Intake of selected nutrients from foods, from fortification and from supplements in various European countries

  • Albert Flynn
  • Tero Hirvonen
  • Gert B. M. Mensink
  • Marga C. Ocké
  • Lluis Serra-Majem
  • Katarzyna Stos
  • Lucjan Szponar
  • Inge Tetens
  • Aida Turrini
  • Reg Fletcher
  • Tanja Wildemann
Keywords: micronutrients, EU legislation, upper safe levels, adults, children


Background: Recent European Union regulation requires setting of maximum amount of micronutrients in
dietary supplements or foods taking into account the tolerable upper intake levels (ULs) established by
scientific risk assessment and population reference intakes.
Objective: To collect and evaluate recently available data on intakes of selected vitamins and minerals from
conventional foods, food supplements and fortified foods in adults and children. Intake of calcium, copper,
iodine, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, folic acid, niacin and total vitamin A/retinol, B<sub>6</sub>, D and
E was derived from nationally representative surveys in Denmark, Germany, Finland, Ireland, Italy, the
Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom. Intake of high consumers, defined as the 95th
percentile of each nutrient, was compared to the UL.
Results: For most nutrients, adults and children generally consume considerably less than the UL with
exceptions being retinol, zinc, iodine, copper and magnesium. The major contributor to intakes for all
nutrients and in all countries is from foods in the base diet. The patterns of food supplements and voluntary
fortification vary widely among countries with food supplements being responsible for the largest differences
in total intakes. In the present study, for those countries with data on fortified foods, fortified foods do not
significantly contribute to higher intakes for any nutrient. Total nutrient intake expressed as percentage of the
UL is generally higher in children than in adults.
Conclusion: The risk of excessive intakes is relatively low for the majority of nutrients with a few exceptions.
Children are the most vulnerable group as they are more likely to exhibit high intakes relative to the UL.
There is a need to develop improved methods for estimating intakes of micronutrients from fortified foods
and food supplements in future dietary surveys.

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How to Cite
Flynn A., Hirvonen T., Mensink G. B. M., Ocké M. C., Serra-Majem L., Stos K., Szponar L., Tetens I., Turrini A., Fletcher R., & Wildemann T. (2017). Intake of selected nutrients from foods, from fortification and from supplements in various European countries. Food & Nutrition Research, 53.
Supplement 1, 2009