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Food Labels and the FDA

Learn how to use food labels to monitor and control the nutrition content of your diet.

In this article, you will find:

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Food Labels and the FDA

Reference Daily Intake(RDI) and Percent Daily Value (%DV)
Food labels provide information on the nutritional value of food products and compares them to the standards established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). RDI is the number amount recommended for each nutrient in daily consumption. %DV represents the amount of the nutrients a food provides of the days total RDI. Food labels have recently been updated to have even more useful information regarding content. The label has everything important about the food—how big a serving is, how many calories, fats, saturated fats, carbohydrates including sugars and fiber, protein, and vitamin and mineral content it contains. The content is listed not only in gram amount, but also as a percent of the recommended amount (%DV) for an average 2,000-calorie diet based on 60 percent energy from carbohydrates, 10 percent from protein, and 30 percent from fats. (Note these are higher in fat content and lower in protein than the recommended athletic diet.) This 2,000-calorie diet is an established norm that is the basis for the RDI (formerly called the RDA), nutrient values recommended for the average American man and woman.

To compare the FDA's recommended diet with that recommended for you as a healthy athletic woman, as described in the previous section, you should double the amount of protein, lower the amount of fat, and increase the amount of calcium by half. Regarding vitamin and mineral recommendations, the FDA's RDIs are slightly low for folate, iron, and calcium. As is shown in the following chart, this can be corrected by taking a daily multivitamin. If you eat a well-balanced diet, a regular multivitamin will do fine, or you can choose from the many brands of multivitamins marketed for women, which have slightly more iron, folate, and calcium, or multivitamins marketed for "stress," or "performance," which have increased amounts of B vitamins. Being aware of recommended doses not only keeps you healthy, but also will prevent toxic vitamin overdoses.

Recommended Vitamin and Mineral Amounts for Active Women, Content of "Centrum Performance" Multivitamin, and Maximum Healthy Dose

    Recommended In Centrum Maximum Dose
Fat-soluble vitamins1 Vitamin A 5,000 IU 5,000 IU 10,000 IU
Vitamin K 90 mcg 253 4
Vitamin E 30 IU (9 mg) 30 IU 1,000 mg
Vitamin D 400 IU 400 IU 2,000 IU
Water-soluble Vitamins Vitamin C 75 mg 60 mg 2 g
Thiamin 1.5 mg 1.5 mg 4
Riboflavin 1.7 mg 1.7 mg 4
Niacin 20 mg 20 mg 35 mg
B Vitamins B6 50 mg 2 mg 200 mg
Folate 400 mcg 400 mcg 1,000 mcg
B12 50 mcg 6 mcg 100 mcg
Biotin 300 mcg 30 mcg 10 mg
Pantothenic Acid 10 mg 10 mg 10 g
Minerals Calcium2 1,000 mg2 162 mg2 2,500 mg
Magnesium 600 mg 100 mg 4
Iron 18 mg 18 mg 45 mg
Zinc 15 mg 15 mg 40 mg

1Fat-soluble vitamins are stored by the body and can be overdosed (vs. water-soluble).

2The standards for calcium intake and content of Centrum are lower than the female athlete's needs.

3Do not supplement extra vitamin K.

4Not established.

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