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The main goal of consuming food products is to provide our bodies with an adequate amount of nutrients to keep our bodies functioning normally. To do this we must figure out what exactly it is that our bodies require, and how we are going to get what our bodies require. This goal is driven by the previously occurring nutrient deficiencies that occurred in our population that threaten the lives of anyone who does not consume enough of a particular essential nutrient. An essential nutrient is a nutrient in which our bodies do not make or do not make in adequate amounts. The National Academy of Sciences, the Food and Nutrition Board, and the Institute of Medicine have all joined forces to determine how much of particular nutrients we need to consume to keep up our normal bodily functions and processes. They began to assign definitions to their recommendations. Such as they defined RDA as the level of essential nutrients that should be consumed to meet the requirements of almost all (97.5%) of the population of healthy individuals. Before 1994, these boards and institutes focused solely on determining the required amount of essential nutrients one should consume. By implementing a policy they made certain food products add in certain essential amino acids that the food product was lacking in, so they could effectively eliminate nutrient deficiencies from the population. Once 1994 came about, these people began to work on other ideas, such as the role of one’s immune system in health. These people recognized there is more to health than just simply making sure that people consume the required amount of essential nutrients. They began to realize that immune system plays a huge role in keeping one’s body healthy, as well as they began to articulate arguments about how certain diets can affect one’s risk for certain cancers and diseases. These scientists also wanted to determine what the upper limit should be for consuming nutrients that would still be considered safe to consume. In addition, they began working on the different requirements set out for different types of people. For example, an athlete that is under unusual circumstances, and a pregnant and lactating woman will both have different requirements for nutrients than an average individual. Figuring out their newfound arguments became the major priority of these scientists. Lineas Pauling studied how diet relates to degenerative diseases. He found that we must consume adequate amounts of ascorbic acid to be able to prevent scurvy, and we also need it for certain oxidative purposes. Even though we have lost the ability to produce ascorbic acid, he asked if we could produce it, how much would we produce? This was an insightful question, considering he was simply wondering how much ascorbic acid does a human body require? His recommendation was a lot of ascorbic acid, because having extra ascorbic acid in the body doesn’t hurt anything, since the excess exits the body rapidly. In food there are essential nutrients and nutrient-related compounds. Essential nutrients are as previously stated those nutrients that the body must get from food, considering we cannot synthesize them in adequate amounts. These nutrients are essential to keep us living and keep up our basic bodily functions. Nutrient-related compounds are those compounds in which have biological functions since they help maintain a homeostatically constant/neutral internal environment. There may be some evidence proving that these nutrient-related compounds may have some role in improving our health, physiology, etc. The scientists began to define certain requirements that they had set for the population to follow. For example, the dietary reference intake was defined as a term that includes all of the dietary reference values, such as the estimated average requirement, the recommended dietary allowance, the adequate intake, the tolerable upper intake level, and the acceptable macronutrient distribution range. With all of these values the scientists had to make a key assumption that the population is evenly distributed in a bell shaped curve, which is possible, but not exactly what it is in reality. The estimated average requirement (EAR) is analogous to the Lethal dose 50; except for it is the adequacy 50. More generally, the EAR is the recommended average intake of nutrients per day that will meet the needs of half of the entire population of healthy people. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is the recommended average intake of nutrients per day that will meet the needs of 97.5% of the healthy population. Therefore, the RDA is equal to the EAR plus two standard deviations, with the taking the key assumption that the population is evenly distributed into mind. The adequate intake (AI) is the same as the RDA except for this value was found from conducting experiments on a sample of healthy individuals. The tolerable upper intake level (UL) is the maximum amount of a nutrient one can consume per day and still be considered healthy. So the UL is not the recommended amount of a nutrient one should consume, but it should be looked at as being the maximum that anyone should consume without imposing a health risk. It has not been tested as a market place data experiment that no population that has consumed an excess of a nutrient has shown any extra benefits. There is a large portion of the population that still believes if they consume more of a good nutrient, they will be better off, but this is not true. When talking about essential nutrients the scientists’ solution to ensuring the population consumes enough of them was to overdose everyone with the essential nutrients. The concept of overdosing everyone with essential nutrients was quite ingenious, considering if one has excess of those essential nutrients in the body they will simply be excreted in the urine, since they are water-soluble. The acceptable macronutrient distribution range (AMDR) is the range of macronutrients that meets our needs, and is associated with not increasing one’s risk for chronic diseases. The last problem the scientists are facing is the problem of determining which macronutrient provides us with the best source of energy? Humans can get energy/fuel from protein, fat, and carbohydrates, although we do not know which of these macronutrients provide our bodies with the best and most complete source of fuel. The Institute of Medicine has recognized the problem, although they have no good way to test it, considering when they complete studies and experiments on high protein diets or diets high in one specific macronutrient the results are never positive. Therefore, it is not an option at this point to simply just consume one macronutrient to fulfill the needs of our bodies. Hence, we need to find out more about food composition, so the USDA took millions of our tax dollars to analyze the composition of every type of food product. They obtained very detailed results and focused on macronutrients, essential nutrients, and calories the most, but they also analyzed foods for vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and sources of nitrogen. These analytical scientists examine foods in a variety of ways such as, with the use of chromatography and spectrophotometers. All the processes they use to analyze foods are very complicated although yield very accurate results. There are many agencies and associations that analyze food composition, for example the Association of Official Analytical Chemists, and the American Association of Cereal Chemists.


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