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New Dietary Levels May Change Eating
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A new set of daily nutrition standards are being established to give health-conscious people a better guide for eating right.
The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences is developing new dietary standards for the United States and Canada. These standards are being released in seven reports that should be complete by 2000.
Dr. Barbara McLaurin, nutrition specialist at Mississippi State University's Extension Service, explained the impact these changes, known as Dietary Reference Intakes, will have on nutrition guidelines.
"The Dietary Reference Intakes expand and update the Recommended Dietary Allowances as new scientific evidence comes along," McLaurin said. "The Recommended Dietary Allowances are recognized in food and health fields as the accepted standards of nutrients adequate for the maintenance of good health."
The first report came out in 1997 and dealt with calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, vitamin D and fluoride. The only major changes to recommended intakes is for calcium.
"The first report of the Dietary Reference Intakes calls for people to consume more calcium," McLaurin said. "The report found there is an even larger difference than previously assumed between what calcium we need and what we actually get each day."
Before being updated, daily nutrient standards called for preteens and teens to consume 1,200 milligrams a day of calcium. The Dietary Reference Intakes now call for 1,300 milligrams a day. Similarly, adult recommended intakes increased from 800 milligrams per day to 1,000 milligrams per day, and 1,200 milligrams per day for those 50 and older.
"One of the major differences between Recommended Dietary Allowances and Dietary Reference Intakes is that the existing guidelines focused on getting enough of certain nutrients to prevent deficiency diseases, but the new recommendations also attempt to set the upper limits of nutrient intake," McLaurin said. "Limits are especially important in light of the use of dietary supplements and the fortification of foods."
The first Dietary Reference Intake reported on nutrients related to bone health. The report to be issued this year will look at folate and other B vitamins. Remaining reports will cover antioxidants, macronutrients, trace elements, electrolytes and water, and other food components.
"There will be a consumer education program to explain these new standards, and there may be label changes, but that has not been determined yet," McLaurin said.