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Publication of the new dietary reference values for the vitamin and mineral intake of the French population

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News of 23/04/2021

Acquired mainly through our diet, vitamins and minerals are essential to our health, growth and body functions. ANSES is updating the dietary reference values specifying the vitamin and mineral intake required to meet the nutritional needs of the population, without leading to excess. These values will then become the references used by all professionals in the nutrition and health sector.

Dietary reference values for each sector of the population

ANSES has now finished updating the dietary reference values for the vitamin and mineral intake of the adult population. This information also covers the vitamins and minerals that it was unable to include in 2016. At the same time, the Agency has re-assessed the dietary reference values for specific groups: infants, children, adolescents, pregnant women, breast-feeding women and the elderly. These values had not been updated since 2001. 

The values published today constitute the new reference values for the vitamin and mineral intake of people in good health in France. They are available to health professionals. These reference values are particularly useful for individual preventive dietary monitoring or for therapeutic support.  They can also be used by the health authorities for public health purposes, in particular to estimate the number of people whose vitamin and mineral intake is inadequate or excessive, or to establish food consumption guidelines.

Meeting needs in vitamins D and B9 remains a public health issue

In 2019, over 70% of French adults were still not getting an adequate intake of vitamin D, and 6.5% even showed a deficiency. Looking beyond possible management measures – such as fortifying foods with vitamin D or providing personalised supplementation through the healthcare system – the Agency reiterates that vitamin D needs can be met by:

  • exposure to the sun: by exposing your skin to the sun for 15 to 20 minutes in the late morning or in the afternoon, you get an adequate daily intake of vitamin D;
  • eating foods that are rich in vitamin D, including oily fish (herring, sardines, salmon and mackerel), certain mushrooms, such as chanterelles, ceps and morels, dairy products fortified with vitamin D, egg yolks, dark chocolate, butter and margarine, etc.

For women, particular emphasis must be placed on achieving a sufficient intake of vitamin B9. To prevent any risk of malformations in unborn children, it is essential for all women likely to become pregnant to have a sufficient intake of vitamin B9. This approach is protective, since it takes account of unplanned pregnancies. ANSES reiterates that vitamin B9 needs can be covered by eating pulses, green leafy vegetables, yeast flakes, wheat germ or egg yolk, which can be excellent sources.

Research to adapt reference values to dietary habits

The studies providing the basis for these dietary reference values were primarily conducted in a Western-type dietary context. ANSES therefore considers that research is necessary to adapt these reference values to other contexts and other dietary habits, particularly in overseas territories.