Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) - the average daily dietary nutrient intake level sufficient to meet the nutrient requirement of nearly all - ~97% - healthy individuals in a particular life stage and gender group.
The process for setting the RDA depends on being able to set an Estimated Average Requirement (EAR). If an EAR cannot be set, no RDA will be set. The EAR is the daily intake value of a nutrient that is estimated to meet the nutrient requirement of half the healthy individuals in a life stage and gender group.
The RDA is set at the EAR plus twice the standard deviation (SD) if known (RDA = EAR + 2 SD). If data about variability in requirements are insufficient to calculate a standard deviation, a coefficient of variation for the EAR of 10% is ordinarily assumed (RDA = 1.2 x EAR).
The RDA for a nutrient is a value to be used as a goal for dietary intake by healthy individuals. The RDA is not intended to be used to assess the diets of either individuals or groups or to plan diets for groups.
The protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) has been adopted by FAO/WHO as the preferred method for the measurement of the protein value in human nutrition.
PDCAAS = Amino Acid Score x Digestibility
The method is based on comparison of the concentration of the first limiting essential amino acid in the test protein with the concentration of that amino acid in a reference (scoring) pattern. This scoring pattern is derived from the essential amino acid requirements of the preschool-age child.
Although the principle of the PDCAAS method has been widely accepted, critical questions have been raised in the scientific community:
the validity of the preschool-age child amino acid requirement values (more than 4 times greater than the EAA requirement for an adult),
the validity of correction for fecal instead of ileal digestibility,
the truncation of PDCAAS values to 100%.
The reference scoring pattern was based on studies performed more than 25 years ago on a limited number of 2-year-old children recovering from malnutrition.
According to the current official recommendations, a 2-year old child needs ~ 3x higher essential-to-non-essential amino acid ratio, and needs essential amino acids in different proportions than adult. Methionine/cysteine is the limiting essential amino acids for adults, and for children it is lysine or tryptophan.
The use of fecal digestibility overestimates the nutritional value of a protein because amino acid nitrogen entering the colon is lost for protein synthesis in the body and is, at least in part, excreted in urine as ammonia.