What are Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) and how are they determined?

The DRIs are set by the IOM's FNB and can be accessed from FNIC's DRI Reports. The DRIs are a common set of reference values for a healthy population based on the relationships between nutrient intakes and health or the prevention of disease. DRI is a generic term for a set of nutrient reference values that include the EAR, the RDA, the AI and the UL.

  • The EAR is the average daily nutrient intake level estimated to meet the requirement of half the healthy individuals in a particular life stage and gender group. In the case of energy, an EER is provided. The EER is the average dietary energy intake that is predicted to maintain energy balance in a healthy adult of a defined age, gender, weight, height and level of physical activity consistent with good health.
  • The RDA is the average daily dietary nutrient intake level sufficient to meet the nutrient requirement of nearly all (97 to 98 percent) healthy individuals in a particular life stage and gender group. The process for setting the RDA depends on being able to set an EAR and estimating the variance of the requirement itself. Note that if an EAR cannot be set due to limitations of the data available, no RDA will be set.
  • The AI is used when an RDA cannot be determined. The AI amount is a recommended average daily intake level based on observed or experimentally determined estimates of nutrient intake by apparently healthy people. There is much less certainty about an AI value than about an RDA value.
  • The UL is the highest level of daily nutrient intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse effects for almost all people. As intake increases above the UL, the potential risk of adverse effects may increase.
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