Safety of micronutrients – Part 3: Minerals
As concentrated sources of micronutrients designed to supplement the normal diet, dietary supplements can be used to balance specific dietary deficits or to ensure adequate intakes. However, in some cases too high an intake of micronutrients can have adverse effects on health or cause undesirable side effects; for this reason it is necessary to define maximum intakes to guarantee the safety of their use in dietary supplements. Since the European legislative authority has not yet established uniform maximum intakes across the whole of Europe, manufacturers of dietary supplements and fortified foods are guided by recommended daily amounts and scientifically recognized upper limits for safe total daily intakes. This also applies to safe intakes for minerals present in the body, whether as macro-elements in concentrations of at least 50 mg per kg dry body weight, or as trace elements (micro-elements) in concentrations of under 50 mg per kg body weight.
The Importance of micronutrients for cancer patients
Depending on the location of the tumor and the sex of the patient, up to 90% of cancer sufferers take dietary supplements containing antioxidant and immune-stabilizing micronutrients. Whilst some oncologists are concerned that dietary supplements could impair the effectiveness of chemo- or radiotherapy, recent studies increasingly indicate that medication-oriented supplementation with antioxidants like vitamin C and selenium or other micronutrients like vitamin D could improve tolerance of tumor therapies and hence patient compliance, leading to a fall in the rate of therapy discontinuation. This could increase the response to therapies and therefore improve prognosis and patients’ quality of life.
Experts from the European Food Safety Authority conclude that supplemental eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid from algal oil sources up to five grams daily can be safely taken as there are no safety concerns for adults.
A new study from Australia reports that low blood concentrations of vitamin B1, B2, B12 and folate seem to play a role in the development of fat cells and childhood obesity.