You’re definitely on the right track.
A few tweaks or points:
I’d replace “starving” with “deficiency.” Starving usually implies a shortage of energy/calories.
Looking at your chart, where you say, “DRI,” many are probably thinking of the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance.) The DRI encompasses several figures:
- The RDA (Recommended)
- The AI (Adequate Intake, lower than the RDA)
- The UL (Upper Limit, higher than the RDA.)
The RDA is the lowest level that keeps about 98% of the population free of any gross adverse effect of deficiency. If they don’t have enough data to pin down an RDA, then they give they estimate the AI - a nutritional safety level in the absence of specific knowledge.
Either way, these numbers are establishing minimums to avoid symptoms of deficiency. They’re not designed or intended to be a target for optimum health. (Although this is slowly changing; recommendation boards in several countries are slowly beginning to move towards pushing the numbers away from the minima and towards what make for a healthier population.)
The UL is a level that has some negative consequence - but the consequence varies. Sometimes it’s extremely minor, other times it’s potentially very serious.
I like the examples of niacin and manganese.
Niacin is a water-soluble B vitamin (aka B3). The RDA for men is 16 mg, based on prevention of deficiency. As a water-soluble vitamin, it’s easily flushed out of your blood and should be replaced daily, no matter how much you take in. The UL 35 mg. Here’s where it gets interesting… the primary adverse effect of going over 35 mg is the possibility of “niacin flush…” a temporary reddening or itching of the skin when your capillaries expand. Most people quickly acclimate to a higher intake of niacin, unless the dose becomes very, very high. Meanwhile, medical literature has been finding more and more areas where additional niacin is helpful as a preventative or a treatment for a variety of diseases, including control of high blood cholesterol. To treat high cholesterol, it is administered at up to 1500 mg per day! At this dose, most people still acclimate and stop getting the niacin flush, but a small fraction have a recurring problem with it and discontinue treatment. The others seem to have no adverse effect. Bear this in mind when considering if RDA + 40% is an appropriate safety margin for niacin.
Now think about manganese, a naturally-occurring mineral. It may be in your water, as well as your food. The AI for manganese for adults is 2.3 mg. The UL is 11 mg. There are definite toxicity effects from getting a massive dose of manganese, and they’re well-known from people who get environmental exposure (for example, a welder who breathes in a lot of manganese.) But those amounts are wildly higher than 11 mg. You can get 200 or 300 mg of manganese per day and have no effect for months or years. Why the 11 mg limit?
Because manganese tends to accumulate in the brain. Your body can dispose of manganese in parts of the body - like the bloodstream - but once it gets into the brain, it tends to stay put. And when it builds up, it leads to a variety of serious neurological conditions - but it can take decades to build up to that point. So the 11 mg UL is based not on what level might hurt you today or tomorrow - it’s a limit that’s intended to keep you safe over a lifetime of food (and water) consumption. And we do not have any evidence for benefits to magnesium beyond the very small amount that the body needs - so there’s no known benefit from getting more than 2.3 mg. Why take any risk?
These two examples, niacin and manganese, are interesting to me because of their wildly different profiles - one has benefits from exceeding the RDA, and almost no risk. The upper limit is placed well below levels known to have health benefits, based on a minor but noticeable flush. The other has no benefit from exceeding the AI, and enormous long-term risk. If you exceed the UL for niacin by just a little, you might notice a flush in just an hour, but there’s no real health risk; if you exceed the the UL for manganese by a lot, you probably won’t notice a thing, but you’re playing a long-term game of Russian Roulette with debilitating mental disorders.
They’re also interesting because many health-oriented multivitamin formulas exceed the RDA for niacin (you can see why). At the same time, many contain no manganese, or very little. I take a very high-potency formula which provides 190 mg of niacin (950%!) - I never had a flush reaction and am comfortable with this. It also provides 1mg of manganese (50%), and sometimes I wish it didn’t even have that - because my DIY soylent is oat-based, and oats naturally contain a lot of manganese that the plant pulls from the soil. I get 6.28 mg from my oat flour, for a total of 7.28 mg - still less than the UL of 11 mg, but already at 317% of the AI. I wish it were lower, so I think I’m going to make alternate DIY recipes based on masa instead of oats, to alternate. (The other option is to use less oats and more maltodextrin, my recipe uses more oats than official Soylent.)
This might also suggest to you part of the reason why supps are not offered all individually. You need to do a lot of education on each vitamin and mineral if you really want to dial in your own - and it would be expensive to manage that many ingredients in the supply chain, both for you and the providers. But a good multivitamin mix will already take that knowledge into account - holding back on the risky stuff, and giving you extra of the beneficial stuff.
If you do decide to delve into each nutrient, I’m a big fan of the LPI Micronutrient Information Center site for good, well-referenced, accurate information. It’s an excellent starting point.