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New trans-Tasman nutrient reference values

3 May 2006

New trans-Tasman nutrient reference values

For the first time New Zealand and Australia have developed joint recommendations for the nutrient intakes people need to keep healthy and to reduce their risk of chronic disease.

The technical reports (Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand) provide recommendations to help dietitians, nutritionists and other health professionals accurately assess the dietary needs of individuals and groups. They are based on the latest and best scientific advice and set the same standards on both sides of the Tasman.

Ministry of Health team leader and senior advisor for nutrition, Elizabeth Aitken, says the new Nutrient Reference Values incorporate the previously used term Recommended Dietary Intakes (RDIs). The new recommendations cover more nutrients, set multiple levels and provide guidance on the dietary pattern required to reduce the risk of chronic disease, such as heart disease and diabetes.

For example, the new folate values include recommendations for prevention of deficiency and to reduce the risks of neural tube defects in babies.

"The recommendations provide a more comprehensive guide to the suggested intake of over 30 essential nutrients. These include protein, dietary fibre, essential fatty acids, and vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, folate, iron, calcium, iodine, selenium, and sodium,?? she said.

"In some instances the recommended nutrient intakes will have increased under the Nutrient Reference Values.??

Elizabeth Aitken said for many people, meeting their recommended nutrient intake could be as simple as increasing the number of servings of vegetables, fruits and wholegrain cereals they eat. Eating reduced-fat dairy products, lean meats and a small amount of plant-based fats and oils was also key.

But she said it was important to note that the recommendations may not meet the specific nutritional requirements of individuals with health conditions or diseases, or for premature babies.

The recommendations arise from a joint project between the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and the New Zealand Ministry of Health.

Copies of the Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand are available from the Ministry of Health website at: http://www.moh.govt.nz/publications

Please see accompanying Questions and Answers (below) for additional information - note that a second, more detailed Q and A word document is included for those seeking more indepth information.

ENDS

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