Dietary Reference Intakes Linda Gallagher Olsen MEd RD

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Dietary reference intakes (DRIs) represent the new approach adopted by the Food and Nutrition Board to provide quantitative estimates of nutrient intakes for use in a variety of settings. The DRIs are the result of a vast expansion in our understanding of the roles of nutrients and other food components that impact long-term health, going beyond deficiency states; they expand and replace the series of Recommended Dietary Allowances that have been published since 1941 by the Food and Nutrition Board. The DRIs consist of four reference intakes:

1. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): a nutrient intake level used as a goal for the individual; a level sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97 to 98%) healthy individuals in the group. The population recommendations are broken into gender, life cycle groups (infants, elderly, etc) with more specific age subgroups (see Tables 5-1 and 5-4).

2. Estimated Average Requirement (EAR): a nutrient intake level estimated to meet the requirements of half of the healthy individuals in a group. Used to assess the intake adequacy of population groups. The estimated average requirement is used along with knowledge of the distribution of requirements to develop RDAs; RDA is calculated as EAR + 2 standard deviations (see Table 5-5).

Table 5-1. Food and Nutrition Board, National Academy of Sciences: National Research Council Recommended Dietary Allowances (Revised 1989)

Designed for the maintenance of good nutrition of practically all healthy people in the United States

Age lyr) or Weight• Height• Protein Vlt A Vlt E Vlt K Vlt c l!on zinc Iodine Selenium Category Condition (kg) (lb) (cm) (in) (g) (pg RE)' (mg u TE)> (pg) (mgj (mg) (mg) (pg) (pg)


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