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To review evidence on the associations between vitamin B12 intake and its biomarkers, vitamin B12 intake and its functional health outcomes, and vitamin B12 biomarkers and functional health outcomes.
A systematic review was conducted by searching electronic databases, until January 2012, using a standardized strategy developed in the EURRECA network. Relevant articles were screened and sorted based on title and abstract, then based on full text, and finally included if they met inclusion criteria. A total of sixteen articles were included in the review.
Articles covered four continents: America (n 4), Europe (n 8), Africa (n 1) and Asia (n 3).
Population groups included healthy infants, children and adolescents, and pregnant and lactating women.
From the total number of 5815 papers retrieved from the initial search, only sixteen were eligible according to the inclusion criteria: five for infants, five for children and adolescents, and six for pregnant and lactating women.
Only one main conclusion could be extracted from this scarce number of references: a positive association between vitamin B12 intake and serum vitamin B12 in the infant group. Other associations were not reported in the eligible papers or the results were not provided in a consistent manner. The low number of papers that could be included in our systematic review is probably due to the attention that is currently given to research on vitamin B12 in elderly people. Our observations in the current systematic review justify the idea of performing well-designed studies on vitamin B12 in young populations.
To signal key issues for harmonising approaches for establishing micronutrient recommendations by explaining observed variation in recommended intakes of folate, vitamin B12, Fe and Zn for adults and elderly people.
We explored differences in recommended intakes of folate, vitamin B12, Fe and Zn for adults between nine reports on micronutrient recommendations. Approaches used for setting recommendations were compared as well as eminence-based decisions regarding the selection of health indicators indicating adequacy of intakes and the consulted evidence base.
In nearly all reports, recommendations were based on the average nutrient requirement. Variation in recommended folate intakes (200–400 μg/d) was related to differences in the consulted evidence base, whereas variation in vitamin B12 recommendations (1·4–3·0 μg/d) was due to the selection of different CV (10–20 %) and health indicators (maintenance of haematological status or basal losses). Variation in recommended Fe intakes (men 8–10 mg/d, premenopausal women 14·8–19·6 mg/d, postmenopausal women 7·5–10·0 mg/d) was explained by different assumed reference weights and bioavailability factors (10–18 %). Variation in Zn recommendations (men 7–14 mg/d, women 4·9–9·0 mg/d) was also explained by different bioavailability factors (24–48 %) as well as differences in the consulted evidence base.
For the harmonisation of approaches for setting recommended intakes of folate, vitamin B12, Fe and Zn across European countries, standardised methods are needed to (i) select health indicators and define adequate biomarker concentrations, (ii) make assumptions about inter-individual variation in requirements, (iii) derive bioavailability factors and (iv) collate, select, interpret and integrate evidence on requirements.
To examine the workings of the nutrition-related scientific advisory bodies in Europe, paying particular attention to the internal and external contexts within which they operate.
Desk research based on two data collection strategies: a questionnaire completed by key informants in the field of micronutrient recommendations and a case study that focused on mandatory folic acid (FA) fortification.
Questionnaire-based data were collected across thirty-five European countries. The FA fortification case study was conducted in the UK, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Czech Republic and Hungary.
Varied bodies are responsible for setting micronutrient recommendations, each with different statutory and legal models of operation. Transparency is highest where there are standing scientific advisory committees (SAC). Where the standing SAC is created, the range of expertise and the terms of reference for the SAC are determined by the government. Where there is no dedicated SAC, the impetus for the development of micronutrient recommendations and the associated policies comes from interested specialists in the area. This is typically linked with an ad hoc selection of a problem area to consider, lack of openness and transparency in the decisions and over-reliance on international recommendations.
Even when there is consensus about the science behind micronutrient recommendations, there is a range of other influences that will affect decisions about the policy approaches to nutrition-related public health. This indicates the need to document the evidence that is drawn upon in the decisions about nutrition policy related to micronutrient intake.
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