Reference Intakes (RIs) and Reference Nutrient Intakes (RNIs)

Reference Intakes (RIs)

Reference Intakes have superseded Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs) as the reference nutritional values that are listed on food labels as directed by European Law. They apply to energy, total fat, saturates, carbohydrates, sugars, protein and salt, and it is important to note that the nutrient values are maximums, and not target values.

These values make it possible to compare food products against each other, allowing us to easily choose the products that are better for us and enable us to remain within our targets.

Although the figures are said to apply to adults, they are based on an average woman, with no specific dietary requirements and an average calorie intake of around 2000 kcal.

Reference Intakes for energy and selected nutrients (adults)
Energy or nutrient Reference Intake
Energy 8400kJ / 2000kcal
Total fat 70 g
Saturates 20 g
Carbohydrates 260 g
Sugars 90 g
Protein 50 g
Salt 6 g

Reference Nutrient Intakes (RNIs)

Reference Nutrient Intakes are reference values for the intake of protein, vitamins and minerals.

They are not minimum targets, but estimates of how much is required to meet the needs of 97.5% of the group of people to which they apply.

They are based on scientific research that was carried out by The Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA) in the early 1990s that looked at the requirements for different groups of the population.


Mineral Women (aged 19-50) Men (aged 19-50)
Calcium Mg/d 700 700
Iron Mg/d 14.8 8.7
Magnesium Mg/d 270 300
Phosphorus Mg/d 550 550
Potassium Mg/d 3500 3500
Sodium Mg/d 1600 1600
Zinc Mg 7 9.5


Vitamin Women (aged 19-50) Men (aged 19-50)
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) mg 40 40
Vitamin B1 (thiamin) mg 0.8 1
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) mg 1.1 1.3
Vitamin B3 (niacin) mg 13 17
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) mg 1.2 1.4
Folate (B-complex) µg 200 200
Vitamin B12 (cobalamine) µg 1.5 1.5
Vitamin A µg 600 700
Vitamin E (tocopherol) mg 10 10
Vitamin D (cholecalciferol) µg 5 5
Vitamin K µg 80 80