Lower intake in vitamins and minerals present industry opportunities

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Vitamin

A report detailing a list of micronutrient deficiencies in children
and adults has identified a hit list of vitamin and minerals which
are not being consumed enough by various groups in the UK.

The study by Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD), a charity which provides food and grocery information, reveals lower than recommended intake amounts of vitamins including A, D, B2 and Iron for groups of adults and children. The report highlights massive opportunities for supplement and ingredient manufacturers to address these issues, through adding extra minerals and vitamins into products, as well as highlighting which groups of people supplements can be targeted at. IGD's report says that poor food choices have contributed to some people in the UK having low micronutrient intakes, which may lead to unfavourable health outcomes, but at the same time warns manufacturers to use discretion in fortification, adding that "the increased use of supplements and consumption of fortified foods could potentially lead to longer-term risk of excessive consumption of some micronutrients​." It says that food manufacturers and retailers could use new products and reformulations to increase fruit and vegetable contents of foods and to investigate opportunities to produce vitamin D-fortified foods that may appeal to older consumers who often do not have enough in their diet. Fortification should also be carefully considered, it says, adding that it is not a decision to be taken "lightly". "The best rationale and research prior to any additions can result in both improving the micronutrient intake of the population and healthier profits for a company,"​ the report said. Key micronutrients of concern were outlined as Vitamin A, which one in two children under five do not have enough of in their diet. Vitamin D was found as being low in young women, with more than 25 per cent of 19 to 24-year-olds having a low status. Men and women aged 11 to 25 are most likely to have low intakes of Riboflavin (vitamin B2 ), and IGD points out that these groups tend to drink less milk, which is a good source of riboflavin. The report says that poor iron status is common in UK toddlers and about 12 per cent have iron deficiency anemia. Other low intakes were identified in groups of men and women for vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin B12, Iron, Thiamin and folate, but to lesser extents. For children aged between one and five the intake of most nutrients were "adequate," but some 50 per cent of young children haw low copper and vitamin A intakes, and more than two thirds had low zinc. The report adds that: "While in the UK there are not many children with deficiency diseases, some have sub-clinical deficiency diseases."​ For teenagers 75 per cent of boys and 87 per cent of girls had low riboflavin status, 10 per cent of boys and girls had poor vitamin B6 status, and 7 per cent boys and 9 per cent girls had poor folate status. Less than a quarter of boys and a third of girls were consuming one 90g portion of oily fish per week. In Europe the European Commission is currently drawing up a list of maximum and minimumlevels for mineral and vitamins throughout the bloc, in an attempt to harmonise levels. Academics have also called for vitamin D levels to be increased. Dr Michael Holick from Boston University School of Medicine said this July that recommended daily intakes of vitamin D should be quadrupled to 800 International Units. He said current recommendations of 200 IU per day for children and adults up to 50 years of age for vitamin D need to be increased to 800 - 1000 IU vitamin D3. Fifteen experts from universities, research institutes, and university hospitals around the world, led by Reinhold Vieth from Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital, have also called on the Food and Nutrition Board and the European Commission's Health and Consumer Protection Directorate-General to boost vitamin D levels.

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