Daily requirement: definition & explanations

Tagesbedarf: Definition & Erklärungen

We often talk about it or hear any changes - the word daily requirement is our everyday companion and helper as soon as it comes to any form of intake into the body. Regardless of whether the energy supply, vitamins or minerals or the consumption of stimulants is meant, there is a daily requirement for each of these forms.

This does not always mean the recommended daily dose, especially with intoxicants, the daily requirement indicates the maximum amount that you should take so that you do not damage your body too much.

In order for you to be familiar with the word daily requirement and the associated recommendations for the individual substances in the future, we would like to present and answer the definition of the term and the most important questions in our glossary article "Daily requirement: definition & explanations" so that you are fully informed about the topic.

the essentials in brief

  • The daily requirement is the requirement that covers the period of one day. There are organizations that determine and recommend a person's daily requirement for vitamins and trace elements in order to help lead a healthy life. There are slight to major differences between the sexes.
  • The daily requirement of nutrients and energy intake for men and women is different. The total energy intake is also differentiated by different age groups within the sexes.
  • Your personal basal metabolic rate can be calculated using the Harris-Benedict formula. Factors such as age, weight, height and gender are taken into account. In addition, the PAL factor reflects your energy expenditure, which means that it takes your daily activity into account to calculate your daily calorie needs.

Glossary entry: The term daily requirement explained in detail

In the following we would like to give you an understanding of the definition and all the important guide values ​​for various essential substances. You should then get an overview and a feeling for what the daily requirement is and how high it is for the individual remedies.

What does daily requirement mean?

As the word already suggests, the daily needs are hidden behind it. This refers primarily to food, vitamins, minerals and other substances that our body needs to live every day. However, our body is not dependent on everything it gets, substances such as salt and sugar, for example, should be taken in smaller amounts.

The daily requirement for such substances, but also for alcohol and other stimulants, represents a recommended upper limit, while macronutrients such as carbohydrates, fats or proteins are reference amounts and the daily requirement can also vary, depending on lifestyle.

In today's world, it is not a problem for us to get our daily needs of nutrients so that we don't die. A few thousand years ago, however, things looked very different.

For example, in the time of Homo erectus, our ancestors had to hunt and forage to have food to survive. It was never certain when they would next get something to eat because they couldn't just go to the nearest supermarket and buy a frozen pizza like we can today.

Because of science and the abundance of food, it has become imperative for our species that we should or must eat more of certain foods and less of other foods in order to stay healthy.

Who defines the daily requirement?

Basically, you are the one who defines your daily requirement. But you are not alone and receive support from, for example, the German Society for Nutrition (DGE). The DGE is an independent, scientific specialist society with the aim of promoting, evaluating and publishing nutritional research as well as nutritional advice and education in the service of the health of the population.

With an intake at the level of the reference values, vital physical and psychological functions are ensured, deficiency diseases as well as oversupply are prevented, body reserves are created and - where possible - a contribution is made to the prevention of chronic nutrition-related diseases.

In short - the implementation of the reference values ​​contributes to promoting and maintaining growth, development and performance as well as human health throughout life.

three different meat dishes in bowl

A healthier and balanced diet covers the need for vitamins and trace elements and leads to a healthy life. (Source: Lily Banse / Unsplash)

However, the DGE bases its reference values ​​on the normal Otto consumer, which means that this is the absolute average person. As a competitive athlete, for example, you have a completely different nutrient requirement than the average person. The same applies to physically demanding jobs, where you have an increased calorie consumption.

In addition to the DGE, the World Health Organization (WHO) is also a global contact point for matters relating to nutrition and health. The WHO is based in Geneva, but is still part of the United Nations.

Are there differences in daily calorie and macronutrient requirements for men and women?

Yes there is. First of all, we would like to clarify why we need food and calories at all: Our body constantly burns energy to keep our organs and our entire body alive. To be precise, it draws energy from the macronutrients carbohydrates (carbs), fats and proteins (proteins).

Energy is produced in the transport and breakdown of these macronutrients and is used in the brain, respiration, cardiovascular system, metabolism and other processes. Then there is the daily movement, for which we also need energy.

The energy produced is measured and reported in kilojoules (kJ) or kilocalories (kcal).

A kilocalorie is equal to 4.184 kilojoules. The unit of measurement kcal is a rather outdated unit and is being replaced by the kJ in scientific use. However, kcal is still preferred in colloquial usage. This could be due to the fact that, on the one hand, food manufacturers continue to state kcal on their products and, on the other hand, because the figure in kcal has significantly smaller numbers than the figure in kJ.

Due to the genetic constellation of a man and a woman such as size, muscles and so on, the daily calorie requirement is different for men and women. The following table gives you guide values ​​to get an overview.

Old Men Women
15 to under 19 years 10,460kJ/2,500kcal 8,370kJ/2,000kcal
19 to under 25 years 10,460kJ/2,500kcal 7,950kJ/1,900kcal
25 to under 51 years 10,040kJ/2,400kcal 7,950kJ/1,900kcal
51 to under 65 years 9,200kJ/2,200kcal 7,530kJ/1,800kcal
65 years and older 8,370kJ/2,000kcal 6,700kJ/1,600kcal

Then there are factors such as physical activity and weight, which individualize a person's calorie requirement. For example, a 200 kg person uses more energy than a 70 kg person.

This is due to the fact that a 200-kilo person needs a lot more energy to get his mass moving in the first place. But genetic defects and the like also play a role in the daily need for nutrients.

What is the daily calorie requirement for children and pregnant women?

The daily requirement for children is as follows:

Old Boys Girl
0-3 months 650 calories 650 calories
4 – 12 months 850 calories 850 calories
1 to under 4 years 1,200 calories 1,100 calories
4 to under 7 years 1,400 calories 1,300 calories
7 to under 10 years 1,700 calories 1,500 calories
10 to under 13 years 1,900 calories 1,700 calories
13 to under 15 years 2,300 calories 1,900 calories

In the mother's womb, the baby is still taken care of by the mother, but as soon as it sees the light of day, it first has to take in food from the mother and later on independently.

This is essential as it is important for the child's development. Due to the fact that children are very active and at the same time need energy for the growth and maturation of the body parts, it can happen in some phases of life that the need for energy, i.e. kcal, exceeds that of an adult.

Children like to follow the eating habits of their parents or other larger family members as a role model. If the eating habits are wrong, the child can easily become overweight if the daily requirement is more than covered. A proper and balanced diet is essential for the child as it contributes to the development into a healthy and active adult.

For pregnant women, it is recommended to consume around 250 kcal in the first trimester and around 500 kcal more thereafter in order to provide the growing fetus with sufficient nutrition.

However, the fetus adopts a protective parasitic position, which means that when malnutrition occurs, only the mother suffers the consequences, as the fetus continues to rely on the mother for its sustenance(1).

Can I calculate my daily calorie requirement individually?

Yes, you can easily find a large number of calculators on the Internet that you can use to calculate your personal daily requirement. But there are also many different approaches to calculate your needs. The methods are only reference values ​​and never 100 percent accurate.

In the following we would like to show you a simple and widely used method for calculating your daily requirement.

Harris-Benedict Formula : This formula has been around for around 100 years and is still used today because it takes into account factors such as age, gender and weight. The formula can be used to calculate the basal metabolic rate for a person(2).

For women, the formula is:

66.5 + (13.7 x body weight in kg) + (5.0 x height in cm) – (6.8 x age in years)

For men, the formula is:

655.1 + (9.6 x body weight in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) – (4.7 x age in years)

The noticeable difference in the first addend between men and women indicates that the basal metabolic rate in men is more strongly determined by the body stature and the muscle mass that depends on it.

PAL factor : The PAL factor is a value that indicates how active you are throughout the day. This is why it is also used to calculate the so-called power turnover. The following table gives you an overview of which PAL factor you can use for which activity.

activity Example PAL factor
Sleep 0.95
only sitting/lying down frail, bedridden people 1.2
mainly sedentary work, hardly any physical activity Office jobs at the desk 1.4-1.5
Mostly sedentary work, in between also standing/walking Students, schoolchildren, bus/taxi drivers 1.6 - 1.7
mainly standing and walking activities Sellers, craftsmen, waiters etc. 1.8 - 1.9
physically demanding work Top athletes, farmers etc. 2.0 - 2.4

Depending on how many hours you do what, you calculate the average PAL factor for your daily activity (for example: 1/3 of the day you sleep, 1/3 you are at university and in your free time, also 1/3 of the day, do you do competitive sports) and then multiply this by your basal metabolic rate.

What is the daily requirement for sugar and salt?

The DGE recommends a maximum intake of free sugars of less than 10 percent of the total energy intake. With a total intake of 2,000 kcal per day for a woman, this corresponds to a maximum intake of 50 grams of sugar per day. For a man, with a total intake of 2,500 kcal, it would be 62.5 grams.

For salt, the DGE gives an orientation value of 6 grams for adults. This is roughly equivalent to a teaspoon. In addition, the DGE recommends enriching the salt with iodine or fluoride(3).

What is the daily requirement of vitamins?

Vitamins are only used in small amounts in our body, but they are essential for our health and performance. They are involved in pretty much every process in the body, for example in maintaining the immune system, in vision or in the stability of the bones.

Fat-soluble vitamins are stored by the body when consumed in excess, while water-soluble vitamins are excreted in the urine.

Most vitamins are essential, so they must be supplied to the body. With a healthy and balanced diet, all vitamins are absorbed so that the need is met. However, if the intake is too low or if there is an absorption disorder, malnutrition can occur. Weight loss cures, smoking, too much alcohol, frequent colds and some medications are considered vitamin robbers.

Symptoms of malnutrition are difficulty concentrating, a weakened immune system, listlessness or reduced performance.

There are 13 known vitamins, which are divided into water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins include: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B6 ​​(pyridoxine), B12 (cobalamin), C (ascorbic acid). H (biotin). Niacin (niacinamide), folic acid and pantothenic acid. The fat-soluble ones include: A (retinol), D (calciferol), E (alpha-tocopherol), and K (phylloquinone).

vitamin Emp. amount per day for women Emp. Amount per day for men Happen
water soluble vitamins
B1 (thiamine) 1.0 mg 1.2 mg cereals, legumes
B2 (Riboflavin) 1.2 mg 1.4 mg Dairy products, meat, fish, cereals
B12 (cobalamins) 3.0 µg 3.0 µg Dairy products, meat, fish, legumes
folic acid 400mcg 400mcg Fruits, Vegetables, Bread, Dairy Products, Liver, Eggs
C (ascorbic acid) 100 mg 100 mg Fruit Vegetable
B6 (pyridoxine) 13 mg 16 mg Wheat germ, liver, yeast, whole grains
biotin 30-60mcg 30-60mcg Liver, soybeans, egg yolk, nuts, oatmeal
niacin 1.2 mg 1.4 mg Yeast, meat, fish, eggs, bread, potatoes
pantothenic acid 6 mg 6mg Liver, meat, fish, milk, whole grains
fat-soluble vitamins
A (Retinol)/ Beta Carotene 0.8 mg 1.0 mg Liver, butter, margarine, egg yolk, milk, vegetables
D (Calciferols) 5 µg 5 µg Liver, sea fish, cheese, milk, egg yolk
E (tocopherols) 12 mg 14 mg Vegetable Oils, Nuts, Seeds
K (phylloquinones) 60 µg 70 mcg green vegetables, milk, meat

The reference values ​​are specified by the DGE. The values ​​are sometimes higher in pregnant women. In the case of malnutrition, an increased need due to sport or a disturbance in the absorption of vitamins, an additional supply via supplements makes sense(4).

What is the daily requirement of minerals?

When it comes to minerals, a distinction is made between trace elements. and set elements. Trace elements include iron, iodine, fluoride, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, cobalt and nickel, bulk elements include sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. Humans need the latter more than trace elements(5).

minerals Recommended amount per day for women Recommended amount per day for men Happen
set elements
sodium 550 mg 550 mg cooking salt, mineral water
chloride 830 mg 830 mg cooking salt, mineral water
potassium 2,000 mg 2,000 mg Bananas, potatoes, dried fruit, spinach
calcium 1,000 mg 1,000 mg Dairy products, vegetables, mineral water
phosphorus 700 mg 700 mg in almost all foods
magnesium 300 mg 350 mg Whole grain products, milk/products, liver
trace elements
iron 15 mg 10 mg meat, bread, vegetables
iodine 200mcg 200mcg Iodized salt, sea fish, milk/products
fluoride 3.1 mg 3.8 mg Drinking water, fish, seafood
zinc 7 mg 10 mg Meat, eggs, milk/products, wholemeal flour
selenium 30 - 70 µg 30 - 70 µg Meat, fish, eggs, lentils, asparagus
copper 1-1.5mg 1-1.5mg Meat, fish, eggs, lentils, asparagus
manganese 2-5 mg 2-5 mg Tea, leeks, lettuce, spinach, strawberries
chrome 30 - 100 µg 30-100mcg Meat, Liver, Eggs, Oatmeal, Tomato
molybdenum 50-100mcg 50-100mcg legumes, cereals

The reference values ​​are also specified by the DGE. The values ​​are sometimes higher in pregnant women. In the case of malnutrition, an increased need due to sport or a disruption in the absorption of minerals, an additional intake via supplements makes sense(4).


The word daily requirement is rooted in many areas of everyday life and gives us information about the dosage of a variety of foods and substances.

In addition, there are organizations that only deal with the right reference amount for such substances and help us with healthy and balanced eating habits. Depending on lifestyle and personal health, the reference value may vary. However, your own feelings should always have priority.


  1. H Schneider
  2. S Ramminger, U Elbelt, J Hammerschitt de Lima, JP Keil, K Kohlenberg-MĂĽller, L Valentini
  3. Ralph Grossklaus
  4. Hildtraud button
  5. Thomas Feichtinger, Susana Niedan-Feichtinger
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