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Daily Requirements

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In this Lesson you will Learn

  1. How many calories should you eat every day?
  2. How much fat, protein, and carbohydrates do you need a day?
  3. How much fiber do you need?
  4. How much sugar is acceptable a day?
  5. How much sodium is too much?

Numerous organizations worldwide publish recommendations regarding the amounts of each nutrient you should consume each day to avoid nutrient deficiencies and other health problems.

In the U.S., these recommendations are the Dietary Reference Intakes, which include the older and more well-known Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA).1 Nutrition labels in the U.S., however, provide the Daily Value (DV), which is intended to show what percentage of the RDA a serving of a food covers, based on the requirements of the average adult following a 2,000 calorie/day diet. Depending on age, activity level, gender, etc., a person's actual needs may be higher or lower than what the DV reflects.2

In the European Union, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is currently working to provide an updated list of dietary reference values (DRVs). The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also partner to release their own recommended nutrient intakes (RNIs). Again, these recommendations depend on factors such as age and weight and are therefore rather complex. Both the recommendations of the EFSA and the WHO/FAO can be found in numerous reports published online.

As in the U.S., however, food labels in Europe use Reference Intakes (RI) to show consumers what percentage of their daily nutrient requirements a food covers. Like the DV, the RI are based on an average adult's 2,000 calorie diet. The table below compares the DV and the RI for several important nutrients. 

DV (US) RI (Europe)
Energy 2000 2000
Total Fat 65 g 70 g
Saturated Fat 20 g 20 g
Carbohydrates 300 g 230 g
50 g 50 g
Fiber 25 g 24 g
Sugar n/a* 90** g
Sodium 2400 mg 2400 mg

Data from:  Food and Drink Federation and U.S. Food and Drug Administration

*There is currently no DV for sugar. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams added sugar per day for women and 36 grams/day for men. 3

**This accounts for both naturally-occurring and added sugars.


  1. United States Department of Agriculture - Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
  2. National Institutes of Health - Daily Values
  3. American Heart Association - Sugar 101


  1. Your daily requirements for all nutrients, vitamins, and minerals depend on age, activity level, gender, etc.
  2. On average an adult needs 2,000 calories a day.
  3. The average adult should eat 65 grams of fat (up to 20 grams saturated fat), 300 grams carbohydrates, and 50 grams protein.
  4. The average adult needs 25 grams of fiber a day.
  5. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams added sugar per day for women, 36 grams for men.
  6. You should not exceed 2,400 mg of sodium a day.
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