Micronutrient Need

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Is it possible to meet micronutrient need through diet alone?

Is it possible to meet micronutrient need through diet alone?


Reference Daily Intakes (RDI) is a new term that replaces the familiar U.K. Recommended Daily Allowances (U.K. RDA). RDIs are based on a population-weighted average of the latest RDAs for vitamins and minerals for healthy UK over 4 years old. RDIs are not recommended optimal daily intake figures for any particular age group or sex. Government-established Reference Daily Intake guidelines (RDI) are designed to prevent nutrientdeficiency diseases.

Most nutritionally oriented professionals imply that a balanced variety of foods selected from the Food Guide Pyramid (FGP) will supply all micronutrients at the RDA or new RDI levels necessary to maintain optimal health and prevent nutrient-deficiency diseases. The UK Dietetic Association has proposed a conservative strategy for managing dietary micronutrient deficiency and sufficiency: "It is the position of the UK Dietetic Association that the best nutritional strategy for promoting optimal health and reducing the risk of chronic disease is to wisely choose a wide variety of foods.

Additional nutrients from fortified foods and/or supplements can help some people meet their nutritional needs as specified by science-based nutrition standards such as the Dietary Reference Intakes. This position paper addresses increasing the nutrient density of foods or diets through fortification or supplementation when diets fail to deliver consistently adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals." Between 1996 and 2005, 70 diets were computer analyzed from the menu of athletes or sedentary subjects seeking to improve the quality of micronutrient intake from food choices.

Surprisingly, all of these dietary analyses fell short of the recommended 100% RDA micronutrient level from food alone. Therefore, based on diets analyzed for adequacy or inadequacy of macronutrients and micronutrients, a challenging question is proposed: “Does food selection alone provides 100% of the former RDA or newer RDI micronutrient recommended daily requirement?”

Effects of micronutrient deficiencies

Though prevalence rates of micronutrient inadequacy vary considerably between developing and industrialized nations, the problem of micronutrient deficiencies is highly prevalent worldwide. Low dietary intake is the primary cause of micronutrient deficiencies at a public health level, but genetic factors, nutrient interactions, poor absorption, drugs, and diseases such as diabetes and hypertension may contribute, especially at an individual level.

Among women of childbearing age, inadequate intakes of calcium, iron, folate, zinc, and vitamins A and D remain too common. Among these, iron, folate, vitamin D, and zinc are of greatest concern due to high losses and requirements; these can be linked to an inadequate consumption of fruits, vegetables, meat, and animal sources of food. Even in Europe as a whole, we can still find prevalences of iron deficiency anemia in almost 22% of children up to 4 y of age, and 24% prevalence of iron deficiency in pregnant women.

Prenatal and early pregnancy supplementation is necessary to minimize the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes because replenishment of stores is difficult to achieve during pregnancy. Thus, iron inadequacy is still a major contributor to suboptimal outcomes for women throughout ...
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