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DRV and RDI: What do They Mean?

To be able to read nutrition labels, you need to understand the lingo they use. Two major terms are DRV"Daily Reference Value," or "Daily Value" sometimes called "... More and RDI"Reference Daily Intake:" see post..



DRV, or Daily Reference Value, is the amount of a nutrientTwo categories: micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and m... More the FDA and most research suggests someone should consume daily. The only nutrients excluded from the DRV are vitamins and minerals, which are always shown in a separate box from the main nutrients, and foods for which a DRV is not established.

So Vitamin A, Calcium, and Magnesium do not have Daily Reference Values because they are vitamins and minerals, and things like sugar and omega 3s would simply have a blank in the DRV column, because there is no specific amount that people are recommended to exceed or stay under.

See also: How to Understand and Apply the Nutrition Facts


A major mistake many people make when reading nutrition labels is reading too much into the DRV. Besides sodium and cholesterol, which doesn’t change much as far as daily minimum and maximum limit per person, macronutrientsSubstances required in large amounts to survive. They are pr... More like protein, fat, and carbohydrate needs are vastly different for each individual.

At the very bottom or end of each label is a disclaimer that %DV, or Percent Daily Values, are based on a 2,000 calorieA unit commonly used to measure the amount of energy that is... More diet. Say your food has 27 grams of carbs. Unless you require 2,000 calories a day, and 60% of your calories are from carbs, which is highly unlikely based on pure probability, those 27 grams are not 9% of your daily carbohydrate needs. That percent could be way lower or way higher.

See also: Get to Know Your Nutrients


The nutrition label of a "superfood" supplement
As you can see, individual foods do not have daily values



RDI, or Reference Daily Intake, is very similar to the DRV. The key difference, however, is that Daily Reference Value refers to nutrients the average person eats on a meal to meal basis, like sodium and carbs. The Reference Daily Intake is the dosage of a vitamin or mineral that is suggested to be consumed per day for your body to keep functioning healthily.

See also: How are Nutrients and Calories Rounded?


Unlike the DRV, the RDI is very helpful with estimating how much of a micronutrient you are getting. The majority of the population needs roughly the same amount of most vitamins and minerals, since our bodies requires them in such small amounts. Fun fact: if a teaspoon of raw Vitamin A is about 5 grams, humans only need about a tablespoonful every 46 years or so. However, like most other supplements, your body can only handle it in small and frequent dosages.


The nutrition label of an energy drink
Note the “%DV” column, the RDI percentages for vitamins, and the 2,000 calorie disclaimer


To Summarize

The DRV hugely depends on the consumer and their age, height, weight, activity levels, gender, etc. Do not get caught up in the percentages. If you want, there are many online calorie and macronutrient calculators that can give you a rough estimate of how much you should be eating of what foods.


Concerning vitamins and minerals, though, the Reference Daily Intake is a good benchmark for most people.

See also: What’s on the Nutrition Label?


Thanks for reading!





Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Title 21, Chapter I, Subchapter B, Part 101, February, 2016. Accessed October 20, 2016.

Biotest: Supplements for Serious Athletes. Superfood, 2016. Accessed October 20, 2016.

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