This search began (again) after the whole wheat pasta question which wound into the search for how much fiber should be in our diet.  I have been on this type of adventure before, trying to look for nutritional information.  We see the food label that lists things as being some percentage of the Daily Recommended Value, but what does it mean to us?  You can also look up the nutrient values of just about any food on the Super Tracker web site, but what do you do with that information?   How do you know that you are getting enough of something like vitamin B12 or dietary fiber?  I’d tried to find something that would calculate and track nutrient values daily, I haven’t yet found anything.  Maybe I’m asking too much, or maybe it’s out there and I just haven’t found it yet.

In the meantime, I did find some interesting information.  First I found the USDA guidelines for food label calculation of recommended daily values.  The list a guide for companies that must calculate and list nutritional information on there products.  They have to take these values and determine the ratio between them and the amount of the nutrient in a serving of the food.  The values are listed in the order that is required to appear on food labels.  The USDA list also includes macro nutrient numbers like fat and carbohydrates.

usda-list Next I found a Harvard Medical School Publication listing of vitamins.  For the most part the lists are similar, but there are a few places where the numbers aren’t very close to matching, like Biotin and vitamin K for example.  Maybe it has something to do with age groups or averaging for them, or maybe it’s a difference in opinion.

compare-havard-list-to-usda

Measurements: mg = milligrams, mcg = micrograms (also know as ug), iu = international unit

Source: Harvard Medical School Publications

Source: Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide

I did find one more site that was pretty neat, Interactive DRI for healthcare professionals.  It lets you calculate nutritional numbers specific to you.  It asks for your age, gender, weight, height, and activity level.  Then it calculates how many calories, macro nutrients (like protein), vitamins, and minerals, you should intake per day.  Which I guess is helpful, however, I’ve found plenty of places that tell me what nutrients I should be getting a day.  Some are just easier to use than others maybe.  What I really want to find is something that adds up the food I eat so that I know I’m getting to the right nutritional levels.   I don’t want to track and add up how many grams of fiber I eat throughout the day. Maybe I’ll check out some apps, I mean hell my phone tells me how many stupid steps I take a day (with it), so I’m pretty sure there’s something to track the crap that I eat.