Using the Recommended Dietary Allowance for Individuals

Individuals should use the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) as the target for their daily nutrient intakes. For example, to increase their vitamin C consumption to the RDA level (75 mg/day for women and 90 mg/day for men), adults can increase their intake of foods that provide ascorbate, such as citrus fruits, broccoli, or tomatoes. An 8-ounce glass of orange juice (from frozen concentrate) supplies about 100 mg of vitamin C (USDA, 1991).

Using the Adequate Intake for Individuals

For the nutrients in this report, vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium, Adequate Intakes (AIs) are set only for infants. Human milk content for these nutrients should supply the AI, so it is not necessary to plan additional sources of intakes for infants exclusively fed human milk. Likewise, for these nutrients, an infant formula with a nutrient profile similar to human milk (after adjustment for any differences in bioavailability) should supply adequate nutrients for an infant.


The Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) may be used as a basis for planning or making recommendations for the nutrient intakes of groups. The mean intake of a group should be high enough so that only a small percentage of the group would have intakes below the EAR, thus indicating a low prevalence of dietary inadequacy.

Using the EAR and Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) in planning intakes of groups involves a number of key decisions and the analysis of issues such as the following:

  • determination of the current nutrient intake distribution of the group of interest;

  • an evaluation of interventions to shift the current distribution, if necessary, so there is an acceptably low prevalence of intakes below the EAR, as well as an acceptably low prevalence of intakes above the UL (some interventions may increase the intake of those most at risk of inadequacy—usually by individual intervention—whereas others may increase the intake of the entire group [e.g., fortification of the food supply]); and

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