This article will serve as a running list for questionable issues I ran into while trying to grasp proper nutrition for my son, who has ADHD.

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Below are the issues I ran into using IOM’s guidelines when I tried to find my son’s daily protein intake:
According to the Institute of Medicine, 10-30% a 4-18 year-old’s daily caloric intake should be from protein. I figured out that my 7-year-old son’s daily caloric intake should be 1400 calories per day based on a chart provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (link: http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2010/DietaryGuidelines2010.pdf) on page 13. On the low end of the IOM’s recommendation, 10% of 1400 is 140 calories from protein. Divide that number by 4 (the number of calories in each gram of protein) and you get a minimum of 35 grams of protein per day. But when you check the IOM’s list of recommended dietary allowances (http://www.iom.edu/Activities/Nutrition/SummaryDRIs/~/media/Files/Activity%20Files/Nutrition/DRIs/5_Summary%20Table%20Tables%201-4.pdf), children in the 4-8 year old age group are recommended a minimum of 19 grams of protein per day. Wait – what the?? Couldn’t be. So I checked their number by doing the math backwards (19 grams x 4 = 76 protein calories per day, 76 x 10 = 760), that figures to a 760 calorie per day diet. That’s less than a sedentary 2-year-old.
When I did the math for myself with a daily caloric intake of 1800 then compared it to IOM’s RDI chart, it was only one gram off or my gender and age group. So my numbers figured, but children in my son’s age group did not.
But wait, there’s more. According to the IOM, you can find the recommended daily protein intake of a 4-8 year old by multiplying their weight in pounds by 0.45 grams. Since my son is about 50 pounds, he would get 22.5 grams of protein per day. That’s a little closer to 19. Using that math, I can only assume that a 42 pound 4-year old is lowering the minimum requirements for the entire age group.
I cross referenced the grams-per-pound method with myself (which is 0.37 grams of protein per pound for women) and the numbers figured pretty close (38.85 grams compared to IOM’s catch-all 46 grams for women aged 14 – 70 at varying weights).
But based on that math, IOM is implying hat my son should only consume 900 calories per day (22.5 grams x 4 = 90 protein calories x 10 = 900 calories). That’s still less than a sedentary 2-year-old, and certainly doesn’t check out with the information the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has put out there for daily caloric intake.
Long story short, I am disenchanted with IOM and their many unmatching guidelines, but they’re the only source out there recommending a protein intake that I can find. So I say to heck with their 19 grams, I’m going with 10-30% of 1400 calories, which is a range of 35-105
Then I checked out MyPlate (provided the United States Department of Agriculture) (http://www.choosemyplate.gov/supertracker-tools/daily-food-plans.html), for their protein recommendations. After fumbling through some charts that I feel aren’t well-labeled, I saw that list daily protein intake is listed in ounces. Isn’t that a little misleading? I’m not sure what other folks think when they see that, but it makes me think of protein in terms of meat slabs. Is that how they intended it? I’ve never seen protein referred to on a label as ounces. I’ve seen serving sizes in ounces. Is that what they mean?
When I used an online converter to change ounces to grams, I got about 114 grams of protein for my son (4oz). Pretty darn close to 30% of his caloric intake. Depending on what type of protein you eat, you might be able to achieve the low end of IOM’s recommendations and get 19 grams of protein out of 4 ounces of meat. My very quick search of the USDA’s connections with IOM didn’t turn up much results, so I’m not sure if they communicate with each other. I would love to understand the connection. But I do think it’s weird that the USDA is making recommendations on what amounts of which foods we should be eating. Wouldn’t they be a little biased?
Back to the ounces to grams conversation – I cross referenced USDA with IOM’s charts using my own caloric intake and it was still pretty close to the high end of my recommended caloric intake, 35% of 1800 calories.


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