each reference value has been derived and its relevance for different applications. For the purposes of nutrition labeling, the committee’s task was to provide guidance for the development of a reference number that could be used by an individual to compare the nutrient content of food items within a food type and to place purchase decisions in the context of the food’s contribution to his or her total daily diet. The best point of comparison for the nutrient contribution of a particular food to an individual’s total nutrient needs is the individual’s nutrient requirement. It is almost impossible to know the true requirement of any one individual, but a reasonable estimate can be found in the median of the distribution of requirements, or EAR. The EAR is a daily intake value defined by carefully selected measures of adequacy based on biochemical, functional, or other markers or indicators. As such the EAR represents the best current scientific estimate of a reference value for nutrient intake based on experimental and clinical studies that have defined nutrient deficiency, health promotion, and disease prevention requirements. The EAR, as its name implies, is an estimate of the average of a distribution of the requirements for the nutrient in question. For those nutrients for which the distributions of nutrient requirements for particular life stage and gender groups have been characterized, the best, most representative estimate of an individual’s requirement is the EAR for the life stage and gender group to which he or she belongs. Levels of intake above or below the EAR will have a greater likelihood of systematically over- or underestimating an individual’s requirement. The RDA is derived from the EAR and is defined to be 2 standard deviations above the EAR on the nutrient requirement distribution curve. Therefore the RDA is not the best estimate of an individual’s nutrient requirement. For these reasons the committee recommends the use of a population-weighted EAR, when an EAR has been set for a nutrient, as the basis for the DV. This approach should provide the most accurate reference value for the majority of the population.

Developing Reference Values Not Based on the Estimated Average Requirement

The DRIs are a set of reference values that vary with each nutrient depending upon the scientific information available at the time the DRIs were developed for that particular nutrient (see Chapter 4). If there was insufficient scientific evidence to develop an EAR for a nutrient for all life stage and gender groups, an AI, an AMDR, both an EAR or AI and an AMDR, or no reference values were devel-

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