When I read about vitamins and minerals, I see reference to RDA, DRI, EAR, UL and AI. Which should I care about?

2 min read

The Food and Nutrition Board along with the Institute of Medicine have worked together to provide reference tables for all micronutrients in our diet. What are micronutrients, you ask? It’s those nutrients that we need in our diet in small amounts, hence the name ‘micro’. If you still have no idea what I’m talking about then it’s things like the entire B-vitamin complex (thiamin [B1], riboflavin [B2], niacin [B3], vitamin B6, folate, biotin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B12), vitamin C and vitamins A, D, E and K. This also includes several key minerals we hear a good bit about such as calcium, sodium, chloride, iron, magnesium, copper, zinc, etc. A full report of these values can be located at the National Academies of Science website (http://www.nap.edu). Collectively, this report is referred to as the Dietary Reference Intake (for short it’s DRI). This system has been put into place to provide recommended intakes of the micronutrients to prevent deficiency. As you have noticed, the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) consists of four categories: a) the RDA or Recommended Daily Allowances, b) AI or Adequate Intake, c) EAR or Estimated Average Requirement and d) UL or Tolerable Upper Limit. Why not just use one? The easiest answer is that a constant power struggle exists so they can’t settle on one. A more thought-out reason is because these values exist for EVERYONE. While healthy, normal folks like us make up an overwhelming number of people who use them, physicians, dietitians, etc. can also use them for many specialized sick and diseased populations.

The Recommended Daily Allowances or RDA were developed to provide a dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the requirements for 98% of the healthy individuals. So the shortest answer to the question lies with the RDAs. Make sure your daily diet is providing 100% of posted RDAs and within a 98% chance you are going to be OK. What if no RDA has been or can be established? Well this is where the others come into play. Estimated Average Requirement or EAR has been established to satisfy the needs of 50% of individuals within a particular group (could be pregnant women, ethnic group, aging, children, etc.). Adequate Intake or AI is used when no RDA has been determined. Upper Tolerable Limit or UL is the known maximum recommended intake that individuals could consume without the risk of adverse effects. So there you have it. How you decide to use them is up to you. Personally I would go with the RDAs. If you are an exercising individual that lives a fairly busy life and you may not exactly eat a great diet day in and day out, I would find a multi-vitamin you like and take it every day with food. The downside of not having enough is much worse that having too much. Overall the DRIs vary among gender, age, etc. and represent what is needed for normal individuals. As physical activity or health status change, so do your daily requirements of vitamins and minerals.

The post When I read about vitamins and minerals, I see reference to RDA, DRI, EAR, UL and AI. Which should I care about? appeared first on 1st Phorm.

Chad Kerksick PhD
Chad Kerksick PhD



Also in Articles

Top 3 ways to Improve Flexibility and Mobility
Top 3 ways to Improve Flexibility and Mobility

10 min read

The most important aspects are following a good nutrition plan, working out consistently, drinking water, getting quality sleep, and supplementing where needed to support our lifestyle and goals. 

That's not anything you don't know. And in today's fitness world, the workout piece seems to get the most attention.

I put this blog together to cover a topic that doesn't get enough attention and is very important for your results. That is [...]

Read More
8 Ways to Increase Consistency
8 Ways to Increase Consistency

8 min read

For most people, the hardest part of working out is … working out.

That is working out consistently. Whether it be getting to the gym on a consistent basis or heading downstairs for an at-home workout, the hardest part is simply working out consistently.

How many of us think we need more time when what […]

Read More
5 Tips To Get Back On Track
5 Tips To Get Back On Track

7 min read

We have all been there before.

Crushing our fitness goals, day after day. Then something happens.

We lose motivation ... Some life event comes up ... Or maybe the Labor Day weekend trip to the lake pops up [...]

Read More

Join the Legion of Boom