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Recommended Dietary Allowance

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirement of nearly all (97 to 98 percent) healthy individuals in a particular life stage and gender group (see Figure 1-1). The RDA is intended to be used as a goal for daily intake by individuals. The process for setting the RDA is described below; it depends on being able to set an Estimated Average Requirement (EAR). That is, if an EAR cannot be set, no RDA will be set.

Estimated Average Requirement

The Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) is the daily intake value that is estimated to meet the requirement, as defined by the specified indicator or criterion of adequacy, of half of the apparently healthy individuals in a life stage or gender group (see Figure 1-1). A normal or symmetrical distribution (median and mean are simi-

FIGURE 1-1 Dietary reference intakes. This figure shows that the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) is the intake at which the risk of inadequacy is 0.5 (50 percent) to an individual. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is the intake at which the risk of inadequacy is very small—only 0.02 to 0.03 (2 to 3 percent). The Adequate Intake (AI) does not bear a consistent relationship to the EAR or the RDA because it is set without the estimate of the requirement. At intakes between the RDA and the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL), the risks of inadequacy and of excess are both close to 0. At intakes above the UL, the risk of adverse effects may increase.

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