Mismatch Between DRIs and Nutrient Values on Many Nutritional Supplements Labels: What it Means to the Consumer
A report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, (2017), on guiding principles for developing DRIs based on chronic diseases, does not dispute assertions by Hickey and Roberts (2004), on inadequacies of methodological approaches to establish DRIs and their subsequent use in intervention against chronic diseases. In fact developers of the DRIs acknowledge that traditionally, a major consideration in the DRI process has been nutritional adequacy, i.e., for nutrients deemed nutritionally essential for normal physiological functioning), and therefore the scientific literature is reviewed by the DRI committee to determine the most appropriate indicator of adequacy that will be used to set the requirement for the nutrient, whereby possible indicators of adequacy could include prevention of signs or symptoms of a nutrient deficiency disease, biomarkers of the nutrient’s function (e.g., activity of an enzyme that uses the nutrient as a cofactor), and biomarkers of body stores of the nutrient.
Currently, in contrast to the previous method of establishing U.S. RDAs and Canadian RNIs, the current DRI process, which began in the early 1990s also incorporates consideration of chronic diseases. With this comes emerging challenges and issues in the process of establishing DRIs with the goal of gathering ideas for improving the process in the future and as scientific knowledge expands. The challenges include finding appropriate methodological approaches as currently it is an issue of expert panels of specialist from various fields: nutrition, epidemiology, toxicology, etc., which calls into question issues of an evidence-based process. It is pretty much work in progress, and currently the use of DRIs for planning and assessing diets for individuals and groups is unlikely to be of any significant value for intervention approaches to chronic diseases.
The bottom line:
DRIs could be of value in prevention and treatment of classic nutrition deficiency diseases.
DRIs are currently not yet up to the task on prevention and/or treatment of nutrition-related chronic noncommunicable diseases.
Mismatch between DRIs values and nitritional values found on labels of nutritional supplements brings some confusion to the consumer, and at the same time raises question on whether any nutritional advice information, derived from the DRIs, is of any value or may be misleading to the consumer.