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What Is the Recommended Daily Intake?

Nutrition labels display the daily values for many different kinds of vitamins and nutrients.
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  • Written By: T. Alaine
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 28 August 2014
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The Recommended Daily Intake suggests how much of a given nutrient a person should consume in one day. There are Recommended Daily Intake figures for macro and micronutrients as well as for the total number of calories a person should consume. Figures are calculated to suit the needs of the majority of the population, and they are used to determine the Percent Daily Values that appear on the nutrition labels of packaged foods.

Slightly different wording is sometimes used for Recommended Daily Intake. Reference Daily Intake and Recommended Daily Value both refer to the same calculations as Recommended Daily Intake. All of these terms refer to a number that is specifically calculated for every nutrient and represents how much of that nutrient an average body needs per day to function at its best. The Recommended Daily Intake is a benchmark that helps people know if they are consuming too much or too little of a nutrient each day.

There are Recommended Daily Intakes for macronutrients, such as carbohydrates, fiber, fats and proteins as well as for micronutrients, which are vitamins and minerals. When it comes to calorie consumption, the key values are the Recommended Daily Intakes for macronutrients, because they are the nutrients that provide energy, or calories. Most people, except perhaps those with an illness or deficiency of some kind, find that eating a generally healthy and diverse diet will provide all of the micronutrients they need without careful monitoring of the Recommended Daily Intake values.

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Perhaps the most important adaptations of the Recommended Daily Intake figures are the Percent Daily Values (%DV). The Percent Daily Values are found on nutrition labels and help consumers assess how many nutrients a food item contributes to the total amount of nutrients that should be consumed in a day. Each of these values is based on a presumed daily intake of 2,000 calories, which might be more or less than a particular individual consumes in a day. Even though there are variants in these values, the Percent Daily Value gives a general idea of how nutrient rich a food is. For example, if a food has a Percent Daily Value of 75% for vitamin C, then one can assume that food makes a substantial contribution to his or her personal Daily Recommended Intake for vitamin C.

When it comes to Recommended Daily Intake, there is no absolute answer for everyone. Understanding the figures will one help generally determine whether his or her diet is meeting the nutritional needs of the body. It is not necessary for one to strive to exactly meet the Recommended Daily Intake for every single nutrient; it is much more helpful to use these figures exactly how they are described — as recommendations.

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