By Lisa Lubin, MS, RDN

The Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods and drinks has been updated to make it easier for you to make informed choices. The Daily Values for many nutrients have been updated based on new nutrition research. So, the % Daily Value, or %DV, may be different on some of your favorite foods and beverages.

%DV shows how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to your overall daily diet. You’ll notice the %DV column doesn’t add up vertically to 100%. Instead, %DV is the percentage of the Daily Value for each nutrient in a serving of the food. The Daily Values are reference amounts (in grams, milligrams, or micrograms) of nutrients to consume or not to exceed each day.

%DV on the label is a handy tool to help you make informed choices about what you eat and drink. You can use it to:

  • Check if a food is high or low in an individual nutrient: As a general guide, 5% DV or less of a nutrient per serving is considered low, and 20% DV or more of a nutrient per serving is considered high.
  •  Compare Foods: %DV makes it easy for you to make comparisons. Just make sure the serving sizes of each product are the same. Look at the %DV listed for the different nutrients and more often choose foods that are higher in dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium and lower in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars.
  •  Manage Dietary Trade-Offs: You don’t have to give up a favorite food to have a healthy diet. Use %DV to make dietary trade-offs with other foods throughout the day. When a food you like is high in a nutrient you want to get less of—or low in a nutrient you want to get more of—you can balance it with foods that are low (or high) in that nutrient at other times of the day.

But remember, there is no Daily Value assigned to either Trans Fat or Total Sugars, so no %DV appears on the label for these nutrients. Also, a %DV is only listed for protein in specific situations. For these nutrients, use the number of grams to compare and choose products.

Learn more about the Lows and Highs of Percent Daily Value on the New Nutrition Facts Label

About the Author

Lisa Lubin is a Public Health Educator at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and has a Master of Science in Nutrition Science from Drexel University and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania.