France moves to update vitamin and mineral dietary reference values

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags ANSES Vitamin Mineral reference standards

French authorities have taken steps to update vitamin and mineral intake for the country’s population, in new recommendations that were last revised back in 2016.

The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) has also taken steps to reassess values for infants, children, adolescents, pregnant women, breast-feeding women and the elderly - groups that have not been updated since 2001.

“These values will become the references used by all professionals in the nutrition and health sector,”​ the agency said in a statement.

“They are available to health professionals and are particularly useful for individual preventive dietary monitoring or for therapeutic support. 

“They can also be used by health authorities for public health purposes, in particular to estimate numbers whose vitamin and mineral intake is inadequate or excessive, or to establish food consumption guidelines.”

Vitamin D and B9

The dietary reference values hold additional significance as Europe continues to battle the effects of COVID-19, in which vitamin D and others have been touted as nutrients that have a certain efficacy against the virus.

Despite the links, ANSES has made no reference to this in the document​, which focuses on guidance for the general population.

ANSES revealed that in 2019, over 70% of French adults were still not getting an adequate intake of vitamin D, and 6.5% even showed a deficiency.

Apart from fortifying foods with vitamin D or providing personalised supplementation through the healthcare system the Agency says that vitamin D needs can be met by eating foods that are rich in vitamin D, including oily fish (herring, sardines, salmon and mackerel), certain mushrooms,

Other foods that could prove valuable include dairy products fortified with vitamin D, egg yolks, dark chocolate, butter and margarine.

The Agency also recommends exposure to the sun stating that exposing skin to the sun for 15 to 20 minutes in the late morning or in the afternoon is enough to gain an adequate daily intake of vitamin D.

Expectant mother advice

In further recommendation, ANSES also speaks to expectant mothers, where the emphasis is placed on achieving a sufficient intake of vitamin B9 to prevent any risk of malformations in unborn children.

“It is essential for all women likely to become pregnant to have a sufficient intake of vitamin B9,”​ the Agency states.

“This approach is protective, since it takes account of unplanned pregnancies. ANSES reiterates that vitamin B9 needs can be covered by eating pulses, green leafy vegetables, yeast flakes, wheat germ or egg yolk, which can be excellent sources.”

The agency concludes by stating that it, “considers that research is necessary to specify the values ​​of certain nutritional references for which the distributions are not or insufficiently known.

“The research is also necessary to better characterise the bioavailability of certain nutrients according to the food context in order to adapt the references to different types of diets.

“This dietary context may differ according to the disparities that may be introduced by cultural and regional practices in France metropolitan and ‘a fortiori’ overseas.”

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