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Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) Replace RDAs

The Dietary Reference Intakes(DRIs) are nutrient-based reference values that expand and replace the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) published since 1941 by the Food and Nutrient Board of the National Academy of Sciences. The DRIs represent a shift in emphasis from preventing nutritional deficiency to decreasing the risk of chronic disease. When adequate scientific evidence exists, the DRIs include levels that may help to prevent diet-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and osteoporosis.

The DRIs include RDAs as goals for daily intake by individuals but present three new categories of reference values:


Estimated average requirements (EAR): the intake that meets the estimated needs of 50% of the individuals in a specific age and gender group. This figure is used to help develop the RDA and may also be used to evaluate the adequacy of nutrient intakes for population groups.


Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): The intake that meets the estimated nutrient need of nearly all (97-98%) healthy individuals in a specific age and gender group. The RDA value will help guide individuals to achieve adequate nutrient intake.


Adequate Intake (AI): Used when sufficient scientific evidence is not available to calculate an estimated average requirement. The AI value is used as a goal for individual dietary intake when an RDA cannot be determined. The DRI committee has set AIs for calcium, vitamin D and fluoride.


Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL): The maximum intake that it unlikely to pose risks of adverse health effects in nearly all individuals in a specific group. As intake increases above the UL, the risk of adverse effects increases. The DRI committee has set Uls for many nutrients, including vitamin D, niacin, and vitamin B6. For some nutrients, there may be insufficient data to develop a UL. That doesn't mean that the nutrient isn't potentially harmful at high levels of intake.


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