Recommended Dietary Allowances

Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) are the levels of intake of essential nutrients that, on the basis of scientific knowledge, are judged by the Food and Nutrition Board to be adequate to meet the known nutrient needs of practically all healthy persons.

The first edition of the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) was published in 1943 during World War II with the objective of “providing standards to serve as a goal for good nutrition.” It defined, in “accordance with newer information, the recommended daily allowances for the various dietary essentials for people of different ages” (NRC, 1943). The origin of the RDAs a has been described in detail by the chairman of the First Committee on Recommended Dietary Allowances (Roberts, 1958). The initial publication has been revised at regular intervals; this is the tenth edition.

From their original application as a guide for advising “on nutrition problems in connection with national defense,” RDAs have come to serve other purposes: for planning and procuring food supplies for population subgroups; for interpreting food consumption records of individuals and populations; for establishing standards for food assistance programs; for evaluating the adequacy of food supplies in meeting national nutritional needs; for designing nutrition education programs; for developing new products in industry; and for establishing guidelines for nutrition labeling of foods.