Everything you need to know about NRVs
You’ve probably seen the term NRV crop up on our website and product labels. And NRV sits amongst a sea of other acronyms in the nutrition world, like RDA, mg, mcg, and µg. It can be very confusing. However, of all the labels, NRV is one of the most important abbreviations. Here’s why.
What does NRV stand for?
NRV stands for ‘Nutrient Reference Value’. Put simply, it’s the recommended daily quantity of a nutrient an average person needs to remain healthy and prevent illness or deficiency.
NRV was formerly known as RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance). The term was changed in December 2014 under European regulation, but the values remain the same; NRV is simply a direct replacement for RDA.
Why do we use NRVs?
NRVs matter. A supplement with 50% NRV vitamin D (2.5µg) or 100% NRV vitamin D (5µg) could both be labelled as containing vitamin D. But that’s a sizeable difference – and one, as a consumer, you should know. Understanding the NRVs for vitamins and minerals helps you plan and optimise your diet accordingly.
For a supplement to claim it contains a ‘source’ of a vitamin or mineral, it needs to contain at least 15% NRV. This is why you may have noticed magnesium and calcium disappear from the ‘product information’ and ‘formula’ from some of our multivitamin and mineral formulations.We recommend looking at the ingredients list which will show all nutrients present within the product.
Who sets NRVs?
The European Food Safety Authority (otherwise known as EFSA) set NRVs for the 14 minerals and 13 vitamins. These can differ from country to country, which may sound confusing. Surely, we all have the same nutritional requirements, right? Not always. Environmental and societal factors have their place, too.
For instance, the NRV of vitamin D3 is different in the UK and Australia. Australia is a sunnier country – and since sunlight helps synthesise vitamin D3, it means Australians may require a lower intake from dietary sources.
NRVs are hard to follow. Is there an easier way to understand my nutritional needs?
Though not impossible, it’s somewhat impractical and unrealistic to ask the general population to track their daily nutritional intake based on NRVs. Luckily, there are government-based initiatives to help you meet NRV targets for micronutrients. Following the Eat Well Guide and 5-a-day recommendations, for example, will help you obtain the correct amounts of minerals and vitamins through different foods.
Why do some supplement products exceed the NRV?
You may notice that some supplements have formulas which exceed the NRVs. This is because NRVs only refer to the minimum amount of a certain vitamin or mineral the average healthy person needs to avoid illness or deficiency. Indeed, the first NRV for vitamin C was implemented as the lowest possible amount to prevent scurvy. But most people will need more vitamin C to optimise health.
Take the case of our Vitamin K2 product. The NRV for vitamin K is 75µg. However, our formula contains 90µg since there will always be people who require higher levels, for example those concerned with bone health concerns, that demands a greater intake of vitamin K. This level is quite safe to consume long term. In fact, the Safe Upper Limit (SUL) is 1000µg.
What are the upper safe levels of nutrients?
Like NRVs, some vitamins and minerals also have a Safe Upper Limit (SUL).1 Based on recent scientific knowledge, SUL refers to an intake of nutrients that can be consumed over long periods without any major health risk.
For example, the NRV for Vitamin A is 800mcg, while the SUL is 1500mcg. If you were taking a multivitamin with 100% NRV vitamin A, plus two products containing vitamin A – often called vitamin stacking – you would be over the SUL. It’s best to stay below the SUL for long term supplement use.
If you would like more guidance on NRVs, please reach out to our dedicated team of expert Nutrition Advisors, who are always happy to provide free, confidential advice.
Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals (2003). Safe Upper Levels for Vitamins and Minerals Available online: https://cot.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/vitmin2003.pdf
You Might Also Like
Keri Filtness has worked in the Nutrition Industry for 19 years. She is regularly called upon for her professional comments on health and nutrition related news. Her opinions have been featured by BBC3, Prima, Vitality, The Mirror, Woman’s Own and Cycling Weekly, amongst others. She has also worked one to one with journalists, analysing their diets and health concerns and recommending changes and additions, where appropriate.