UK nutrient guidelines
In the UK, most of the estimated dietary requirements for particular groups of the population are based on advice that was published by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA) in the 1991 report Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom. These requirements are known as the Dietary Reference Values (DRVs) which include nutrients protein, vitamins and minerals. Since this time, COMA has been superseded by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN). From time to time, SACN has reviewed the evidence for particular nutrients but in most cases has not identified a need to change the DRVs. DRVs are important for ensuring adequate intakes of energy and nutrients throughout life. Many health concerns and illnesses may be linked to malnutrition and the DRVs assist in preventing this.
There are three types of estimates:
Lower Reference Nutrient Intakes (LRNIs) – The amount of a nutrient that is enough for only the small number of people who have low requirements (2.5%). The majority of people need more. LRNI is also a useful measure of nutritional inadequacy.
Estimated Average Requirements (EARs)
This is an estimate of the average requirement for energy or a nutrient. Approximately 50% of a group of people will require less energy or nutrient, and 50% will require more. EAR is used for energy. The EARs for energy are based on the present lifestyles and activity levels of the UK population.
Reference Nutrient Intakes (RNIs)
The RNI is the amount of a nutrient that is enough to ensure that the needs of nearly all the group (97.5%) are being met. The RNI is used for recommendations on protein, vitamins and minerals. RNI is often used as a reference amount for population groups.
Additionally there are also guidelines for:
Is used where there is insufficient evidence to set an EAR, RNI or LRNI. The safe intake is the amount judged to be enough for almost everyone, but below a level that could have undesirable effects.
Tolerable upper intake level (UL)
The highest level of nutrient intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects for almost all individuals in the general population. As intake increases above the UL, the risk of adverse effects increases.
EU nutrient guidelines
The EU also have a set of maximum nutrient guidelines for an average adult which are called Reference Intakes (RI’s). These are used across Europe and are printed on food packaging to allow you to see directly the amount of energy or nutrient contained in the portion you are eating or drinking to help manage dietary intake. Reference intakes have now replaced the previous Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) due to EU regulation which came into force on 13 December 2014. Values for RI’s and GDA’s are exactly the same.
Reference Intakes – (RIs) are a means of communicating maximum recommended nutrient intake to the public.
Sources of information
Dietary Reference Values For Food Energy And Nutrients For The United Kingdom. H.M.S.O., 1991. Print.
“Nutrient Requirements – British Nutrition Foundation”. Nutrition.org.uk. Web. 22 July 2016.