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The USDA National Agricultural Library’s (NAL) Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC) today launched its mobile application, or “app,” which calculates Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs). The “USDA Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) Calculator for Healthcare Professionals” app allows users to keep track of nutrient calculations and recommendations that are based on the DRI values in a more convenient and user-friendly format. Through this new app, healthcare professionals can save time in the nutrition care process for patients and clients, while having access to credible nutrition guidance.
The National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine first developed the DRIs in the mid-1990s. DRIs are recommended amounts of each nutrient a healthy person should consume to prevent deficiency or harmful health effects. Initially presented in tables, this information allows healthcare professionals to use the DRIs to assess and plan diets for groups or individuals. For example, if you are a female between 19 and 50, your registered dietitian or doctor may recommend that you increase your dairy consumption to meet the 1,000mg/day calcium recommendation outlined in the DRIs. The DRIs are also used in policy-making such as setting calorie and sodium guidelines for healthy school lunches.
In 2009, FNIC released the Interactive DRI for Healthcare Professionals tool on their website, which made using DRIs even easier. Instead of viewing multiple tables to determine recommendations for one patient, this Web tool offered dietitians, physicians, nurses and other practitioners an efficient way to assess and plan diets for clients and patients. By entering a person’s height, weight, age and activity level, users can receive calorie and nutrient recommendations, as well as body mass index (BMI). With the release of the app, information is even more accessible to the clinician on the go. Users also can save calculations and email the results to themselves, patients or clients.
The DRI app includes user-friendly features such as pregnancy weight gain charts, DRI glossary terms, bookmarking and note saving options. Bookmarking and note saving allow users to personalize the app and organize information for later reference.
Although the DRI recommendations are based on current scientific knowledge, they are not appropriate for everyone. Underlying illness and vitamin deficiencies are just two reasons why your nutrient needs might be different from the recommendations. To figure out your nutrient needs, talk with your healthcare provider or find a registered dietitian near you.
To download the DRI app, go to the iTunes or Google Play stores. This app is free and currently available for iPhones, iPads and Android devices. NAL is part of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and serves as an extensive resource for agricultural information. For more information on the DRIs or the DRI app, or to learn more about NAL services please visit the NAL website.