Requirements and Recommendations

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According to the new definition of the expert panel appointed by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science (IOM), dietary reference intakes (DRIs) are defined as a set of reference values for nutrient intake, and include the estimated average requirement (EAR), recommended dietary allowance (RDA), adequate intake (AI), and tolerable upper intake level (UL). EAR refers to the average daily intake value of a nutrient that is estimated to fulfill the needs of healthy people in a particular lifestage or group. RDA refers to the minimum daily intake that fulfills the need of almost all healthy people in a particular lifestage or group. AI refers to the observed intake of a particular group of healthy people, and is used when there is lack of scientific experimentation for the determination of the EAR or the RDA. UL refers to the maximum daily intake level of a nutrient that is not likely to pose an adverse health effect for almost all people.

The DRIs for carbohydrate consumption of individual groups and lifestages are outlined in Table 2. These values are based on the average minimum amount of glucose needed for brain function. A UL for carbohydrates was not set because no studies have shown that excessive consumption of carbohydrates has a detrimental effect on health. Based on the dilutional effect of added sugars on micronutri-ents, the expert panel suggests a maximal intake of less than 25% of energy from added sugars. Total sugar intake can be decreased by limiting foods high in added sugars and consuming naturally occurring sugar products, like milk, dairy products, and fruit.

The IOM does not specify dietary requirements or recommendations for NSP consumption, but has provided recommended intakes for fiber, which includes NSP. The DRIs for total fiber consumption of individual groups and lifestages are outlined in Table 3. It has not been shown that a high fiber intake has a harmful effect in healthy individuals. Therefore, a UL for fiber has not been set.

There is insufficient evidence to support a recommendation by the IOM for the consumption of low-GI foods or the replacement of high-GI foods, like bread and potatoes. Although several studies propose adverse effects of high-GI carbohydrates and beneficial effects of low-GI foods, a recommendation on consumption of low-GI foods is a major dietary change that requires substantial scientific evidence. Therefore, a UL based on GI is not set.

The 1998 report of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the role of carbohydrates in human nutrition recommends the consumption of at least 55% of total energy in the form of carbohydrates from a variety of sources. The committee proposes that the majority of carbohydrates consumed should originate from NSP, principally from

Table 2 Carbohydrate requirements and recommendations (DRIs)

Age group/Life stage





Infants (0-6 months) Infants (6-12 months) Children (1-18 years) Adults (>18 years) Pregnancy Lactation

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