Does your body need one milligram of vitamin B-6 or two? How many milligrams of niacin does it need each day? How about thiamin and vitamin C? These types of questions may not keep you up at night, but the scientists at the Food and Nutrition Board live for them. They pour over scientific research from around the world to bring you those figures called RDAs, or recommended dietary allowances. back to top
What is an RDA?
The RDA is the amount of a protein
, vitamin, or mineral that the Food and Nutrition Board scientists believe you need every day. The amount is calculated for girls your age, as well as for kids, boys, and adults. If the scientists aren't sure exactly how much of a specific nutrient a girl your age needs, they use the term adequate intake
, or AI, instead of RDA. An AI is an estimate
, but you can use it like an RDA. back to top
Why should I pay attention to RDAs?
RDAs and AIs are guidelines for the healthiest daily diet. But they aren't written in stone. You may not get all of your RDAs in one day. But that's OK if everything adds up by the end of a week. The easiest way to get all of your RDAs is to eat a variety of foods. Think in color
when making food choices and you'll probably do fine. For a more scientific approach to food choices, check out MyPyramid
. Perhaps the easiest trick is to read the nutrition facts label
on most food packages. The label includes the % daily value
, which tells you what percent of your total RDA is in each serving. These are all just tools to help you make healthy choices
. back to top
How do I use RDAs?
Find your age at the top of the RDA or AI for Girls chart
. Then look down the chart to see how much of each nutrient you need in a day and which foods are good sources. back to top
Learn more about:
how to keep a food diary