Dietary Reference Values (DRVs) for the United Kingdom
Have you ever wondered why dietary reference values are beneficial for dietitians and clients alike? Here’s what you need to know about the DRVs for the UK, and why they are important to understand when providing nutrition recommendations to clients.
Dietary reference values are a valuable tool for registered dietitians to stay up to date with current recommendations for healthy individuals. These guidelines can serve as a roadmap for how much of each nutrient a client may need and the nutrients that require close monitoring to ensure the right amount is consumed. But how can you, as a dietitian, use this information to help your clients improve their nutrition intake?
In this article, we are going to help you understand how to use DRVs to help provide nutrition recommendations for your clients.
Note: The following is only for dietary reference values UK.
What is a Dietary Reference Value?
For the UK, Dietary Reference Values (DRVs) for vitamins and minerals were recommended by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) as the gold standard for nutritional assessment in the nutrition and dietetics fields.
The DRVs are a helpful tool when analyzing your client’s dietary habits and creating a personalized meal plan to improve their lives, however, they are not necessarily meant to be nutrient goals for all patients. These values are established by the Food and Nutrition Board for the purpose of recommending dietary intake for healthy consumers based on their age and sex.
It is a general guideline to help individuals make healthy dietary choices on their own. Patients with a chronic disease or other individual factors like pregnancy will likely have different recommendations.
There are many sub-categories to help further ensure that your client is getting enough nutrients in their daily diet. Let’s briefly discuss each of these, and why they are important to know.
- RDA: The Recommended Dietary Allowance describes the average intake of specific nutrients that will meet the nutrient requirements of up to 98% of healthy individuals.
- AI: Adequate Intake is a standard by which nutritional adequacy is established when there is not a recommended dietary allowance in place for a specific nutrient.
- EAR: This stands for “Estimated Average Requirements”, and is the average daily level of nutrient intake estimated to meet the requirements of 50% of people.
- UL: The Total Upper Intake level is the total intake that has been established to likely not cause an adverse health effect.
- LRNI: Lower Reference Nutrient Intake for protein, vitamins, or minerals. An amount of the nutrient is enough for only a few people in a group with low needs.
- RNI: Reference Nutrient Intake for protein or a vitamin or mineral. An amount of the nutrient is enough, or more than enough, for about 97% of people in a group. If the average intake of a group is at RNI, then the risk of deficiency in the group is very small. They have been integrated based on age, gender, pregnancy, and lactation.
These values were developed to assess the populations' requirements, and can also be used to calculate individual requirements.
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Why are DRVs important?
If you are a dietitian in the UK, you should use reference values to measure and assess your clients' vitamins and mineral needs. Since every client is different, this information is important to gather so you can create curated dietary recommendations. For instance, if your client is deficient in certain nutrients, you can look at the corresponding DRVs and add extra supplements, whole foods, and/or enriched foods to their meal plan to help fill those gaps.
However, some nutrients can be harmful when consumed in excess. The protocol for intake assessments contains a four-step risk assessment process to determine the risk and/or benefit of nutrient recommendations.
This includes taking a full dietary history of folic acid/folate, iron, selenium, manganese, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin D, vitamin E, and β-carotene to examine the tolerable upper intake level of these nutrients. If your client is consuming too much of these nutrients, you can adjust as necessary.
TIP: We have added the DRVs of Macronutrients and Energy for the United Kingdom to Nutrium. Read more.
DRVs for fiber intake
There is strong scientific evidence that an increased intake of dietary fiber is associated with positive health outcomes, such as a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
In 2015, SACN updated its recommendations on daily fiber intake for the UK population. They are as follows:
Children aged 2 to 5
Children aged 5 to 11
Children aged 11 to 16
Adults aged 16+
Unfortunately, many people are deficient in fiber, with the average person in the UK consuming only 20 grams per day. This can lead to a variety of health issues, such as elevated cholesterol levels, GI issues, diabetes, and heart disease.
You can help your client eat more fiber by including the following foods in their diet:
- Whole wheat/grain cereal or bread
- Whole wheat pasta or brown rice
- Lentils, beans, and other legumes
- Fruits and vegetables
- Nuts or seeds
As a dietitian, it’s important to monitor your client’s fiber intake to help boost overall health and reduce the risk of certain diseases.
TIP: Read more about what is and what are the benefits of fiber in health and how to easily incorporate it into your nutrition clients' meal plans, using Nutrium.
Where can you see these new recommendations in Nutrium?
In the section “Analysis”, you can see the adequacy of your meal plan according to that client's requirements, depending on their age group and gender.
When putting together a meal plan, the software calculates nutrients and minerals according to the food's nutrient composition. Those values can be compared to their percentage of the Reference Nutrient Intake.
In the “Planning” section, you can quickly check what the DRV for fiber intake is for that client, and customize it if needed.
It is also possible to change the source from SACN to Food and Nutrition Board/IOM, depending on which one works best for your client’s needs.
We want to continue improving and adapting the software so that professionals based in the UK can have the right tools to provide the proper nutritional counseling. Feel free to let us know your feedback, suggestions, and questions so we can continue to improve.
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Dietary reference values can be helpful when working with nutrition clients. While these values can be supportive of healthy individuals, it is important to look at each client closely and monitor their current health status to ensure that the recommendations are in line with their current needs.
Nutrients such as vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin D, and others must be closely observed to ensure that their intake falls in line with safe intake recommendations, whereas other nutrients like fiber might be monitored to make sure enough is being consumed. Nutrition can be a delicate balance that can be achieved with the help of a nutrition professional and dietary reference values.
We are always working toward bringing you the best nutrition content, so we welcome any suggestions or comments you might have! Feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN). Retrieved November 25, 2022 from https://www.gov.uk/
Dietary Reference Values. Retrieved November 25, 2022 from https://www.efsa.europa.eu
Nutrient Recommendations and Databases. Retrieved November 24, 2022 from https://ods.od.nih.gov
Protocol for the intake assessments performed in the context of the revision of Tolerable Upper Intake Levels for selected nutrients. Retrieved November 28, 2022 from https://www.efsa.europa.eu
Associations between consumption of dietary fibres and the risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancers, type 2 diabetes, and mortality in the prospective NutriNet-Santé cohort. Retrieved November 28, 2022 from https://academic.oup.com/
British Nutrition Foundation: Fibre. Retrieved November 28, 2022 from https://www.nutrition.org.uk
Dangerous signs you’re not eating enough fiber. Retrieved November 29, 2022 from https://www.eatthis.com
How to get more fibre into your diet. Retrieved November 25, 2022 from https://www.nhs.uk