Dietary Reference Intakes for Macronutrients

Type: Consensus Study
Topics: Biomedical and Health Research, Children and Families, Diseases, Food and Nutrition, Public Health, Select Populations and Health Equity, Women's Health
Board: Food and Nutrition Board

Activity Description

Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids was released on September 5, 2002. 

The Food and Nutrition Board's (FNB's) Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) Standing Committee established the Panel on Macronutrients to review and evaluate the scientific literature and interpret the depth of current knowledge on protein, amino acids, dietary fat and individual fatty acids (such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid, and other specific fatty acids), phopholipids, cholesterol, complex carbohydrates, simple sugars, dietary fiber, energy intake (including the contribution of alcohol), and energy expenditure in humans throughout the life span.

Specifically, the panel of experts

  1. reviewed the scientific literature regarding these macronutrients and selected components of foods that may influence the bioavailability of these nutrients;
  2. developed dietary reference levels of intake of these selected macronutrients where there is sufficient data available to do so, including consideration of levels of intake that are compatible with good nutrition throughout the lifespan and that may decrease risk of developmental abnormalities and chronic disease;
  3. addressed the safety of high intakes of all macronutrients reviewed, and, when appropriate, determine tolerable upper intake levels in specific population subgroups;
  4. provided guidance on the use of macronutrient recommendations and reference intakes for individuals in addressing questions of applicability to assessing intakes of populations and in formulation of appropriate dietary standards, including research needed on which to base such policy decisions.

This report is the fifth in the DRI series--a series designed to replace and expand upon the former Recommended Dietary Allowances of the Food and Nutrition Board and thus will provide guidance to federal agencies about nutrient needs of the U.S. population.

The Panel on Macronutrients analyzed the scientific literature regarding human requirements for macronutrients throughout the lifespan, including the relationship to chronic diseases and data on dietary intake. Where the scientific evidence is sufficient, the report recommends for each nutrient: (1) the recommended dietary allowance, which meets the needs of almost all individuals in the group and is based on estimates of average requirement, or in some cases an adequate intake, which is expected to meet the needs of almost all individuals in a group but for which estimates of average requirements are not available; (2) the estimated average requirement, which is the intake level at which the data indicate that the needs for 50% of those consuming it will not be met, and (3) the tolerable upper intake level, which is the maximum intake that is unlikely to pose risks of adverse health effects in almost all individuals in the group.