Dietary reference intakes tables: Overview

These tables provide dietary reference intakes for vitamins, elements (minerals) and macronutrients. The information is from the dietary reference intakes reports.

Estimated average requirement (EAR)
  • The EAR is the median daily intake value that is estimated to meet the requirement of half the individuals in a life-stage and sex group. At this level of intake, the other half of the individuals in the specified group wouldn't have their needs met.
  • The EAR is based on a specific criterion of adequacy, derived from a careful review of the literature.
  • The EAR is used to calculate the RDA. It is also used to assess the adequacy of nutrient intakes in a population, and can be used to plan the dietary intake of groups.
Recommended dietary allowance (RDA)
  • The RDA is the average daily dietary intake level that’s sufficient to meet the nutrient requirement of nearly all (97 to 98 percent) individuals in a particular life-stage and sex group.
  • The RDA is the goal for usual intake for an individual.
Adequate intake (AI)
  • The AI is the recommended average daily nutrient intake level based on observed or experimentally determined approximations or estimates of nutrient intake by a group (or groups) of people who are assumed to be maintaining an adequate nutritional state.
  • The AI is expected to meet or exceed the needs of most individuals in a specific life-stage and sex group.
  • An AI is derived if there isn’t sufficient scientific evidence available to establish an EAR on which to base an RDA.
  • When an RDA isn't available for a nutrient, the AI can be used as the goal for usual intake by an individual. The AI isn't equivalent to an RDA.
  • The AI for young infants is based on the estimated daily mean nutrient intake of healthy full-term infants who are exclusively breastfed.
Tolerable upper intake level (UL)
  • The UL is the highest average daily nutrient intake level likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects to almost all individuals in a given life-stage and sex group.
  • The UL is not a recommended level of intake.
  • As intake increases above the UL, the potential risk of adverse effects increases.
  • The UL is based on an indicator of adverse effect that is toxicological in nature, meaning that the effect is directly caused by the nutrient and can be prevented by maintaining intake below the UL.
  • The absence of a UL for a nutrient could reflect a lack of evidence rather than a lack of adverse effects, and therefore does not necessarily mean that excessive intake poses no risk.
Estimated energy requirement (EER)
  • An EER is the average dietary energy intake that is predicted to maintain energy balance in individuals of a defined age, sex, weight, height and level of physical activity. In children and pregnant and lactating women, the EER includes the needs associated with growth or milk production.
  • Relative body weight (that is, loss, stable, gain) is the preferred indicator of energy adequacy.
Acceptable macronutrient distribution range (AMDR)
  • The AMDR is a range of intake for a particular energy source (protein, fat, or carbohydrate), expressed as a percentage of total energy (kcal), that is associated with reduced risk of chronic disease while providing adequate intakes of essential nutrients.
Chronic disease risk reduction intake (CDRR)
  • The CDRR characterizes nutrient intakes that are expected to reduce the risk of developing a chronic disease.
  • To set a CDRR value, there must be both:
    • a sufficient level of evidence showing a causal relationship between a nutrient and chronic disease risk
    • sufficient information on different levels of intake of the nutrient and associated chronic disease risk
Total fibre
  • The sum of dietary fibre and functional fibre.
Dietary fibre
  • Non-digestible carbohydrates and lignin that are intrinsic and intact in plants.
  • Dietary fibre includes plant non-starch polysaccharides (for example, cellulose, pectin, gums, hemicellulose, β-glucans, and fibres contained in oat and wheat bran), plant carbohydrates that are not recovered by alcohol precipitation (for example, inulin, oligosaccharides, and fructans), lignin, and some resistant starch.
Functional fibre
  • Isolated non-digestible carbohydrates that have been shown to have beneficial physiological effects in humans.
  • Functional fibre includes isolated non-digestible plant (for example, resistant starch, pectin, and gums), animal (for example, chitin and chitosan), or commercially produced (for example, resistant starch, polydextrose, polyols, inulin, and indigestible dextrins) carbohydrate.
Physical activity level (PAL)
  • A measurement of the amount of energy used on physical activities.
  • The physical activity level categories used to develop equations to estimate energy requirement were defined as inactive, low active, active, and very active.
Vitamin E
  • The requirement for vitamin E is based on the 2R-stereoisomeric forms of alpha-tocopherol only. This includes RRR-alpha-tocopherol, which occurs naturally in foods, and the 2R-stereoisomeric forms (RRR- , RSR- , RRS- , and RSS- forms) that occur in supplements and fortified foods (all racemic alpha-tocopherol). Other forms of vitamin E do not contribute toward meeting the requirement.
  • Previously, vitamin E activity was reported in alpha-tocopherol equivalents (αTE), which included all forms of vitamin E. Alpha-tocopherol equivalents should be converted to milligrams of alpha-tocopherol.
  • The UL for vitamin E applies to any isomeric form of supplemental alpha-tocopherol.
Added sugars
  • Sugars and syrups that are added to foods during processing or preparation.

See definitions and conversion factors for further details.

body mass index
dietary folate equivalent
international unit
not applicable
not determinable
niacin equivalent
physical activity level
retinol activity equivalent
retinol equivalent
Reference heights and weights
  Reference height (m) Reference weight (kg) Reference height (inches) Reference weight (pounds)
2 to 6 mo 0.62 6 24 13
7 to 12 mo 0.71 9 28 20
1 to 3 y 0.86 12 34 27
4 to 8 y 1.15 20 45 44
9 to 13 y 1.44 36 57 79
14 to 18 y 1.74 61 68 134
19 to 30 y 1.77 70 70 154
9 to 13 y 1.44 37 57 81
14 to 18 y 1.63 54 64 119
19 to 30 y 1.63 57 64 126

Calculated from median height and median body mass index for ages 4 through 19 years from  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Growth Charts.

Since there is no evidence that weight should change with ageing if activity is maintained, the reference weights for adults 19 to 30 years of age apply to all adult age groups.

Unit conversion factors

Vitamin A

1 RAE = 1 μg retinol = 3.33 IU retinol
For preformed vitamin A, 1 RE = 1 RAE.


  • 1 RAE = 12 μg beta-carotene
  • 1 RAE = 24 μg alpha-carotene
  • 1 RAE = 24 μg beta-cryptoxanthin

To calculate RAE from RE of provitamin A carotenoids in foods, divide RE by 2.

Vitamin D

1 μg = 40 IU

Vitamin E

  • 1 mg alpha-tocopherol = 1.25 mg alpha-tocopherol equivalents (αTE)
  • 1 mg alpha-tocopherol = 1.49 IU d-alpha-tocopherol (natural, RRR form)
  • 1 mg alpha-tocopherol = 2.22 IU dl-alpha-tocopherol (synthetic, all racemic form)


  • 1 DFE = 1 μg food folate
  • 1 DFE = 0.6 μg folic acid from fortified food or from a supplement consumed with food
  • 1 DFE = 0.5 μg folic acid from a supplement taken on an empty stomach


  • 1 NE = 1 mg niacin
  • 1 NE = 60 mg tryptophan


1 g sodium = 2.53 g salt

Energy yield of macronutrients

  • Carbohydrate = 4 kcal /g
  • Protein = 4 kcal /g
  • Fat = 9 kcal /g
  • Alcohol = 7 kcal /g

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