Daily allowances for vitamins need to be changed, study says

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Maximum levels Nutrition European union

New recommended daily allowances for micronutrients need to be set
if European regulation on the maximum levels of vitamins and
minerals is to be successful, a study has said.

The work by Dr Jaap Hanekamp and Professor Dr Aalt Bast, published in Environmental Liability, concludes that current recommended daily allowances (RDAs) are an inadequate tool to manage a " healthy lifespan ."

The EU's move to enforce a European-wide maximum and minimum level for vitamins and minerals has already caused much controversy, with member states varying radically on what they currently accept.

The research comes at a crucial time as the European Commission is just months away from issuing an orientation paper, which is thought to set out options for maximum and minimum levels.

In the article, " 'New recommended daily allowances' benchmarking healthy European micronutrient regulation " the researchers say that improved RDA standards would mean that this regulation could " actively contribute to health ."

Dr Hanekamp and Proffessot Bast have already criticized the EC in previous articles for being " overtly and unduly precautionary in terms of its focus on risks of over-exposure to food supplements " and call for new RDAs which will have a greater impact on long-term health.

This article is the fifth in a series of publications that were funded by a grant from the International Nutrition Company (INC).

The work also highlights the difficulty in setting an RDA level, which is currently achieved by using an Estimated Average Requirement (EAR).

The EAR is then used to calculate the short-term dose response for which the RDA is optimized.

"RDAs define the minimum required amount to maintain health by avoiding a specific deficiency state, below which risks will increase," the authors said.

The researchers said that RDAs should take into account the vitamins ability to ward off more serious conditions, rather than being based simply on day-to-day nutritional needs.

The authors wrote: " However,….we should envisage the development of a different physiological perspective in which the issue of optimum dosages not in relation to specific acute deficiency states but to long term (chronic) disease states, can be addressed."

They add that current scientific models used to determine these levels also need to be updated, and note that little has changed with RDA levels in 50 years.

In conclusion, the researchers said the setting of new RDAs for micronutrients would give the opportunity to add other beneficial compounds which are currently considered as non essential vitamins or minerals.

"This is a quantum leap forward in the sense that the new s approach may reveal that micronutrients hitherto regarded as non-essential are in fact essential, and this will considerably facilitate regulatory efforts in this field."

The setting of maximum levels is part of the 2002 Food Supplements Directive.

Just last week a study by the Association of the European Self-Medication Industry (AESGP) highlighted how different countries varied on RDA levels.

Belgium's maximum levels, for example, varied between 1.5 and three times the recommended daily allowance (RDA) with a minimum level of 1.5 per cent RDA.

On the other hand Denmark's maximum levels varied from 1.8 to 1300 times RDA, and a higher minimum level of 30 to 33 per cent of RDA.

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