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Minimum Carbohydrate Recommendations

The Food & Nutrition Board of the National Academies, Institute of Medicine has released new recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for energy yielding nutrients including carbohydrate.  The RDA for carbohydrate has been set at 130 grams per day for children and adults.  

The standard recommendation for carbohydrate is 45-65% of total calories.  This means if 1800 calories are eaten each day, the recommended amount of carbohydrate is 202-292 grams based on 45-65% calories from carbohydrate.

Carbohydrate (glucose) is your body's favorite energy source.  Many organs in the body can use protein or fat for energy if carbohydrate is not available.  The brain, however, requires some carbohydrate (glucose) to function.  

The brain uses an average minimum of 130 grams carbohydrate daily.  This minimal amount is where the RDA is derived.  Consider that other parts of the body would like to use carbohydrate for energy as well.

The importance of eating a diet with carbohydrate sources including whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and low fat dairy products is stressed in the American Diabetes Association journals.  The American Diabetes association also indicates that consideration for the total amount of carbohydrate in each meal and/or snack should be held with high importance.

Institute of Medicine:  Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids.  Washington D.C., National Academy of Sciences.

Franz, Marion J.  Nutrition FYI.  So Many Nutrition Recommendations - Contradictory or Compatible?  Diabetes Spectrum 16:  56-63.


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