Dietary Reference Standards
The first attempt to set standards for nutrient intakes was by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council of the USA in 1941, which pub-lished recommended daily allowances (RDAs) in 1943 to “provide standards to serve as a goal for good nutrition.” The first UK RDAs followed in 1950, pub-lished by the British Medical Association, and many other countries and international agencies now publish dietary standards that are intended to allow the adequacy of the nutrient intakes of groups or populations to be assessed by comparison with the standards.
As the amount known about human requirements and nutrient functions has increased, so too has the size of the documents describing the recommenda-tions, from a mere six pages dealing with 10 nutrients in 1943 to the series of weighty books, each dealing with the dietary reference intakes (DRIs) of only a few of more than 30 nutrients, published by the Institute of Medicine of the USA. Furthermore, continuing research and the development of more informed interpretations of the expanding body of data avail-able necessitate the regular revision and updating of the recommendations; thus, the “standards” of the past become obsolete as they are replaced by new figures based on new data or new interpretations of existing data.
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