Uncovering the Benefits of Optimal Nutrient Dosing

By Michael A. Smith, MD

In 1941 the U.S. National Academy of Sciences established the recommended daily allowances (RDA) for vitamins and minerals. The RDA is the daily dose of a nutrient that’s needed for the average person to stay healthy. Although updates are made every 5 to 10 years, the RDA for vitamins and minerals haven’t changed significantly over time.

Today, most of us use the recommended daily intake or RDI. This is basically the same thing, but is more specific in that it states the daily dose needed to keep 98% of people healthy. Because it has a broader scope, the recommendations are usually a bit higher than the RDA.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here’s our point: both the RDA and RDI are pretty much useless. We believe that it’s time for our government to support what we call the ODI … ”optimal daily intake.”

What is Optimal Daily Intake?

Life Extension enthusiasts prefer what we call Optimal Daily Intake or the ODI. Dosing vitamin and minerals at this level goes far beyond protection against deficiencies and enters into the world of disease prevention, treatment and even human longevity.

By the way, ODI is not an official dosing system. We made it up. However, we do think it should be official. So our goal is to continue educating people on the potential health benefits from higher nutrient dosing. And there’s a lot of them, some of which you may not have known.

The Lesser Known Benefits from Higher Doses

The following table lists the ODI of the vitamins and major minerals. It also includes some of the lesser known health benefits obtained from taking the ODI. So let’s dive right in.

Optimal Daily Intake
Lesser Known Health Benefits
Vitamin A
(as 90% beta-carotene)
5,000 units
May improve lung function in asthma1
Supports mucosal linings2
Vitamin B12
600 mcg - 1 mg
Improved nerve function3
Protection from coronary artery disease4
Vitamin C
2,000 mg
Heart function5
Protection from ulcers with H. pylori6
Vitamin D
2,000 - 5,000 units
Lowers risk of colon cancer7
Reduces risk of falls8
Vitamin E
400 units
Induces breast cancer cell death9
Induces prostate cancer cell death10
Vitamin K2
1,100 mcg
Reduces bone fracture risk11
Reduces risk of coronary artery disease12
1200 mg women
600 mg men
Inhibits production of body fat13
450 mcg
Supports optimal blood sugar levels14
1 mg
Protects against osteoporosis15
400 mg
Associated with lower risk of heart disease16
200 mcg
Decreases hospitalizations in HIV patients17
35 mg
Enhances antibody production18

As an educated consumer, you should get into the habit of looking at the back of the label … not the front. The front label is nothing more than marketing jargon to grab your attention. The real information is on the back. Identify each vitamin and mineral and make sure you’re going to get optimal dosing from the product. If not, keep looking!


  1. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011 Mar;127(3):724-33.e1-30. Epub 2010 Dec 24.
  2. Nutr Rev. 1998;56:S38-48.
  3. Neurol Sci. 2011 Feb;32(1):183-6. Epub 2010 Oct 2.
  4. Coron Artery Dis. 2011 Jun;22(4):270-8.
  5. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2002 Jun 28;294(5):1161-8.
  6. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2000 Dec 6;92(23):1881-8.
  7. Available at: http://ww.cdc.gov/cancer/colorctl/colorect.htm.
  8. JAMA. 2004 Apr 28;291(16):1999-2006.
  9. Nutr Cancer. 1997; 28:30-35.
  10. Ann NY Acad Sci. 2004 Dec;1031:399-400
  11. Arch Intern Med. 2006 Jun 26;166(12):1256-61.
  12. J Nutr. 2004 Nov;134(11):3100-5.
  13. FASEB J. 2000; 14:1132-8.
  14. Altern Med Rev. 2002 Jun;7(3):218-35.
  15. Proc Nutr Soc. 2002 May;61(2):181-5.
  16. Eur J Nutr. 2011 Nov 6. [Epub ahead of print]
  17. Nutr Rev. 2010 Nov;68(11):671-81.
  18. J Immunol. 2011 Nov 15;187(10):5114-22. Epub 2011 Oct 12.


Zach Bennett said...

Shouldn't your table be based somewhat on daily caloric intake and body weight? If it is, where is the data? Are you saying a 200 pound male needs the exact same as a 150 pound female?

David Pender said...

I came here to ask the exact same question as Zach Bennett did . . . will check back for an answer.

Life Extension said...

Zach Bennett - We base our suggestions to support the best anti-aging effects (based on research), not on body weight. So, yes these dosing suggestions are for adults of different body weights. Blood testing helps to determine nutrient deficiencies and optimal dosing amounts.

Anonymous said...

Many deficiencies cannot be identified by lab testing but by symptoms, which will also have to be considered on a case by case basis.

Life Extension said...

Anonymous- Thanks for chiming in!

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