'Ground-breaking' Nordic Nutrition Recommendations spotlight overlooked nutrients

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

Getty | Sasin Paraksa
Getty | Sasin Paraksa

Related tags Nutrition recommendations

The newly updated Nordic Nutrition Recommendations, set to assist countries around the globe in creating nutrition guidance to benefit people and the planet, includes eight previously overlooked nutrients and increased recommendations by more than 20% for a further nine nutrients.

The sixth edition of the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR) is the biggest in the report’s 40-year history and it considers the health of both the people and the planet.

The launch has brought about debate and attracted media attention both in the Nordic countries and internationally, primarily due to the recommendations about consuming a maximum of 350 grams of meat per week.

Introducing the report to the world in an internationally streamed online event, Prof Rune Blomhoff, of Oslo University, project leader for the new edition of the NNR, summarised that the report recommends a predominantly plant-based diet, high in vegetables, fruit, berries, pulses, potatoes, and wholegrains, with ample fresh fish and nuts. The report advises limited red meat and poultry, moderate intake of low-fat dairy, and minimal processed meat, alcohol, and processed foods containing high amounts of fat, salt and sugar.

He explained that the experts behind the report recalculated recommendations for all micronutrients for the first time in NNR history.  

As such, eight nutrients have received recommendations for the first time: Vitamin K, biotic, pantothenic acid, choline, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum and fluoride.

And recommended intakes have been increased by more than 20% for nine nutrients: vitamins C, E, B6 and B12, folate, calcium, thiamine, zinc and selenium.

Blomhoff explained these re-calculations were made via extensive systematic literature search and global harmonisation.

 “I think this is a ground-breaking report with high scientific quality and the best possible documentation to provide policies that significantly reduce the burden of diet-related disease in Nordic and Baltic countries, and reduce the environmental impact of our food consumption,” he asserted.

Dr Emma Derbyshire, a Nutritionist in the UK and Director of Nutritional Insight Ltd, says these recommendations are particularly ground-breaking due to the fact they consider the environment alongside nutrition and health. 

Discussing the micronutrient recommendations, she notes they have included recommendations for often overlooked nutrients such as Choline. 

"They also include a recommendation for fluoride which is novel and have a section dedicated to antioxidants and phytochemicals although reference values for these are not given. 

"Within each summary section they have sub-section entitles ‘deficiency or at risk groups’ which is particularly useful.  For example, for choline they report that a choline-free diet results in liver damage - corrected by 500 mg choline per day. No specific risk groups have been established, although pregnant and lactating women and children are likely more vulnerable.”

Speaking broadly about the creation of the report, Katy Harris, senior policy fellow for the Stockholm Environment Institute, said this report was five years in the making, involving the contribution of many hundreds of researchers and experts.

“It’s the most comprehensive scientific basis in the world for how we should eat, not only for our health, but for the health of our planet.

“The recommendations are based on the best available science advice for a plant-based diet.

“These findings are significant, not only for the Nordics. The world is watching these pioneering effort and the report provides an evidence based foundation that can assist other countries in providing dietary guidance for its citizens.”

Also speaking in the conference, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), revealed that later this year, WHO will be releasing new healthy diet guidelines in line with these Nordic recommendations.

“It will introduce the concept of healthy diet that considers environmental impact. We are also looking to make health central to climate negotiations.”    


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