Food & Nutrition

What Is Adequate Intake?

The Adequate Intake is the daily average nutrient intake level. It is based on approximations of mean nutrient intake level by a group of healthy people. In other words, the average nutrient intake of healthy people is assumed to be adequate for the population’s requirement. An Adequate Intake is established when there is no sufficient science-based evidence to determine an Estimated Average Requirement (EAR).

With the help of Adequate Intake values, individuals can meet their nutrient needs, which is required to maintain good health status, proper growth and development and overall nutritional well-being. Thus, the Adequate Intake acts as a guide for people to understand their approximate daily nutrient needs and to prevent the onset of nutrient deficiencies. Though in some population groups the intake of nutrients may exceed the average requirement.

Importance of Adequate Intake

  • Adequate Intake becomes a vital guide in the absence of enough scientific evidence to establish an Estimated Average Requirement and set an RDA.
  • Adequate Intake for a particular nutrient is determined after a lot of research and observation.
  • For example, the Adequate Intake for young infants is based on the mean nutrient intake supplied by human breast milk for full-term healthy infants, who are breastfed exclusively.
  • For adults, the estimated dietary intake of a nutrient is observed in the healthy population to decide the Adequate Intake. The Adequate Intake for calcium is based on calcium requirement, calcium retention and bone mineral density and bone mineral content changes in women.
  • Hence, in the absence of RDA, Adequate Intake can be used as a target for a person’s intake and to meet the body’s requirement for a particular nutrient.
  • When RDA is not available, an Adequate Intake is expected to meet the requirements of individuals of the same gender and life-stage group. (1)
Learn More:
What is Dietary Reference Intake (DRI)
What is Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)
What is Tolerable Upper Intake Level or Upper Limit (UL)
What is Estimated Average Requirement – Estimated Value of Nutrient Intake

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