Dietary Reference Intake: We all have one thing in common: we all eat. What, when, why, and how much we eat varies from person to person. We often choose products based on taste, familiarity, cost, and availability. What we eat is not necessarily what our body needs. A nutrient-deficient diet is a diet that can lead to health and weight problems. Fortunately, guidelines have create to help us decide what foods to eat to provide our body with the nutrients it needs.
Research to determine the proper amount of nutrients for health began in the 1940s when men were not drafted into the army during World War II due to the impact of malnutrition on their health. The first Food and Nutrition Board creates to evaluate large populations’ nutrition. Since then, the Food and Nutrition Council has gone through many changes and has issued comprehensive nutritional guidelines for maintaining good health and preventing disease.
There are Four Types of Dietary Reference Intake Values:
- Estimated Average Needs (EAR): Estimated nutrient intake meets the needs of 50% of people of a given gender and age group.
- Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA): These are usually the best-known recommendations. They sit to provide sufficient nutrients to meet the needs of almost all people (about 97%) of this sex and age group. Many people often mistakenly refer to them as “recommended daily allowance” and believe that their goal is to reach the recommended daily allowance every day. It does not intend to guide a person’s daily needs. The RDAs create standards for food assistance programs, interpret records of human food consumption, and develop guidelines for food labelling.
- Adequate Intake (AI): Nutrients for which there is insufficient information to establish an EAR.
- Tolerable Upper Limits (Upper Levels or UL): The maximum daily intake is unlikely to cause adverse health effects in almost all people (97-98%).
Due to the complexity of dietary analysis, DRIs have mainly use by researchers and nutritionists. Programs used for diet analysis are now available to the public. You can trail everything you eat and drink on any of the websites that offer one of these programs, and you will get detailed information about your intake compared to DRI. When tracking your diet, you want to use a website that uses the USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference as a source of nutritional information.
You don’t have to follow each nutrient’s recommendations every day of the week. So don’t worry if you skip or miss a nutrient from time to time. But when you’re constantly struggling to stick to your recommendations, it’s best to work with a healthcare professional.
What are the Dietary Guidelines for Americans?
Eating a healthy diet can be as simple as following guidelines like the Dietary Recommendations for Americans. These guidelines have update and published every five years since 1980 by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA). The purpose of these recommendations is to promote health and reduce the risk of serious chronic diseases in people aged two years and older. The Guidelines also discuss ways to maintain a healthy weight.
The Main Recommendations of Dietary Reference Intake are:
Sufficient Food within Caloric Requirements
- Eat various nutrient-rich foods and beverages from and among the major food groups while choosing foods that limit your saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt, and alcohol intake.
- Meet the recommended intake for energy needs by following a balanced diet. Such as the USDA Nutrition Guide or the DASH Eating Plan.
- To keep your body weight in a healthy range, balance calories from food and drinks with calories you expend.
- To avoid abnormal weight gain over time. Slightly reduce the calories in your food and drinks and increase your physical activity.
- Get regular physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviours to improve health, psychological well-being, and healthy body weight.
- Get fit by including cardio, stretching exercises for flexibility, weight training or callisthenics for muscular strength and endurance.
Food Groups to Encourage
- Eat enough fruits and vegetables respecting your energy needs. For a reference intake of 2,000 calories, two glasses of fruit and 2½ glasses of vegetables per day are recommended, more or less depending on your caloric intake.
- Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. In particular, choose from the five vegetable subgroups (dark green, orange, legumes, starches, and other vegetables) several times a week.
- Eat three or more ounces of whole grains a day and get the rest of the recommended grains from fortified or whole grains. Generally, at least half of the grains should be whole grains.
- Consume 3 cups a day of skim or skim milk or similar dairy products.
- Those who consume alcoholic drinks should do so reasonably and moderately. Up to one drink for women and two drinks per day for men.
- Certain people should not drink alcoholic beverages, including those who cannot limit their alcohol intake, women of childbearing age who may become pregnant, pregnant and lactating women, children and adolescents. People taking medications that may interact with alcohol. And people with specific problems—medical conditions.
Dietary assessment of groups or individuals should base on usual (long-term) intake estimates. EAR is an appropriate DRI to use when evaluating groups and individuals. AI is of limited value in assessing nutritional adequacy and cannot estimate the prevalence of malnutrition.