Dietary Guidelines preview: nutrients to increase

by Jeff Gelski
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Vitamin D, calcium, potassium and fiber are under-consumed across the entire U.S. population, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee said when meeting for a seventh and final time Dec. 15. The D.G.A.C. said iron is under-consumed by adolescents and pre-menopausal women.

While agreeing the lack of certain nutrients is a concern in the diets of many Americans, Alice Wilkinson, vice-president of quality and nutritional R. & D. for Watson Inc., West Haven, Conn., said food formulators wanting to add the needed nutrients may face processing and sensory issues.

“Your body needs a ton of (potassium),” she said. “Unfortunately, potassium and food don’t always go hand in hand.”

Potassium may be linked with other minerals, as is the case with potassium chloride, she said. Getting a significant amount of potassium in a product thus may require huge doses.

Calcium also is linked with other minerals and may require higher doses to achieve desired levels in food products, she said. Examples include dicalcium phosphate that is 23% calcium, calcium carbonate that is 40% calcium, and calcium gluconate that is 9% calcium.

Ms. Wilkinson said iron has been shown to cause oxidation and rancidity as well as color changes. Formulating with iron may require extra work, such as manipulating particle size.

“You can put iron in almost anything,” Ms. Wilkinson said. “You just have to make sure you balance it right.”

Vitamin D and potassium also were mentioned in the March 3 Federal Register. The Food and Drug Administration, in proposing changes to the Nutrition Facts Panel, proposed requiring the declaration of vitamin D and potassium.

Lallemand, Montreal, offers vitamin D baker’s yeast. “Good” and “excellent” claims for vitamin D are possible when using vitamin D baker’s yeast from Lallemand.

“Once the final regulations are released, we will all know better how to present the vitamin D information in an approved manner,” Lallemand said. “Some bakeries are already highlighting the vitamin D content in their products, but the new labeling should allow, or require, this information to be more prominently displayed.”

The F.D.A. in 2012 amended the food additive regulations to provide for the use of vitamin D baker’s yeast as a source of vitamin D at levels not to exceed 400 International Units (I.U.s) of vitamin D per 100 grams in the finished food if yeast is the source of the Vitamin D. If other sources of vitamin D are used, the upper limit remains 90 I.U. per 100 grams of baked product. The 90 I.U. level makes “good source” or “excellent source” difficult, according to Lallemand.

According to an Angus Reid survey performed in the United States in July of 2013, 85% of Americans believe vitamin D plays a great-to-moderate role in their health, which was an increase from 79% in 2010 and 76% in 2009. Consumers in the survey most commonly associated health benefits of vitamin D as osteoporosis and fracture (41%), cardiovascular disease (20%) and colds (19%).

At least one group will keep pushing for choline’s inclusion in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015. The Healthy Nation Coalition sent a letter criticizing various aspects of past guidelines to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. About 600 people, including clinicians, academics, farmers and ranchers, signed the letter.

One part of the letter recognized that eggs and meat are sources of choline and claimed that dietary guidance limiting the consumption of eggs and meat thus restricts choline intake.

“Current choline intakes are far below adequate levels, and choline deficiency is thought to contribute to liver disease, atherosclerosis and neurological disorders,” the letter said.

Ms. Wilkinson said choline is found in the yolk of eggs. She said she agreed it was an under-consumed nutrient, but she doubted whether the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 will push heavily for increased choline consumption.

“Choline would be great,” Ms. Wilkinson said. “There’s very good data on the need for choline in the diet. It’s basically brain food.”

Next, the D.G.A.C. will issue a final report to the secretaries of the U.S.D.A. and the H.H.S. Throughout the winter, spring and summer of 2015, the U.S.D.A. and the H.H.S. will consider the D.G.A.C.’s recommendations along with public comments and agency comments. The H.H.S. and the U.S.D.A. jointly should publish the eighth edition of the dietary guidelines by the end of 2015.
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