What exactly is the Daily Value?

What exactly is the Daily Value? I can’t understand all the information on food labels.

The Daily Value (DV) for each nutrient is listed for persons who eat 2,000 to 2,500 calories each day. The values are the same as the USRDA values previously found on labels and were based on the 1968 RDA’s. The highest nutrient requirement in 1968 for any age group for each nutrient determined the USRDA (Daily Value). The Daily Values were established by the Food and Drug Administration for the purpose of labeling foods with the nutrients per serving. The nutritional information is now required on all labels since May 1994.

The nutritional information is listed per serving. The serving sizes were standardized for each type of food and for single serving containers like carbonated beverages. Serving size, the number of servings per container, calories, and calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, sugar, and protein appear at the top of the nutritional information. Below that, vitamins A and C, calcium and iron are listed per serving, as a percent of the Daily Value. The 1968 RDA’s are the basis for the Nutrition Facts label information. The standard for these nutrients is set at the highest RDA value for any person regardless of age or sex. Usually, these values are for the adult male, except the recommended amount for iron is the adult female which is higher. So if a food claims to provide 10% of the Daily Value for iron, it must contain 1.8 milligrams of iron (10% of 18 milligrams is 1.8 milligrams) per serving.

Additional information about other nutrients may be found on food label but other nutrients are not required unless a nutritional claim is made. Remember, if a food has some nutritional claims, you will find it on the label.

You, the consumer can use the Nutrition Facts label to determine the nutritional impact of using or not using a food. You can directly compare the nutritional information between similar products because the nutritional information is listed per serving which is now standardized. Pay attention to the serving size. It may not be the size portion you eat.

Remember also, that one food should not necessarily provide all the nutrients you need in a day. More is not better when it comes to going over 100% of your RDA. Your body’s first need is for energy from calories. Your diet should be composed of a variety of meats, milk, bread, fruits, vegetables, and fats.