Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) Overview

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is the amount of nutrients we should consume each day to stay healthy. There is a vitamin deficiency in the standard American diet, so it’s important to get our daily nutrients.

In this article, I’ll explain how RDA works, the different categories, and RDA recommendations.

If you’re interested in learning more about nutrition, then you’ll love this article!

Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) Overview

Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) Overview

In 1997 the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) created a newer and more extensive way of looking at RDAs. They created dietary reference intakes (DRIs) which categorize intakes into four different definitions.

  • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): the average level of daily dietary intake which is sufficient to meet nutrient requirements in 97-98% of healthy persons in particular life stages and gender groups.
  • Adequate Intake (AI): the recommended intake based on experimentally or observed approximations of nutrient intake by groups of healthy individuals, which are assumed adequate. These are used when RDA’s can’t be determined.
  • Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL): a highest level of nutrient intake daily that will not pose a risk of adverse effects for most people in the population. As you increase intake above the UL your risk for adverse reactions increases. This is the major difference between the DRI’s and the old RDA’s as they never offered the highest level that could be consumed.
  • Estimated Average Requirement (EAR): used as the basis for RDA and is a value of daily nutrient intake which is estimated to meet requirements for half of healthy people in a gender group or life stage.

Which DRI Definition Is Right For Me? 

The average individual will use the RDA as a guideline for intake of daily vitamins and elements. The difference is there isn’t always an RDA available for every vitamin and element anymore and, in that case, an individual should look at the AI for their daily recommendation.

Also, we should be aware of the upper limit for each vitamin and element to avoid adverse reactions or toxicity.  As always, you should consult with your doctor before increasing any dose of vitamins or elements in your diet.

Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) Overview

Converting Micrograms, Milligrams & International Units

There are many different units of measurement when it comes to comparing charts and product labels. Therefore, we have provided you with some conversions along with explanations of certain measurements you will find.

  • mcg = microgram
  • mg = milligram
    • To convert mcg to mg divide the mcg by 1000. For example: 400 mcg/1000 = 0.4 mg.
    • To convert mg to mcg multiply the mg’s by 1000. For example 0.4 mg x 1000 = 400 mcg.
  • IU = international units
    • You cannot convert IU to micrograms or milligrams because they are two different types of measurement. International units measure the potency of a vitamin or element while micrograms and milligrams measure the mass or weight.

DRIs For Vitamins

Those values in bold represent the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs). Those in regular type are Adequate Intakes (AIs) because RDAs are not available for those vitamins.

This chart is based on recommendations from the USDA.

GroupA (mcg)C (mg)D (mcg)E (mg)K mcg)B6 (mg)B12 (mcg)
DRI CategoryRDARDAAIRDAAIRDARDA
Infants* 0-6 mo 7-12 mo400 50040 505 54 52.0 2.50.1 0.30.4 0.5
Children 1-3 y 4-8 y300 40015 255 56 730 550.5 0.60.9 1.2
Males 9-13 y 14-18 y 19-30 y 31-50 y 51-70 y 70+ y600 900 900 900 900 90045 65 75 75 75 755 5 5 5 10 1511 15 15 15 15 1560 75 120 120 120 1201.0 1.3 1.3 1.3 1.7 1.71.8 2.4 2.4 2.4 2.4 2.4
Females 9-13 y 14-18 y 19-30 y 31-50 y 51-70 y 70+ y600 700 700 700 700 70045 65 75 75 75 755 5 5 5 10 1511 15 15 15 15 1560 75 90 90 90 901.0 1.2 1.3 1.3 1.5 1.51.8 2.4 2.4 2.4 2.4 2.4
Pregnancy 14-18 y 19-30 y 31-50 y750 770 77080 85 855 5 515 15 1575 90 901.9 1.9 1.92.6 2.6 2.6
Lactation 14-18 y 19-30 y 31-50 y1,200 1,300 1,300115 120 1205 5 519 19 1975 90 902.0 2.0 2.02.8 2.8 2.8

*All the infant information is based upon AIs as there is not sufficient evidence to provide RDAs for infants.

GroupThiamin (mg)Riboflavin (mg)Niacin (mg)Folate (mcg)Pantothenic Acid (mg)Biotin (mcg)Choline (mg)
RDARDARDARDARDAAIAIAI
Infants* 0-6 mo 7-12 mo0.2 0.30.3 0.42 465 851.7 1.85 6125 150
Children 1-3 y 4-8 y0.5 0.60.5 0.66 8150 2002 38 12200 250
Males 9-13 y 14-18 y 19-30 y 31-50 y 51-70 y 70+ y0.9 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.20.9 1.3 1.3 1.3 1.3 1.312 16 16 16 16 16300 400 400 400 400 4004 5 5 5 5 520 25 30 30 30 30375 550 550 550 500 500
Females 9-13 y 14-18 y 19-30 y 31-50 y 51-70 y 70+ y0.9 1.0 1.1 1.1 1.1 1.10.9 1.0 1.1 1.1 1.1 1.112 14 14 14 14 14300 400 400 400 400 4004 5 5 5 5 520 25 30 30 30 30375 400 425 425 425 425
Pregnancy 14-18 y 19-30 y 31-50 y1.4 1.4 1.41.4 1.4 1.418 18 18600 600 6006 6 630 30 30450 450 450
Lactation 14-18 y 19-30 y 31-50 y1.4 1.4 1.41.6 1.6 1.617 17 17500 500 5007 7 735 35 35550 550 550

*All the infant information is based upon AIs as there is not sufficient evidence to provide RDAs for infants.

DRIs For Elements

Those values in bold represent the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs).  Those in regular type are Adequate Intakes (AIs) because RDAs aren’t available for those vitamins.

This chart is based on recommendations from the USDA.

GroupsCalcium (mg)Chromium (mcg)Copper (mcg)Fluoride (mg)Iodine (mcg)Iron(mg)Magnesium (mg)
DRI CategoryAIAIRDAAIRDARDARDA
Infants* 0-6 mo 7-12 mo210 2700.2 5.5200 2200.01 0.5110 1300.27 1130 75
Children 1-3 y 4-8 y500 80011 15340 4400.7 190 9070 1080 130
Males 9-13 y 14-18 y 19-30 y 31-50 y 51-70 y 70+ y1,300 1,300 1,000 1,000 1,200 1,20025 35 35 35 30 30700 890 900 900 900 9002 3 4 4 4 4120 150 150 150 150 1508 11 8 8 8 8240 410 400 420 420 420
Females 9-13 y 14-18 y 19-30 y 31-50 y 51-70 y 70+ y1,300 1,300 1,000 1,000 1,200 1,20021 24 25 25 20 20700 890 900 900 900 9002 3 3 3 3 3120 150 150 150 150 1508 15 18 18 8 8240 360 310 320 320 320
Pregnancy 14-18 y 19-30 y 31-50 y1,300 1,000 1,00029 30 301,000 1,000 1,0003 3 3220 220 22027 27 27400 350 360
Lactation 14-18 y 19-30 y 31-50 y1,300 1,000 1,00044 45 451,300 1,300 1,3003 3 3290 290 29010 9 9360 310 320

*All the infant information is based upon AIs as there is not sufficient evidence to provide RDAs for infants.

GroupManganese (mg)Molybdenum (mcg)Phosphorus (mg)Selenium (mcg)Zinc (mg)Potassium (g/d)Sodium (g/d)Chloride (g/d)
DRI CategoryAIAIRDARDARDAAIAIAI
Infants* 0-6 mo 7-12 mo0.003 0.62 3100 27515 202 30.4 0.70.12 0.370.18 0.57
Children 1-3 y 4-8 y1.2 1.517 22460 50020 303 53.0 3.81.0 1.21.5 1.9
Males 9-13 y 14-18 y 19-30 y 31-50 y 51-70 y 70+ y1.9 2.2 2.3 2.3 2.3 2.334 43 45 45 45 451,250 1,250 700 700 700 70040 55 55 55 55 558 11 11 11 11 114.5 4.7 4.7 4.7 4.7 4.71.5 1.5 1.5 1.5 1.3 1.22.3 2.3 2.3 2.3 2.0 1.8
Females 9-13 y 14-18 y 19-30 y 31-50 y 51-70 y 70+ y1.6 1.6 1.8 1.8 1.8 1.834 43 45 45 45 451,250 1.250 700 700 700 70040 55 55 55 55 558 9 8 8 8 84.5 4.7 4.7 4.7 4.7 4.71.5 1.5 1.5 1.5 1.3 1.22.3 2.3 2.3 2.3 2.0 1.8
Pregnancy 14-18 y 19-30 y 31-50 y2.0 2.0 2.050 50 501,250 700 70060 60 6012 11 114.7 4.7 4.71.5 1.5 1.52.3 2.3 2.3
Lactation 14-18 y 19-50 y2.6 2.6 2.650 50 501,250 700 70070 70 7013 12 125.1 5.1 5.11.5 1.5 1.52.3 2.3 2.3

*All the infant information is based upon AIs as there is not sufficient evidence to provide RDAs for infants.

Upper Intake Levels (UL) For Vitamins

Not Determined (ND) means the tolerable upper intake level was not able to be determined due to a lack of available data of effects for that age group and due to concern about the lack of ability to be able to handle excess amounts. Therefore, the source of those particular vitamins should be through food to prevent high intake.

This chart is based on USDA recommendations.

GroupA (mcg)C (mg)D (mcg)E (mg)K (mcg)B6 (mg)B12 (mcg)
Infants 0-6 mo 7-12 mo600 300ND ND25 25ND NDND NDND NDND ND
Children 1-3 y 4-8 y600 900400 65050 50200 300ND ND30 40ND ND
Males, Females 9-13 y 14-18 y 19-70 y 70+ y1,700 2,800 3,000 3,0001,200 1,800 2,000 2,00050 50 50 50600 800 1,000 1,000ND ND ND ND60 80 100 100ND ND ND ND
Pregnancy 14-18 y 19-50 y2,800 3,0001,800 2,00050 50800 1,000ND ND80 100ND ND
Lactation 14-18 y 19-50 y2,800 3,0001,800 2,00050 50800 1,000ND ND80 100ND ND
GroupThiamin (mg)Riboflavin (mg)Niacin (mg)Folate (mcg)Pantothenic Acid (mg)Biotin (mcg)Choline (mg)
Infants 0-6 mo 7-12 moND NDND NDND NDND NDND NDND NDND ND
Children 1-3 y 4-8 yND NDND ND10 15300 400ND NDND ND1.0 1.0
Males, Females 9-13 y 14-18 y 19-70 y 70+ yND ND ND NDND ND ND ND20 30 35 35600 800 1,000 1,000ND ND ND NDND ND ND ND2.0 3.0 3.5 3.5
Pregnancy 14-18 y 19-50 yND NDND ND30 35800 1,000ND NDND ND3.0 3.5
Lactation 14-18 y 19-50 yND NDND ND30 35800 1,000ND NDND ND30 35

Upper Intake Levels (UL) For Elements

Not Determined (ND) means the tolerable upper intake level was not able to be determined due to a lack of available data of effects for that age group and due to concern about the lack of ability to be able to handle excess amounts. Therefore, the source of those particular vitamins should be through food to prevent high intake.

This chart is based on USDA recommendations.

GroupsCalcium (mg)Chromium (mcg)Copper (mcg)Fluoride (mg)Iodine (mcg)Iron (mg)Magnesium (mg)
Infants 0-6 mo 7-12 moND NDND NDND ND0.7 0.9ND ND40 40ND ND
Children 1-3 y 4-8 y2.5 2.5ND ND1,000 3,0001.3 2.2200 30040 4065 110
Males, Females 9-13 y 14-18 y 19-70 y 70+ y2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5ND ND ND ND5,000 8,000 10,000D 10,00010 10 10 10600 900 1,100 1,10040 45 45 45350 350 350 350
Pregnancy 14-18 y 19-50 y2.5 2.5ND ND8,000 10,00010 10900 1,10045 45350 350
Lactation 14-18 y 19-50 y2.5 2.5ND ND8,000 10,00010 10900 1,10045 45350 350
GroupManganese (mg)Molybdenum (mcg)Phosphorus (mg)Selenium (mcg)Zinc (mg)Sodium (g/d)Chloride (g/d)
Infants 0-6 mo 7-12 moND NDND NDND ND45 604 4ND NDND ND
Children 1-3 y 4-8 y2 3300 6003 390 1507 121.5 1.92.3 2.9
Males, Females 9-13 y 14-18 y 19-70 y 70+ y6 9 11 111,100 1,700 2,000 2,004 4 4 3280 400 400 40023 34 40 402.2 2.3 2.3 2.33.4 3.6 3.6 3.6
Pregnancy 14-18 y 19-50 y9 111,700 2,0003.5 3.5400 40034 402.3 3.63.6 3.6
Lactation 14-18 y 19-50 y9 111,700 2,0004 4400 40034 402.3 2.33.6 3.6

Julie C. Guider MyGoodGut

Medically reviewed by Julie Guider, M.D.

Dr. Julie Guider earned her medical degree from Louisiana State University School of Medicine. She completed residency in internal medicine at the University of Virginia. She completed her general gastroenterology and advanced endoscopy fellowships at University of Texas-Houston. She is a member of several national GI societies including the AGA, ACG, and ASGE as well as state and local medical societies.