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Food Nutr Res. 2012;56. doi: 10.3402/fnr.v56i0.5728. Epub 2012 Apr 2.

Vitamins and minerals: issues associated with too low and too high population intakes.

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National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands.


There is an ongoing increase in the availability of foods fortified with micronutrients and dietary supplements. This may result in differing intakes of micronutrients within the population and perhaps larger differences in intakes. Insight into population micronutrient intakes and evaluation of too low or too high intakes is required to see whether there are potential problems regarding inadequacy or excessive intakes. Too low population intakes are evaluated against an estimated average requirement; potential too high population intakes are evaluated against a tolerable upper intake level (UL). Additional health effects, seriousness, and incidence of these health effects are not considered but these can be taken into account in a benefit-risk assessment. Furthermore, authorities would like to regulate food fortification and supplementation in such a way that most of the population is not at risk of potentially high intakes. Several models are available for estimating maximum levels of micronutrients for food fortification and dietary supplements. Policy makers and risk managers need to decide how to divide the 'free space' between food fortification and/or dietary supplements, while protecting populations from adverse health effects.


excessive; inadequate; intake; minerals; vitamins

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