2 Nutrients in Food

Nutrients are divided into two groups: the (carbohydrates, fats, proteins) and (vitamins and minerals). Table 2 shows Health Canada’s recommendations for the daily diet of macronutrients for males and females over 19 years of age. For the recommended daily caloric requirement for youth and other ages, refer to Canada’s Food Guide.

Table 2: Percentage of macronutrients in a balanced diet
Nutrient % of Diet (total kcal per day)
Carbohydrate 45%-65%
Protein 20%-35%
Fat 5%-10%

Percent Daily Value

The terms Reference Standards and Daily Value (DV) relate to the daily intake of specific nutrients except vitamins and minerals. The Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) refers to the intake of vitamins and minerals. A list of the DV and RDI for various nutrients is found in Table 3.

Percent daily value (% DV) was developed to reflect the nutritional content of food products and provide the recommended daily amounts adults need as a part of a healthy diet. The % DV is used to convey how much of the daily amount of each nutrient is found in food products.

Table 3: Recommended daily intake
Nutrient Daily Value (DV)
Fat 65 g
Saturated and trans fats 20 g
Cholesterol 300 mg
Sodium 2400 mg
Carbohydrate 300 g
Fibre 25 g
Sugars no DV
Protein no DV
Vitamin A 1000 RE[1]
Vitamin C 60 mg
Calcium 1100 mg
Iron 14 mg

For a consumer buying finished or prepared foods, it is important to read the nutrition labels in detail on all products. For example, it is better to choose foods with a low % DV of nutrients such as fat, sodium, and saturated and trans fats. A higher % DV is recommended for products high in nutrients such as fibre, vitamin A, calcium, and iron. More detail about the requirements of labels and the is found in the last section of this chapter. For more information consult the CFIA website for Information within the Nutrition Facts Table.


  1. Note: RE = retinol equivalents

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