REGULATING VITAMIN CONSUMPTION
There are three major and complementary ways of safely delivering the essential vitamins and minerals for human health and well-being:
- by promoting the consumption of nutrient-dense foods;
- by increasing the availability and intake of foods with added nutrients (fortified foods);
- and by appropriate use of food (dietary) supplements.
Regulatory authorities around the world need to ensure that levels of micronutrients in the total diet are safe, and that the cumulative intake from all sources does not lead to excessive intakes and any adverse effects in the population, including sensitive groups such as children, the elderly and women during pregnancy and lactation.
Risk analysis for nutrients differs from other substances in foods because vitamins and minerals are essential for life, and consequently adverse effects can result from suboptimal intakes and deficiencies as well as from excessive intakes.
Risk analysis comprises three distinct but closely linked components: risk assessment, risk management and risk communication. The primary objectives are not only to protect the health of consumers but also to take into account other legitimate factors including the facilitation of consumer choice and avoidance of barriers to international trade.
The key regulatory criteria to be taken into account for setting maximum amounts of vitamins and minerals in fortified foods and food supplements are:
- The upper safe levels of each vitamin and mineral established by scientific risk assessment based on generally accepted scientific data, taking into account, as appropriate, the varying degrees of sensitivity of different consumer groups
- The intake of vitamins and minerals from all dietary sources
- Reference intakes of vitamins and minerals for the population