Recommended Daily Allowance and Daily Recommended Intake
RDA, or Recommended Daily Allowances, is a table for how much of each type of food a person should eat to stay healthy. Officially, the RDA table has been replaced by the DRI, or Daily Recommended Intake, table, although essentially they are the same thing – a guide line for consumers to eat healthy by.
The DRI and RDA tables were both created by the US Department of Agriculture, which has been a source of controversy over the years because some critics charge the USDA with bloating the tables with levels of food intake that are not needed in order to make consumers buy more agricultural products, such as dairy and wheat. However, despite the controversy, the RDA and DRI tables remain a helpful guide to eating healthy.
The use of the RDA and DRI tables can be found on most packaged food products, which is required by law for most food sold in the US. Foods are divided into basic nutritional categories such as fat, protein, sodium, vitamins, cholesterol, iron, calcium and carbohydrates. Food products then must list the percentage of each of these nutritional categories that the product has in it based on the recommended serving size and and a 2,000 calorie a day diet. For example, a box of macaroni and cheese with a serving size of 2.5 oz contains 29 percent of the recommended allowance of fat, 5 percent of the recommended allowance of cholesterol, 16 percent of the recommended allowance of carbohydrate, and so on.
In addition to common nutritional components such as carbohydrates and protein, the DRI tables also track what is acceptable levels of gasses, elements water, etc. for people to ingest. Levels of elements such as arsenic, boron, magnesium and others are covered in the DRI tables.
The tables are also divided into age groups so that intake levels reflect what is healthy for average for people of various size and age. A child or elderly person has different nutritional needs and so the tables reflect that.
For a complete view of the USDA DRI tables follow the link to the USDA site below.