RDIs, AIs, ULs - what do they mean?
In Australia and New Zealand, experts have worked out the average daily amount of each nutrient that is enough to meet the needs of nearly all healthy people at a particular age and gender. [The amount is referred to as the recommended daily intake or RDI. For example, RDIs for vitamin C are 40µg for males and 30µg females.
Sometimes an RDI for a particular nutrient can’t be worked out, so other ways are used to help guide us on how much to eat. One of those ways is to give an adequate intake (AI) amount, based on what they have found to be average levels of nutrient intake within a healthy group of people.
Nutritional experts have also set upper levels (UL) for nutrients, to make sure we know what the highest level of nutrient intake is that’s likely to pose no risk to our health. As intake rises above the UL, the risk of adverse effects rises.
It’s important to note there is no established benefit for healthy people to eat a nutrient in amounts greater than the RDI or AI. Where there is no UL available, this means there are not enough data to set one; it does not mean that eating a high level of that nutrient is safe.
Both Australia and New Zealand review nutritional reference values from time to time, based on changes in evidence, so it’s wise to adhere to the most up-to-date values.