Bioactive nutrients need standards, new CRN-I report says

Real public health benefits can be realized from bioactive nutrients, but consumers need clarity when it comes to targeting goals for intake of bioactives in food and dietary supplements.

Authoritative scientific bodies should set standards for bioactive nutrients, says a new article, Nutrient reference value: non-communicable disease endpoints — a conference report, published online ahead of print in the European Journal of Nutrition.

According to the report’s eight co-authors, real public health benefits can be realized from bioactive nutrients, but consumers need clarity when it comes to targeting goals for intake of bioactives in food and dietary supplements. The authors call on the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the Codex Alimentarius Commission to establish bioactive reference values that promote health or contribute to a reduction in risk of non-communicable disease.

The paper is a detailed report of the presentations by the eight speakers at the CRN-International (CRN-I) symposium held in November in Kronberg, Germany.

“There is a sufficient framework and relevant scientific data to begin the process of establishing standards for specific bioactives,” said James C. Griffiths, Ph.D., vice president of scientific and international affairs for CRN-I, and co-author of the article. “Defined intake values for bioactives would benefit consumers, of course, as well as guide research scientists, funders, and governments — not to mention the boost that quantifiable standards would give to innovation of new dietary supplements and functional food products.”

Bioactives are constituents in foods or dietary supplements, other than those required to meet basic human nutritional needs, responsible for changes in health. For example, the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are well-known bioactives with a robust body of evidence supporting their health benefits, especially in reducing the risk of cardiovascular heart disease. In addition, substantial scientific evidence demonstrates the benefits of other bioactives, such as flavanols, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin and soybean isoflavones isolated from plants and animals.

 “If an authoritative body like IOM or Codex would establish these intake values, then those key bioactives would take their rightful place within national and international nutrition policy and strengthen public health initiatives,” Griffiths said.

Indeed, the paper pointedly notes that the time for parochialism and market protectionism based on unsound reasoning is over, stating, “The regulatory and scientific communities need to revisit their historical biases in favor of a more rational outcome objective.”

In addition to Griffiths, the co-authors of the article are Joanne R. Lupton, Ph.D., Texas A&M University; Jeffrey B. Blumberg, Ph.D., F.A.S.N., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., Tufts University; Mary R. L’Abbe, Ph.D., University of Toronto; Mark A. LeDoux, Natural Alternatives International, Inc.; Harry B. Rice, Ph.D., Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED); Dr. Clemens von Schacky, Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich; and Ann L. Yaktine, Ph.D., R.D., U.S. Food Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine.

This is the sixth publication of CRN-I conference proceedings, with previous conference reports published in Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, and for the last four years, in the European Journal of Nutrition. Abstracts of the published proceedings are available on the CRN-I website in 10 languages.

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