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Recommendation Systems

You will find in conjunction with the recommendations for the dose levels of particular vitamins and minerals, an array of letters. Yes, they seem to confuse everyone! This section is to assist you to understand what all these letters mean.


This stands for the Recommended Daily Allowance of a particular nutrient. This is a guideline on the minimum amount of a nutrient that we need on a daily basis. They were originally established in 1941 and they are changed regularly as knowledge increases, though they tend to be on the conservative side, to say the least. They are now often called DRIs or the Daily Reference Intake. However, you will find the term RDA is still frequently used, including on this site.

The RDA figures are estimates, particular requirements will be less or more depending on individual factors, such as, environmental influences, genetics, and presence or absence of a disease process. In Europe and the U.K. the RNI Reference Nutrient intake is used. No wonder people become confused.


The Daily Reference Intake (RDI) started in 1997 when the US Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine began issuing new standards for each vitamin and mineral. The DRI is based on four measurements: the estimated average requirement (EAR), the RDA, the adequate intake (AI), and the tolerable upper intake level. The new RDI replaces the older RDAs.


Reference Nutrient Intake is used in the UK and Europe. It is the amount of the nutrient deemed by the government to be sufficient to meet the needs of almost all healthy people including those with higher than average requirements. It is roughly the same as the RDA.


The EAR is the Estimated Average Requirement and is the amount of the nutrient considered sufficient to meet the needs of an average healthy person.


The LRNI is the Lower Reference Nutrient Intake. It represents that amount of the nutrient almost certain to be inadequate.


The SAI is the Safe Adequate Intake. It is the figure given for vitamins and minerals that do not have a set RDA, RNI or EAR value. It indicates what is considered to be a safe level of intake on a daily basis.

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Bland, J. 1996, Contemporary Nutrition. J & B Associates.

Davies, S. and A. Stewart., 1997, Nutritional Medicine. Pan.

Holden, S., Hudson, K., Tilman, J. & D. Wolf, 2003, The Ultimate Guide to Health from Nature. Asrolog Publication.

Pressman, A. and S. Buff, 2000, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. (2nd Ed.) Alpha Books.

Soothill, R. 1996, The Choice Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. A Choice Book Publication.

Sullivan, K. 2002, Vitamins and Minerals: A Practical Approach to a Health Diet and Safe Supplementation. Harper Collins.

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It is certainly important to know what these abbreviations and terms mean. However, we are not confident that the levels of utilization they suggest are actually particularly valuable.

Many factors combine to result in significant variation between each individual's requirements for many vitamin and mineral nutrients and this can be a problem when levels become unbalanced and suboptimized.


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