Exploring the routes to optimal nutrient intake by considering
the related risks and health benefits

Strategic Vision

The task force encompasses the analysis of knowledge gaps between dietary requirements, intake, status and recommendations.

Background

The focus of the activities is on different aspects of how nutrient intake can be optimised to provide an optimal balance between adequacy and safety, with extra care for vulnerable population groups.

Objectives

  • Address scientific approaches to explore how to better estimate nutrient intake and status of various at-risk groups of the population.
  • Assess the health risks/benefit s of adding macronutrients, micronutrients and specific food substances to foods.

Achieved Results

State-of-the-art knowledge on the contribution of conventional foods, dietary supplements and fortified foods to the micronutrient intake in elderly Europeans – insights in A. Berendsen et al., 2016 that focuses on the Dutch elderly population.

Scientific Impact

  • The preliminary results of the work of the expert groups have been disseminated at international conferences such as International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids, International World Iodine Association (WIA) Conference on Iodine in Food Systems and Health, Bioavailability 2018 Conference and others.
  • The publication on ‘Dietary Fibre in Europe: Current State of Knowledge on Definitions, Sources, Recommendations, Intakes and Relationships to Health’ (A.M. Stephen et al., 2017) was featured on the Cambridge Core Blog as an Article of the Month of November for 2017.

For more detailed information, please contact Nevena Hristozova at nhristozova@ilsieurope.be or Adam Coventry at acoventry@ilsieurope.be.

Task Force Members


* Scientific Advisor

Expert Groups

Intake and Sources of Iodine in European Countries

Background & Objectives

  • Gain a better insight into the magnitude of iodine deficiency in Europe.
  • Explore what further actions are needed in terms of iodine fortification in order to reduce the risk of iodine malnutrition.

Output
This activity aims to systematically review the current knowledge on both recommendations for and emerging scientific insights to iodine intake and propose concrete actions, e.g. the need for revising iodisation strategies, increasing sodium in crops via biofortification and exploring other vehicles for fortification besides salt.

Interactions of Micronutrients with Other Constituents of the Food Matrix

Background & Objectives

  • Explore the potential interaction of micronutrients with substances in the food matrix.
  • Establish the role of such interactions on both bioaccessibility and bioavailability, thereby influencing the efficacy of fortification of food with micronutrients.
  • Review the methodologies used for assessment of interactions and availability of iron, zinc and calcium.

Output
This activity aims to:

  • systematically review the simple food matrices in infant formula and infant/child foods for potential micronutrient interactions;
  • propose a framework of methods to assess micronutrient bioaccessibility and bioavailability.

Omega3 and Omega-6 PUFA Intakes, Ratios and Health Effects

In collaboration with the Early Nutrition and Long-Term Health Task Force.

Background & Objectives

  • Intake levels of total polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) in adults are available. However, information on intake of specific omega-3 and omega-6 PUFA in vulnerable populations is limited or sometimes lacking.
  • Experts have investigated the adequacy of current omega-3 and omega-6 PUFA intake in several vulnerable target groups (namely infants, children, adolescents, pregnant/lactating women and the elderly), by comparing intake data with current recommendations (Sioen et al., 2017).
  • Based on this review, other knowledge gaps are being identified and addressed.

Output
This expert group is developing a series of three manuscripts:

  • the first publication investigated current intake of total and specific omega-3 and omega-6 PUFA in European diets for the identified vulnerable groups (Sioen et al., 2017);
  • the second publication is a systematic review on arachidonic acid and its health effects (Calder et al., 2019);
  • the third manuscript will describe the relevance of omega-3 and omega-6 PUFA intake indexes and ratios as well as comparing them to absolute intake levels.

Contribution of Dietary Supplements, Nutrient Dense Food and Food Fortification to the Micronutrient Intake and Status of the Elderly

Objectives
The prevalence of malnutrition and undernutrition is high both in institutionalised and non-institutionalised elderly people. Therefore this multi-phase project intends to generate data that would support the optimisation of dietary guidelines specific for non-institutionalised elderly individuals.

Activity
A pilot database search phase looked into determining by which ratio the three product categories (i.e. micronutrient-dense food groups, micronutrient-fortified food groups and micronutrient supplements) contribute to the dietary intake or Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of elderly Dutch individuals in the highest versus lowest quartile of intake, for selected micronutrients (A. Berendsen et al., 2016). The next phase will determine whether the above calculated contribution to dietary intake is similar in other EU countries. In addition, the advantages and disadvantages of the above-mentioned product categories on the optimisation of dietary micronutrient intake will be investigated. The focus of the activity may shift from vitamins, minerals and trace-elements towards other essential nutrients.

Expected Output
Two sequential manuscripts are expected to be developed. The manuscript of Phase 1 was published in Nutrition Research (A. Berendsen et al., 2016). It focuses on the statistical methodology used to assess the relative contribution of each of the three product categories validated in part of the intake database of the EU-funded project ‘New Dietary Strategies Addressing the Specific Needs of the Elderly Population for Healthy Ageing in Europe – NU-AGE’. The NU-AGE study is performed in several different EU countries: Italy, France, the UK, the Netherlands and Poland. The Phase 2 manuscript will investigate the relative contributions of the three different product categories to the intake of micronutrients and other substances at EU level, and discuss the benefits, advantages and disadvantages of each product category. Dietary guidelines to optimise dietary intake of micronutrients by elderly individuals can be more practically applied by compiling and analysing data on the actual relative contribution of different food categories to the respective RDA. The main outcome of the project would be data-driven insight in potential strategies to improve micronutrient intake or status of elderly people that do not interfere with their daily dietary habits. The final data will give insight in food based solutions to increase micronutrient intake in the elderly population and will give information on the products regularly consumed by elderly in different countries. The outcomes will give a clear picture on the current role of fortified foods and will highlight where food fortification could be used to its full potential.

Adequacy of Dietary Fibre Intake of the European Population with Reference to both Total and Specific Types of Fibre – Completed

Objectives
Intake of total dietary fibre is not optimal in most European countries, in particular in vulnerable groups such as children. Total dietary fibre is important for the maintenance of good overall health and the prevention of chronic diseases, whereas specific fibre types could be recommended for their specific health benefits. The aim of this activity was to analyse specific types of fibre intake across Europe and compare it with current recommendations by reviewing the existing data.

Activity
The expert group reviewed and assessed existing data on recommended and actual intake of total and specific types of fibre in Europe. Data were collected from nutrient-based recommendations and surveys measuring fibre intake directly.

Output
This work resulted in a comprehensive review of the literature on dietary fibre intakes, source recommendations and health effects. Areas where scientific data are lacking are identified and need for further research on total and specific types of fibre are also highlighted. The expert group’s manuscript has been published in Nutrition Research Reviews.(A. Stephen et al., 2017)

Expert Group Members

Intake and Sources of Iodine in European Countries

Interactions of Micronutrients with Other Constituents of the Food Matrix

Omega-3 and Omega-6 PUFA Intakes, Ratios and Health Effects

*  ‘Indexes and Ratios’ Focus Group Members
** Arachidonic Acid and Health Effects’ Focus Group Members

Contribution of Dietary Supplements, Nutrient Dense Food and Food Fortification to the Micronutrient Intake and Status of the Elderly

Adequacy of Dietary Fibre Intake of the European Population with Reference to both Total and Specific Types of Fibre – Completed

Publications

All Publications

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