The Council for Responsible Nutrition has teamed with an international dietary supplement trade group to disseminate science-based information about the safety of supplements in an effort to help inform discussions about the harmonization of regulations in various parts of the world.
CRN is partnering with the International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations (IADSA) in an effort to make more widely available the newly released 3rd edition of CRN’s book Vitamin and Mineral Safety. The 181-page book assembles and assesses the data on a variety of vitamins and minerals with an aim to answer the following question: What is the Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) for these substances?
Science, not politics
While it would seem simple common sense that these levels would be set by local health authorities in reference to toxicological data, that’s not always the case, said Steve Mister, president and CEO of CRN.
“Some countries don’t like to use upper levels,” Mister told NutraIngredients-USA. “They want to either use the daily reference intake or some multiple of that to set a level. They’ll say, if the daily reference intake is 100 mg we’ll just double that and if you want to sell something with more than that in it, you’ll have to sell it an an OTC drug.
“We’ve seen this happen in several countries. We think the upper level should be based on science rather than politics. If you are going to deprive consumers of a certain category of products, we think that should be done based on science rather than it just being an easy step to take. The point of the book is that upper levels should be based on risk assessment,” he said.
Mister said that this perhaps lackadaisical approach in some areas of the world toward setting upper levels limits consumer choice. The daily reference intakes, after all, are more about preventing outright deficiency that could lead to various deficiency diseases than it is about promoting optimum health.
“There are some substances in which the upper level could be a multiple of seven or eight over what the daily reference intake is,” Mister said.
International bona fides
The new collaboration will help the book penetrate into areas where CRN, as a US-based organization, might not have much clout, Mister said.
“We are a member of IADSA, and we believe IADSA has a level of credibility in some areas of the world where we don’t. Having a book with IADSA's name on it will help get the word out,” Mister said.
Harmonization of supplement regulations is ongoing in areas such as Latin America, the ASEAN nations of Southeast Asia, and the Customs Union that includes Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus. While English is for the most part the international language of the dietary supplement business, the regulatory end of the business in non-English speaking countries tends to take place in the local vernacular.
“If you are trying to influence people in areas of the world where English is not the native language, it certainly helps to engage them in their language. We have gotten inquiries about offering the book in other languages, and having it translated is something that is under consideration,” Mister said.