Applying dietary reference intakes (DRIs) in professional settings

Health care providers, institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes, governments and industry use DRIs to develop nutrition plans and programs for individuals and groups.

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Important principles underlying the DRIs

They are standards for the general population:

  • The DRIs aren't meant for people with acute or chronic disease or those who may be malnourished or nutrient deficient.

They refer to average daily nutrient intake over time:

  • Some variation in nutrient intakes from day to day is normal and expected. The DRI values represent long-term average intake.

They are set based on a variety of health indicators and outcomes:

  • The specific indicator used as the basis of each DRI value varies according to the nutrient and the type of value.

How to apply the DRIs in a professional setting

You can use DRIs to help with a number of different activities, including:

  • planning diets
  • assessing people's nutrient intakes
  • developing appropriate nutrition education materials for individuals or population groups

Professionals can refer to 'Applying the Dietary Reference Intakes' for guidance on how to use and interpret the DRI values. This chapter appears in the report, Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements, published by the National Academy of Sciences. The full report is available to download in PDF form.

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