21 Jun New micronutrient guidelines released
A recent set of guidelines published in Clinical Nutrition have unpacked some of the difficulties around understanding micronutrient requirements in clinical situations, but with results useful for population nutrition also.
The term micronutrient refers to the collective group of vitamins and trace elements (sometimes called minerals, e.g. iron, iodine, etc.). These nutrients are essential for good health, with wide-ranging consequences for inadequate intake. Two recent Thought for Food articles on the micronutrients calcium and vitamin E give good examples of the role of these micronutrients in our health and development.
The guidelines clarify definitions around micronutrient adequacy and deficiency, as well as the differences between recommended dietary allowance (RDA), adequate intake (AI), and dietary reference intake (DRI). The DELTA Model® uses all such values to calculate the global average requirement for nutrients. The value used depends on the strength of scientific evidence backing the requirement estimate: much stronger evidence exists for dietary requirements for protein than for vitamin E, for example.
Also of interest is the comprehensive tables linking micronutrient deficiency to disease development, and also the converse: diseases that can themselves lead to bodily deficiency. As is frequently the case for micronutrients, the existence of limited research data itself limits the understanding of the role of these nutrients in disease.
Understanding nutrient requirements – including micronutrients – is key for understanding how individuals and populations can be nourished in the future. Consensus nutrient requirement guidelines like this are foundational for models like the DELTA Model® in understanding how to feed the global population in the future.