One recommendation that Europe got dead wrong

I’m usually pretty complimentary toward my colleagues in Europe. One might even say that I have a tendency to gush.

Really, though, I’m just giving credit where it’s due. They do a lot of groundbreaking nutritional research across the pond. (More than you’ll ever see stateside, that’s for sure.) And that deserves some recognition.

But it doesn’t mean that they don’t also have their flaws. Believe me, they do. And their Codex is one of them.

Basically, this set of standards defines what can and cannot be sold–covering both quality and quantity–as a nutritional supplement. It’s extremely strict, to say the least. Which is why many nutritional supplements we have access to here aren’t even available in Europe.

The latest piece of news I came across offers a perfect illustration of this iron-fisted rule. So allow me to share a few of the more ridiculous details with you now.

It seems that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) finally got around to releasing their official recommendations for vitamin C intake. Mind you, these opinions took years to form. Which, frankly, makes them all the more absurd.

The EFSA’s special panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) decided that, on average, an adult man only needs 90 mg of vitamin C per day. (With 110 mg constituting an “ideal” daily dose.)

Their recommendation for women falls just below this, at an average of 80 mg per day. (Optimal dose, 95mg–with an additional 10 mg and 60 mg daily for pregnant and lactating women, respectively.)

For infants aged 7-11 months, and toddlers up to age 3, the NDA recommends 20 mg daily. Teens aged 15 and up should get 90 to 100 mg depending on their gender.

Yes, after years of deliberation, that’s the best they could come up with. I kid you not.

If we used every other mammal on the planet as a point of reference, a creature of our size, on average, would require 3,000 mg of vitamin C daily to stay healthy. (Keeping in mind, of course, that humans are one of only two types of mammals that do NOT produce their own vitamin C.)

So how on Earth did they come up with 100 mg?!? Did they even look at the work of Linus Pauling? (You know, the genius who won the Noble Prize in Chemistry for his work in this very field?)

Oh, and it gets worse. Turns out, they didn’t even bother to set a formal dietary reference value (DRV)–what we call an RDA or RDI in the United States.

Why? Because they “decided that the available data on the effects of vitamin C intake and/or status on scurvy, blood lipids and blood pressure, common cold, and on chronic disease-related outcomes (cardiovascular disease-related, cancer, vision-related, mortality) could not be used as criteria to derive the requirement for vitamin C.”

So one can only guess as to what criteria they used to make their recommendation. Because obviously, they weren’t the least bit interested in actual science.

My American audience is used to me complaining about the FDA, CDC, AHA, and so on. The “horsemen of the apocalypse,” as I like to call them. The growing conglomerate of powerful agencies responsible for undermining the wellness of this nation in the name of “public health.”

But I think it’s time to add an international acronym to my little blacklist. Because these “recommendations” are a farce, full stop.

Starling, Shane. “EFSA issues intake advice for vitamin C but stops short of DRV.” 6 Nov 2013.