The term RDA or Recommended Dietary Allowance was first coined in 1941 as a standard of measurement for the nutritional requirements for populations. These standards have been updated regularly to include a measurement for individuals as well as population groups and to include a greater number of food groups and nutrients.
RDA is defined as the estimated nutritional requirement for a person or population to enable them to maintain good health. In other words, the estimated amount of nutrients that a person should consume on a daily basis in order for the body to function optimally and to prevent disease.
These nutrients include proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
How Is RDA Calculated?
The calculations that are used to determine the specific recommended allowance for a population group and therefore an adult is complex and differs for each nutrient. In essence, it is based on the Estimated Average Requirements (EAR) of a percentage of the population. It is important to note that these are estimated values and may differ between different population groups and individuals. The calculations are based on the average size and body weight of an adult but may differ according to age, gender, race and other factors.
For example, the RDA for protein is calculated as 0.8mg per kilogram of body weight per day. Once again, this is the estimated value for adults and may differ for age, gender and race. The estimated allowance for adult men is 46 grams per day whereas it is 36 grams for women. The RDA for protein for children between the ages of 7 and 9 years is 36 grams per day. In the UK, the RDA for protein is 0.75mg per kilogram of body weight.
Can An RDA Be Exceeded Or Be Deficient?
The Dietary Allowance establishes a standard for both deficiency and excess of a specific nutrient. The RDA should therefore not be exceeded but at the same time it is recommended to consume the recommended amount on a daily basis. It is possible to consume nutrients in excess to the extent that they may become harmful. In nutrition, this is referred to as the UL or the Tolerable Upper Intake Level. While consuming certain nutrients in excess of the RDA is not ideal, it is more important to avoid exceeding the UL. For example, the RDA for Vitamin D is 400-800 IU per day and the UL is 4,000 UI per day.
Who Calculates What Is RDA In Nutrition?
The Food And Nutrition Board of The National Research Council/National Academy of Science and Institute of Medicine are responsible for evaluating the RDA for specific nutrients relative to specific population groups according to age, gender and race.
Why Is RDA Important In Nutrition?
Nutrients are essential to ensuring optimal health and well being and the ability to measure the estimated amount of each nutrient that the body requires to maintain health is important. A balance of nutrients can help prevent a wide range of health conditions such as malnutrition, electrolyte imbalance, obesity, etc.