other approaches are used to find the ninety-seventh to ninety-eighth percentile to set the RDA.
The RDA for a nutrient is a value to be used as a goal for dietary intake for the healthy individual. As discussed in Chapter 14, the RDA is not intended to be used to assess the diets of either individuals or groups or to plan diets for groups. Only if intakes have been observed for a large number of days (i.e., usual intake) and are at or above the RDA, or if observed intakes for fewer days are well above the RDA, should one have a high level of confidence that the intake is adequate (see Box S-2). The EAR is also used as the basis to address diets of groups.
The Adequate Intake (AI) is set instead of an RDA if sufficient scientific evidence is not available to calculate an EAR. The main intended use of the AI is as a goal for the nutrient intake of individuals. For example, the AI for young infants, for whom human milk is the recommended sole source of food for most nutrients up through the first 4 to 6 months of age, is based on the daily mean nutrient intake supplied by human milk for apparently healthy, full-term infants receiving human milk. The goal may be different for infants consuming infant formula for which the bioavailability of a nutrient may be different from that in human milk, such as iron, which is high in infant formula due to its lower bioavailability than that found in human milk.
Although both the RDA and AI are to be used as a goal for intake by individuals, the RDA differs from the AI. Intake of the RDA for a nutrient is expected to meet the needs of 97 to 98 percent of the apparently healthy individuals in a life stage and gender group (see Figure S-1). However, because no distribution of requirements is known for nutrients with an AI, it is not possible to know what percentage of individuals are covered by the AI. The AI for a nutrient is expected to exceed the RDA for that nutrient, and thus it should cover the needs of more than 97 to 98 percent of the individuals. The degree to which an AI exceeds the RDA is likely to differ among nutrients and population groups.
For people who have diseases that increase specific nutrient requirements or who have other special health needs, the RDA and