A new risk-benefit method for evaluating micronutrient intake developed by Dutch scientists could help end the reliance on outdated approaches to the setting of vitamin and mineral levels, says the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH).
The ANH commissioned the Dutch study in an effort to cut through the “considerable confusion” over what levels are optimum for particular population groups. The campaign group points out that recent research has both warned about the effects of high doses of certain vitamins – in particular, synthetic ones – and identified groups deficient in key nutrients.
The new approach, just accepted for publication, in the journal Critical Review in Nutrition and Food Science, integrates scientific data on both risks, from inadequacy and excess, as well as on benefits to offer a rage of doses of specific vitamins and mineral forms suitable for specific populations.
Lisette Krul, MSc from the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Approach (TNO), leading the research, said: “Our approach involves integrating all available data taking into account risks of deficiency, the higher requirements or benefits for particular populations while also increasing toxicity.”
The work is published as the Euopean Commission considers various options to impose EU-wide limits on both maximum and minimum amounts of vitamins and minerals under the Food Supplements Directive.
Commenting on the two-year study by the TNO researchers, ANH executive director, Robert Verkerk, said: “The methods the European Commission have considered so far for regulatory processes have focused only on risk. They are based on making sure even the most sensitive person won’t suffer any adverse effect, however slight or temporary, from the most toxic form of a given nutrient.
“If you applied the same thinking to conventional foods, you’d end up banning all foods containing wheat and dairy”
“We welcome the new approach proposed by the TNO scientists. If the other methods that have been under consideration by the European Commission were turned into law, they would prevent a lot of people getting the amounts of nutrients they really need. If you applied the same thinking to conventional foods, you’d end up banning all foods containing wheat and dairy because people sensitive to gluten or lactose react adversely to these foods even though others may benefit from the consumption of these foods.”
• The full text of the paper Quantifiable Risk Benefit Assessment of Micronutrients from Theory to Practice can downloaded here.