What Do Those Percentage Daily Values Mean?

As children, we were taught in elementary school that a balanced diet is one which contains the classes of food in sufficient quantity. However, who determines sufficient? How many know what amounts of nutrients are to be had in a day, and how to spread this across meals so that the daily requirement is met. That’s what the percentage daily values in the Nutrition Facts labels of your store-bought products are for. Daily Value is a term on food labels based on the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) designed to help consumers use food label information to plan a healthy diet.

The purpose of the DV is to show you how much of your Daily (nutritional) Value for foods to be consumed are contained in the products being consumed. The Daily Value is determined by the RDI (The Reference Daily Intake) is the daily intake level of a nutrient that is considered to be sufficient to meet the requirements of 97–98% of healthy individuals in every demographic in the United States. While developed for the US population, it has been adopted by several other countries.


See below an example of recommended Dietary Reference Values.

Sources of Energy

Nutrient Population average % of food energy[4]
Saturated Fatty Acid Not more than 11%
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid 6.5%
Monounsaturated Fatty Acid 13%
Trans fats Not more than 2%
Total Fat Not more than 35%
Non-milk extrinsic sugars Not more than 11%
Intrinsic milk sugars and starch 39%
Total Carbohydrate 50%
Fibre as non-starch polysaccharide 18% [not applicable to children under 5]



Age Target salt intake (grams per day)[4]
0–6 months Less than 1g
7–12 months 1g
1–3 years 2g
4–6 years 3g
7–10 years 5g
11 years+ 6g


Nutrient 1-3yrs 4-6yrs 7-10yrs 11-14yrs 15-18yrs Adults 19-50 yrs Adults 50+
Protein 15g 20g 28g 42g 55g 55g 53g
Iron 7mg 6mg 9mg 14.8mg 14.8mg 14.8mg 9mg
Zinc 5mg 6.5mg 7mg 9mg 9.5mg 9.5mg 9.5mg
Vitamin A (retinol equivalents) 400mcg 400mcg 500mcg 600mcg 700mcg 700mcg 700mcg
Folate 70mcg 100mcg 150mcg 200mcg 200mcg 200mcg 200mcg
Vitamin C 30mg 30mg 30mg 35mg 40mg 40mg 40mg


Note that children, adults and special factors like pregnancy means that all candidates are not treated to equal rules.

KEY: MCG = Microgrammes

MG= Milligrammes


Follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter!

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

This website stores cookies on your computer. Cookie Policy

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x