Rob's Recommendations vs. U.S. government DRI

On the DIY Soylent website, it has you set up a nutrient profile. It sets your macros mostly based on age, sex, height, and weight. But micro nutrients are based on a DRI profile that you can choose. The main profiles that micros are based on U.S. government DRI or on Rob’s newest recommendations. Why the discrepancy. I would I’d be okay with either one but is there a consensus on which is better? The US govt one seems more popular but on the other hand Rob’s recommendation is based on the specific use of Soylent.

I say go with whichever one you feel more comfortable with. If you do decide to go with the DRI I suggest you go straight to the source and get it directly from the FDA.


Yeah, honestly it probably does not make a difference. Back when I was doing research for some of my own soylent recipes, I came across tons of data that did not agree with the government’s DRI. What it comes down to is, we don’t actually know much about nutrition at all. We know that the body needs some things or it gets sick. We know too much of some things can make you sick. (The actual amounts tend to vary widely person-to-person.) A lot of the recommended values and upper limits are based on observations of how much people have eaten of things without getting sick though, and there is often no data on how little it takes to be too low or how much to be too high. (For example, large numbers of vegans in the U.S. regularly consume 2 to 4 times the upper limit for manganese in the form of certain greens, but the number of reports of manganese poisoning from food sources is still zero.)

Perhaps the one difference is that while the FDA values (which come from the Institute of Medicine) are essentially guesses based on limited amounts of observation (generally self reported, which makes it even less reliable), Rob’s data is based on actual experimentation. That said, this early in the game I doubt there is enough evidence for any solid conclusions.

In other words, take your pick. It probably does not matter.


There’s an old thread on here somewhere (sorry, I don’t remember the name) that goes in depth on a few micronutrient levels. The gist of the thread was that there’s a lower level where you’ll start to see deficiencies, there’s an upper limit where it will become toxic, and a pretty wide range in-between where we often don’t know what the precise “best” amount is.

You could aim for the middle, aim for a level above where deficiencies manifest, or aim for a level below where overdoses manifest. Unless you’ve got data to back up a higher or lower amount, anything in that middle range should be fine.

Precisely, with the one caveat that we don’t actually know where the upper limit is where things become toxic for a vast majority of vitamins and minerals. Additionally, there is some subjectivity to where deficiencies start.

For metal minerals, upper limits are often based on toxicity level in elemental state (or non-organic compounds). This works great when considering safe amounts of supplements, but both magnesium and manganese are consumed in much higher amounts by vegans, but in organic compounds or at least compounds found in foods, and so far no ill effects have been reported. (Essentially, the compounds in natural food sources seem to have extremely low toxicity compared to elemental sources and compounds not found in food.)

On the other side, deficiency can be affected by normal intake levels. For example, some (probably not too bright) college students a couple decades ago decided to test the common wisdom that you can take any amount of vitamin C without any toxicity. They tested this fairly successfully, taking rather enormous amounts for several weeks (if I recall correctly). There was no ill side effect, except that when they stopped taking the supplements and went back to their normal vitamin C intake, they got scurvy. They had essentially conditioned their bodies to expect higher amounts of the vitamin, and when they went back to normal levels, they showed symptoms of deficiency. (I presume this eventually went away as their bodies readjusted to the lower levels.) The point here is, the minimum amount to avoid deficiency is somewhat subjective for vitamin C, and it is entirely possible that this is true of other vitamins or minerals as well. We can eliminate some (calcium, for example, is involved in processes, like energy production and bone growth, that are better understood and thus more predictable), but we know so little about exactly how the body uses most vitamins and minerals that it is very hard to predict, and even testing cannot rule out this kind of subjectivity for many.

For practical application though, if there are established upper and lower limits, staying somewhere in the middle of that range is probably safest until we have a better understanding of nutrition. If there are not established upper and/or lower limits, take a moderate approach and maybe even do a bit of research.