Nutrition: dietary reference values


Hello, my name is Anja and I
am a scientist working at EFSA in the area of nutrition. Today I am going to talk
to you about what we do at EFSA with respect to
Dietary Reference Values. “An apple a day keeps
the doctor away”. As this well-known saying
suggests, we have long known that some foods have health benefits
and help to prevent diseases. Awareness of the importance
of good nutrition has risen in recent years. There is now consensus
among scientists that poor diets and
low levels of physical activity can lead to a number
of chronic conditions, such as obesity, cardiovascular
disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and even cognitive
diseases like dementia. Humans need many different
nutrients if they are to stay healthy and reduce the risk
of diet-related disease. A nutrient is a component
of food such as protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins,
minerals, and water. Each nutrient has particular
functions in the body. Energy-providing macronutrients
such as carbohydrate, fat and protein, are needed in
relatively large quantities. We need micronutrients, such
as minerals and vitamins, in relatively small quantities. The amount of each nutrient
needed to maintain health is called the
nutrient requirement. It is related to a person’s age,
gender, level of physical activity, genetic background,
dietary pattern and physiological
status such as pregnancy. For example, women of childbearing
age need more iron than men. Also, some people absorb
or utilise nutrients less efficiently and so have
higher nutrient requirements. For example, vegetarians
take up iron less well from the diet than people who eat meat and thus
vegetarians need more iron in their diet. All this information is taken into account
when setting Dietary Reference Values. Dietary Reference Values are
nutrient intake values derived to protect people’s health. They state the amounts of macro
– and micronutrients that should be ingested by healthy people, from
infants up to the elderly. EFSA’s nutrition experts have
set Dietary Reference Values for the intake of carbohydrate,
dietary fibre, fat, protein, energy, and water
by European citizens. For example, they concluded that
a daily intake of 25 grams of dietary fibre is adequate for
normal bowel function in adults. They also considered that
the intake of certain fatty acids – namely saturated fatty acids
and trans fatty acids – should be as low as possible to limit
the risk of cardiovascular disease. So how do EFSA’s nutrition experts
tackle this task? Based on published scientific literature,
they assess the relationship between intake of a nutrient, the nutrient status of the body, and the relation to human health. Their aim is to identify a suitable
indicator for the nutrient requirement. This can be a nutrient
intake linked to prevention of a deficiency disease,
a function of the body, or protection from a non-communicable
disease such as cardiovascular disease. So who is going to use these Dietary
Reference Values and for what purpose? Dietary Reference Values can
be used by policy-makers, such as the European Commission
or EU Member States, to ensure that the information
on food labelling is accurate and meaningful to consumers. Dietary Reference Values can also
be used to help identify diet-related problems,
and for planning of diets. Last but not least, they serve
as the basis for the drafting of dietary guidelines – such as in the
form of a food pyramide – that can help to keep European
citizens fit and healthy.

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5 thoughts on “Nutrition: dietary reference values

  1. EFSA seems not to work for safety of citizens, but (only) for profits of pharma giants and coimpanies like Monsanto.

    Healthy well-known traditinal agriculture, natural medecine and food supplements are going to get forbidden by EFSA and dangerous ingedients stay allowed.

  2. "An apple a day…" – that was yesterday. Tdoay EFSA is going to forbid healthy food. The fruits have to be on equal size and look one like the other. Naturality and healthy ingredients are not wanted by EFSA.

    It was better for us, the human citzens, EFSA stopped to work at all!

  3. I'm sorry to call out your bullshit! You're probably funded by the meat and dairy industry. Vegans and Vegetarians do not necessarily absorb less or more Fe (iron) than meat eaters. That's a fallacy the size of Russia.
    I'm a 10year long vegan and I can send you my latest blood test results and slap you in the face with it.
    My wife is a life-long vegetarian and had 2 super healthy kids and she can also slap you in the face with her current test results at age 43. EFSA is as corrupt and false as the FDA. Losers!

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