Healthy lifestyle 10 Week Course [4th edition]

RDAs or DRIs – what’s the difference?

When you start looking into the world of personal nutrition and exploring what you’re supposed to eat and how much, it can quickly become quite confusing. Part of the problem is that different experts and resources use different language. So let’s try to break it down for you so you can make the best decisions for yourself and your health.

Recommended Daily Allowance

RDA stands for Recommended Daily Allowance. The Institute of Medicine uses this terminology. The United States Food and Drug Administration, FDA, used to use the term as well, though you’d likely see it as US RDA. It’s essentially a recommendation for the amount of nutrients, including vitamins and minerals that you need. It’s a term that is losing favor as it’s replaced by other more specific terms and measurements.

Daily Value

DV stands for Daily Value and it’s the term that the FDA now uses instead of RDA. Confused yet? They changed it to reflect food labeling. For example, if you read the side of a can of soup, you might see 50 percent of your DV when talking about sodium or sugar. It’s a tool to help you compare labels and in theory help you make sure you’re getting enough nutrients and not too much sugar, sodium, and fat.

Adequate intake

Adequate intake is a measurement of vitamins and minerals, although you don’t see this very often. Created by the Institute of Medicine, they’re used in cases where no RDA is established. However, when you look at vitamins and supplements, you’ll likely see the next one on this list.

Tolerable Upper Intake Levels

UL, or Tolerable Upper Intake Levels, is defined as the maximum level of total chronic daily intake of a nutrient from all sources that is unlikely to create a risk of adverse health effects to humans. Read the label on a multivitamin and you’ll see both UL and DV as a percentage. For example, vitamin A in a traditional and popular over-the-counter multi says that it has 2500 UL and 50% DV per serving.

Daily Reference Intake

Daily Reference Intake is a calculation created by the IOM, Institute of Medicine, that looks at several factors including RDA, AI and a measurement that we haven’t talked about, EAR. You just aren’t likely to see EAR unless you become a nutritionist. EAR stands for Estimated Average Requirement.

So how do you compare? What information is useful? If you’re eating whole foods, there is no label so there’s nothing to compare. The only time this information becomes truly useful is when you’re looking at the label on a product and making sure that you’re getting more nutrients than junk. Also, it’s useful if you’re comparing supplements. Otherwise, strive to eat vegetables, nuts and seeds, meat and some fruit. Choose a variety and enjoy.

Next time we’ll talk about the importance of diet when it comes to reducing inflammation.

All the best,


Healthy Lifestyle Magazine