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.
Phytonutrient intakes in Europe
Fruit and vegetables make an important contribution to health, partly due to the phytonutrient composition, such as carotenoids and polyphenols. Generally, phytonutrient intakes increase in accordance with fruit and vegetable intakes across all European countries with the exception of lycopene (from tomatoes), which appears to be higher in some countries that consume less fruit and vegetables. Overall, intakes of phytonutrients are highly variable suggesting that whilst some individuals obtain healthy amounts, there may be others who do not gain all the potential benefits associated with phytonutrients in the diet. Based on European Food Safety Authority data, 9 from 15 countries consume less than 400 g fruit and vegetables per day (recommended by WHO), although even in the highest consuming countries such as Spain, 36% of the population do not reach target intake.
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