This approach differs somewhat from that used by the World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization, and International Atomic Energy Agency (WHO/FAO/IAEA) Expert Consultation on Trace Elements in Human Nutrition and Health (WHO, 1996). That publication uses the term basal requirement to indicate the level of intake needed to prevent pathologically relevant and clinically detectable signs of a dietary inadequacy. The term normative requirement indicates the level of intake sufficient to maintain a desirable body store or reserve. In developing RDAs and AIs, emphasis is placed instead on the reasons underlying the choice of the criterion of nutritional adequacy used to establish the requirement. They have not been designated as basal or normative.

Unless otherwise stated, all values given for RDAs, AIs, and EARs represent the quantity of the nutrient or food component to be supplied by foods from a diet similar to those consumed in Canada and the United States. If the food source of a nutrient is very different (as in the diets of some ethnic groups) or if the source is supplements, adjustments may have to be made for differences in nutrient bioavailability. When this is an issue, it is discussed for the specific nutrient in the section “Special Considerations.”

RDAs and AIs are levels of intake recommended for individuals. They should minimize the risk of developing a condition that is associated with the nutrient in question and that has a negative functional outcome. The DRIs apply to the apparently healthy general population. Meeting the recommended intakes for vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and carotenoids would not necessarily provide enough for individuals who are already malnourished, nor would they be adequate for certain disease states marked by increased requirements. Qualified medical and nutrition personnel must tailor recommendations for individuals who are known to have diseases that greatly increase requirements or who are at risk for developing adverse effects associated with higher intakes. Although the RDA or AI may serve as the basis for such guidance, qualified personnel should make necessary adaptations for specific situations.


Each type of Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) refers to average daily nutrient intake of individuals over time. In most cases, the amount taken from day to day may vary substantially without ill effect.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement