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Overview of methods used to evaluate the adequacy of nutrient intakes for individuals and populations

  • Blanca Román-Viñas (a1), Lluís Serra-Majem (a1) (a2), Lourdes Ribas-Barba (a1), Joy Ngo (a1), Alicia García-Álvarez (a1), Trudy M. A. Wijnhoven (a3), Garden Tabacchi (a4), Francesco Branca (a5), Jeanne de Vries (a6) and Lisette C. P. G. M. de Groot (a6)...


The objective of the present paper is to review the methods of measuring micronutrient intake adequacy for individuals and for populations in order to ascertain best practice. A systematic review was conducted to locate studies on the methodological aspects of measuring nutrient adequacy. The results showed that for individuals, qualitative methods (to find probability of adequacy) and quantitative methods (to find confidence of adequacy) have been proposed for micronutrients where there is enough data to set an average nutrient requirement (ANR). If micronutrients do not have ANR, an adequate intake (AI) is often defined and can be used to assess adequacy, provided the distribution of daily intake over a number of days is known. The probability of an individual's intake being excessive can also be compared with the upper level of safe intake and the confidence of this estimate determined in a similar way. At the population level, adequacy can be judged from the ANR using the probability approach or its short cut – the estimated average requirement cut-point method. If the micronutrient does not have an ANR, adequacy cannot be determined from the average intake and must be expressed differently. The upper level of safe intake can be used for populations in a similar way to that of individuals. All of the methodological studies reviewed were from the American continent and all used the methodology described in the Institute of Medicine publications. The present methodology should now be adapted for use in Europe.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Lluís Serra-Majem, fax +34 93 4034543, email


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