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Harmonisation of micronutrient-based dietary standards globally: Challenges and future developments


R.S. Gibson, PhD, FRSNZ, Research Professor. R.S. Gibson, Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand. Email:


Aim:  The terminology and frame work for setting nutrient-based dietary standards (NBDS) varies across countries leading to discrepancies in health, food policies and trade. Hence, harmonising approaches for NBDS warrants investigation.

Methods:  A working group reviewed the terminology used to define NBDS and upper levels, statistical approaches for their use for individuals and populations, criteria to establish requirements, extrapolate and interpolate missing data, bioavailability issues and the potential impact of inter-individual variations other than life-stage and gender on nutrient requirements.

Results:  The group proposed the term—nutrient intake values (NIVs)—that include the average nutrient requirement (ANR) and upper nutrient level. An individual nutrient level (INLx) based on the ANR was also proposed, the x representing the percentile for an acceptable risk for inadequacy for an individual. To assess nutrient adequacy and plan diets for groups, use of the ANR cut-point or probability approach was recommended. In the future, NIVs may be set that take into account inter-individual differences in lifestyle, environment, health, genotype and epigenetics.

Conclusions:  Use of the proposed terminology and framework for NIVs has global potential for evaluating nutrient intakes and diets for individuals and populations and for use in several aspects of food and nutrition policy.