Common Abbreviations Used in Nutrition

When you read about nutrition, diet and nutritional supplements, you are likely to come across some abbreviations that may not look familiar to you. Here are some common abbreviations used in nutrition:

AA

Amino Acids, the individual components of proteins.

ADEK

Vitamins A, D, E and K, fat-soluble vitamins sometimes grouped together and designated by the abbreviation ADEK.

AI

Adequate Intake , amount of a nutrient that will meet the requirements of everybody. It is used when a RDA can’t be determined.

BMI

Body Mass Index, a measurement that indicates obesity by calculating the relative percentages of fat and muscle in the body.

Ca

Calcium, a dietary mineral needed for healthy bones, muscle function and many other functions in the body.

DRI

Dietary Reference Intake, the levels of nutrients needed for dietary consumption. They replaced the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) in 1989.

EAR

Estimated Average Requirement, the intake of a nutrient that will meet the requirements of one half of all healthy individuals.

Energy RDA

Energy Recommended Dietary Allowance, the average number of calories needed, differing by gender and age. Note: The Energy RDA is an average, so any person may actually need more calories or fewer calories than what the calorie charts show.

Fe

Iron, a dietary mineral needed for transportation of oxygen throughout the body.

FTT

Failure To Thrive, a significant delay in growth of an infant or young child.

g

Gram, a metric unit of measure. Carbohydrates, fats and proteins are measured in grams. It would take about 29 grams to equal one ounce.

IU

International Unit, a measure of the activity of vitamins and drugs. Vitamins A, D and E are often measured in this way. Conversion from IU to mg is different for each vitamin.

K

Potassium, a dietary mineral that is needed for water balance and healthy muscle function in the body.

kcal

Kilocalorie, a measure of energy that we commonly refer to as a “calorie.”

mcg

Microgram, a metric unit of measure. Some vitamins and minerals are measured in micrograms, for example, 1,000 micrograms equal one milligram.

mg

Milligram, another metric unit of measure. Many vitamins and minerals are measured in milligrams, for example, 1,000 milligrams equal one gram.

Mg

Magnesium, a dietary mineral needed for healthy muscle function and other processes in the body.

mEq

Milliequivalent, a measurement that is equal to one-thousandth of a gram equivalent.

Na

Sodium, a dietary mineral that is needed for water balance in the body.

RDA

Recommended Dietary Allowance designates the amount of a nutrient that will meet the requirements of 97.5% of healthy individuals. It is based on the EAR plus two standard deviations.

REE

Resting Energy Expenditure, number of calories you would burn if you stayed at rest all day.

RNI

Reference Nutrient Intake, used in the UK and stands for the daily nutrient recommendations to meet the needs for the majority of the population.

UL

Tolerable Upper Limit, highest level of a nutrient that is safe for all individuals.

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