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What are Daily Values?

M.C. Huguelet
By
Updated Jan 24, 2024
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Daily values are the amounts of nutrients such as fat, fiber, and calcium that should be consumed each day for maximal dietary health, based on the recommendations of nutrition experts. In the US, every food label states the percentages of one’s daily values that a serving of that particular product contributes. Understanding this labeling can help consumers meet their recommended intake of each nutrient and thus eat healthfully.

The recommended daily intake of each nutrient is based upon a diet of 2,000 calories, a measure deemed optimal for most adults. It is expressed in a number of different values, such as grams, milligrams, or international units, depending on the constitution of the nutrient in question. Nutrition experts have established daily values for a wide range of nutrients, from familiar dietary entities like fat and sodium to less recognizable ones like biotin and phosphorus. Most food labeling, however, lists only the recommendations for those nutrients of concern to the average consumer.

In the US, food labels are designed to indicate the proportion of the recommended intake of each important nutrient that a serving of that food provides. This measure is known as Percent Daily Value (%DV). In the column of nutrition facts that appears on every label, the %DV for a particular nutrient is listed to the right of the amount of that nutrient contained in one serving of the product.

Say, for instance, a 1 cup serving of granola cereal contains 12 grams of fat. According to the established recommendations, the total daily value of fat for a 2,000 calorie diet should be 65 grams or less. The 12 grams of fat contained in a serving of the granola equal 18% of those 65 grams of fat; thus the %DV for one serving of this product is 18%.

Though meeting daily values can at first seem a confusing process, food labeling regulators have taken steps to make understanding the nutritional contents of each product relatively easy for consumers. For instance, many labels contain a footnote beneath the nutrition facts column that lists the total daily values for key nutrients such as fat, carbohydrates, and cholesterol. With these figures at hand, the consumer need not worry about memorizing recommended intakes, and he can easily see the way the %DV contained in a product relates to the overall daily value for each nutrient. This labeling can also help him compare products and choose the ones that best allow him to consume his recommended daily values.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
M.C. Huguelet
By M.C. Huguelet
Cate Huguelet, a Chicago-based freelance writer with a passion for storytelling, crafts engaging content for a wide range of publications, including WiseGeek. With degrees in Writing and English, she brings a unique perspective and a commitment to clean, precise copy that resonates with readers. Her ability to understand and connect with audiences makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By Wisedly33 — On Oct 31, 2014

@Pippinwhite- As part of my diet and exercise plan, I have to look at those nutrition facts and daily values, too. The carb count isn't as important to me, since I need to load up on a few carb-heavy meals before my demanding workouts on the weekends. I'm more interested in the vitamin side of daily values. I was surprised to learn how many of my favorite foods had very little in the way of vitamins to offer my body.

I now have a personal trainer, and she wants me to keep a daily food diary so I can see exactly what I'm putting into my body. I need to include the information found on all those nutritional daily values labels. From that, she can tell if something I'm eating is not doing me any good, like sugary cereals or caffeinated beverages.

By Pippinwhite — On Oct 31, 2014

Now that I've been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I read these nutrition facts and daily values labels religiously. I first look for the total number of carbs in a product, then subtract things like fiber so I can tell if it's going to be too hard on my blood sugar levels. After that, I look at other daily value numbers like total fat content and protein. If it's high in protein and fairly low in fat, it will most likely end up in my grocery cart.

M.C. Huguelet
M.C. Huguelet
Cate Huguelet, a Chicago-based freelance writer with a passion for storytelling, crafts engaging content for a wide...
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