA sets minimum dietary requirements of nutrient intake for average, healthy individuals. Different levels, however, may be recommended for children, the elderly, and people whose health is comprised by disease or stressed by activities such as physical exertion, smoking, and exposure to extreme environmental conditions. The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council (a division of the National Academy of Sciences) is currently supplementing the RDA baseline by issuing nutrient recommendations that are based on optimizing health in individuals and certain groups. An additional indictor, Adequate Intake, has been assigned to nutrients that do not have sufficient scientific evidence to establish average requirements. Increasing interest in nutritional supplements and fortified foods has led to maximum intake indicators, which provide general guidance about possible toxic levels to healthy people in specific groupings of gender and age, called the Tolerable Upper Intake Level or ULs. Labels on packaged foods, termed the Nutrition Facts Panel, are mandatory on all processed foodstuffs and must quantitatively indicate the product's content of ascorbic acid and other vitamins.

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