Alliance for Natural Health protest at Irish authority plans to set supplement limits

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

The Alliance for Natural Health (ANH-Intl) has responded to Irish Authorities’ intentions to set new upper limits for vitamins and minerals, as a “violation of fundamental rights and freedoms of the Irish people”.

In a recent opinion piece​ the advocacy group expressed misgivings over the Food Safety Authority Ireland’s (FSAI) recent report, claiming it could seriously limit the ability of Irish citizens to support their health and wellbeing.

“ANH-Intl argues that imposing limits on maximum levels that are below the upper levels may be disproportionate,”​ they said.

“Among the reasons for this is that upper levels do not adequately take into account differences between risk/benefit profile of different forms (e.g. pyridoxine and pyridoxamine, vitamin B6; folic acid and reduced 5’-methyltetrahydrofolate, folate).

“Nor do they account sufficiently for differences in response or requirement between individuals.”

FSAI establish new limits

Last month, Nutraingredients looked into the FSAI’s intention to set new maximum safe levels​ for 21 of the 30 vitamins and minerals available in Irish food supplements.

The report attempted to establish tolerable upper level as well as highlight the adverse effects of these 21 nutrients if taken to excess.

“People in Ireland are becoming more aware of the importance of a varied and balanced diet for good health which is positive; however, some are using food supplements in their diet and there can be a mistaken belief that ‘more is better,’​ said Professor Albert Flynn, chair of the FSAI Scientific Committee.

“There can be adverse health effects when people take too much of some vitamins or minerals. This is particularly true when it comes to children and adolescents who may be taking the same amounts of vitamins and minerals from food supplements as adults, despite having different needs and smaller body sizes. ​

“We know from recent surveys of dietary practices in Ireland that most people are getting more than enough vitamins and minerals from their diet alone,” ​he​ added.

ANH-Intl disapproval

Of particular vexation to ANH-Intl was the FSAI’s plans to restrict access to higher dose nutrients in supplements and the negative impact on those who have higher than average needs.

Such restrictions can limit an individual’s ability to stay healthy or restore their health, ANH-Intl claimed.

The group went further, considering the Irish government’s actions in breach of fundamental human rights and freedoms, outlined under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Citing a restriction of public choice without adequate scientific basis, ANH-Intl said, “We have determined that if the Irish government was to proceed with its proposed approach, restrictions on 5 vitamins and one mineral may be illegal.

“These are, niacin (as nicotinic acid), vitamin B6 (especially in the pyridoxamine and pyridoxal forms), folate (especially in the reduced, 5’-methyltetrahydrofolate forms), vitamin B12 (all forms), vitamin D (all forms) and zinc (all forms).”

Commenting at the time of the report’s publication, Dr Pamela Byrne, FSAI’s CEO stated, “The only food supplements that the FSAI recommends are 400 micrograms (µg) folic acid per day for women who are sexually active and a 5µg vitamin D3 only supplement per day for all infants from birth to 12 months.”​

“Our advice for the general public regarding taking food supplements is that it is not necessary to take food supplements to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”​

“The FSAI recommends a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables and, plenty of exercise,” ​she added.

The ANH-Intl concluded with their intentions to take these and related issues up with the Irish health trade.

“We will be standing firmly at the side of those wishing to defend higher dose supplements that can be shown to be safe,”​ the group said.

“Alongside their safety, these supplements also help large numbers in Ireland to maintain their health.”

The FSAI were unable to respond to our request for comment by publication.

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