Proposals of the National Health Federation for additional/revised Codex Nutrient Reference Values (NRVs) for labelling purposes
The World Health Organization currently attributes one-third of all global deaths annually (15.3 million) to cardiovascular disease, and in 2000 over 6 million deaths occurred globally from cancer. Moreover, estimates predict that by 2020 the total number of cases of cancer will have increased by 73% in the developing world and by 29% in the developed world. By 2020 it is estimated that chronic diseases will account for almost three-quarters of all deaths worldwide.
Faced with these statistics we are forced to question the wisdom of assuming that populations are healthy merely because they don’t suffer from classical nutritional deficiency diseases such as scurvy, rickets beri-beri or pellagra.
Current estimates of nutritional sufficiency, be they RDAs, AIs, EARs or NRVs, do not set nutritional intakes with the concept of optimum health in mind. They are simply estimates of the amounts of nutrients that healthy populations would require to maintain normal function and health and to avoid nutritional deficiency diseases. This approach, in our opinion, is highly flawed.
Given the increasing prevalence in our societies of conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, asthma, eczema, psoriasis, allergies, arthritis, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and depression , we believe that by definition our current system of nutritional values is no longer applicable.
Moreover, the consistency of evidence in the scientific literature clearly demonstrates that individuals who consume nutritional supplements have a lower risk of contracting serious disease - a position that has now been taken by two of the world's leading medical journals.
The Journal of the American Medical Association, for example, recently reversed its historical anti-vitamin policy by acknowledging that "it appears prudent for all adults to take vitamin supplements". The article, authored by Robert H. Fletcher and Kathleen M. Fairfield from the Harvard School of Medicine, examined English-language articles about vitamins in relation to chronic diseases published between 1966 and 2002, and concluded that inadequate intake of several vitamins has been linked to the development of diseases including coronary heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis.
Similarly, the April 9, 1998 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine featured an article entitled "Eat Right and Take a Multivitamin" that was based on a succession of positive studies showing the disease-prevention benefits resulting from the consumption of nutritional supplements.
We therefore consider that it would be a major step forward for global public health if the CCNFSDU were to finally accept and support the growing medical evidence that vitamin and mineral supplements prevent disease, promote optimum health and prolong lifespan. Research has shown that there appears to be little risk to supplement users of experiencing adverse side effects due to excessive intakes of micronutrients.
We therefore propose the NRVs contained in this document as the minimum preventative intakes necessary to prevent disease, promote optimum health and prolong lifespan in the majority of people.
We also strongly believe that it is the duty of the CCNFSDU to make recommendations that advance nutritional welfare, prevent disease, promote optimum health and prolong lifespan , and that as such a general recommendation supporting the use of nutritional supplements would admirably fulfil all of these criteria.
Paul Anthony Taylor
29th March 2004
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