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What is a Nutrition Table?

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  • Written By: Shelby Miller
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 07 December 2016
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A nutrition table, labeled on food and beverage products as Nutrition Facts, details the nutritional content of the food inside the package according to a predetermined serving size. Nutrients represented on the table include the macronutrients — carbohydrates, fat, and protein — the micronutrients like vitamins and minerals, and the total calorie count as determined by the sum of calories from each macronutrient. These nutrients are expressed both in grams per serving and as a Percent Daily Value (PDV). PDV represents the percentage of the recommended amount of a nutrient to be consumed daily, per a 2,000-calorie diet, contained in a serving of the food or drink.

The macronutrients and micronutrients listed on the nutrition table are further broken down. Carbohydrates are subdivided into simple sugars, other carbohydrates, and dietary fiber. Fats are separated into saturated fats, unsaturated fats, trans fats, and dietary cholesterol. The predominant micronutrients listed are sodium and potassium, with other vitamin and mineral values listed at the bottom of the table.

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At the top of the table is listed the serving size of the food in the package, which may contain multiple serving sizes inside. The serving size is expressed in teaspoons, tablespoons, cups, or ounces. Below serving size are listed servings per container, and below this, calories per serving. At this point is where PDV is found adjacent to each listed nutrient. Each nutrient represented by the nutrition table is expressed as a percentage of daily recommended allowance as determined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

For example, if a beverage contains 35 milligrams of sodium, and the PDV is listed as one percent, then the daily recommended allowance of sodium is 3500 milligrams. The same goes for other nutrients considered to be high-risk if consumed in excess, such as fat and cholesterol: the number of grams per serving is accompanied by a PDV that expresses a limitation on how much of that nutrient a person should consume. Nutrients such as protein for which the daily requirements vary from person to person, however, are not accompanied by a PDV. Instead, only the value of grams per serving is listed.

Amounts of vitamins like C and K and minerals like iron and calcium are reported at the bottom of the nutrition table. These are not listed in micrograms or milligrams, but only as a PDV. If the table lists a 20 percent value for calcium, then the food supplies a fifth of the recommended daily requirement for calcium.

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