Dietary reference intakes (DRIs), recommended dietary allowances (RDAs), and daily values (DVs)

The dietary reference intakes (DRIs) and the recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) are the amounts of selected nutrients that are considered adequate to meet the nutrient needs of most healthy people. The DRI/RDA for any nutrient may vary by age and sex. For example, the DRI/RDA for iron for a 15-year-old boy is 11 mg; for a 15-year-old girl, 15 mg; and for a 35-year-old man, 8 mg.

The daily value (DV) is derived from the 1968 RDA and from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. For some nutrients, a DRI/RDA does not exist. In this case, the DV uses a figure known as the daily reference values (DRVs) taken from the Dietary Guidelines. Cholesterol and saturated fat are examples of nutrients that do not have a DRI/RDA but do have a DV.

The DV helps you understand the nutrient content of food by providing you with the percent of the daily value found in one serving of the food. For example, the DV for calcium is 1,000 mg. If one serving of a food contains 260 mg of calcium, the label would say that it contains a DV of 26% for calcium. In other words, one serving gives you 26% of the daily value for calcium.

See an illustration of the daily value on a Nutrition Facts label.

For more information on the DRI/RDA of foods, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Center Web site at http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/etext/000105.html.

Last Updated: February 6, 2009

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