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Disease Prevention

New RDAs and Increased Support for Benefits of Antioxidants

New information on antioxidants and their potential for preventing disease has been released by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), prompting increases in RDAs for sevral nutrients.

"The NAS report contains an abundance of positive information about antioxidants. It's encouraging the report includes research recommendations for full-scale intervention trials to test the prevention potential of vitamins C and E, selenium and carotenoids for chronic disease," said Annette Dickinson, Ph.D., vice president for nutritional and regulatory science for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN).

While the report stopped short of concluding that evidence is sufficiently consistent to permit recommended intakes based on disease prevention, it did recognize the wide range of safe intakes for antioxidant vitamins and issued higher Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for vitamin C and E.

New RDAs for antioxidant nutrients are: vitamin C, 75 milligrams (mg) for women and 90 mg for men; vitamin E, 15 mg; and selenium, 55 micrograms (mcg).

The report indicated there is "reason to expect the antioxidant vitamins (C and E) should decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease." In addition, the report noted it is reasonable to expect vitamin C would reduce oxidative damage to the eye, thus lessening the risk of cataracts and other conditions.

The report also established tolerable upper intake levels (ULs) for vitamin C (2,000 mg), vitamin E (1,000 mg) and selenium (400 mcg). ULs for adults are set to protect the most sensitive individuals of the general population.

"We were optimistic the scientific evidence on these antioxidants would permit the establishment of higher RDAs. However, the science is definitely moving in the right direction and we're pleased to add the NAS report to the totality of ever-growing scientific data," said John Cordaro, CRN's president and chief executive officer. "Consumers can continue to have confidence in antioxidant supplements, when used according to label instructions."

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