The Council for Responsible Nutrition-International announced the publication of the conference report: “Advancing Nutrition Science to Meet Evolving Global Health Needs” in the European Journal of Nutrition summarizing the proceedings of its annual Scientific Symposium in Düsseldorf, Germany. The event earlier this year brought together experts from around the world to shed light on the critical issues surrounding global nutrition challenges and policy efforts.
The symposium provided a comprehensive overview of health challenges and policy recommendations to address growing gaps in nutrition and obstacles to better health, emphasizing the importance of precision and personalized nutrition.
According to the report, global challenges related to nutrition and health encompass many diverse populations, including vulnerable groups, such as preschool children and women of reproductive age.
The meeting focused on three key nutrient categories that have the potential to make a difference globally:
- Choline is an essential nutrient for early life development. Choline intake during pregnancy boosts brain development and inadequate dietary choline intake is associated with an increased risk of neural tube defects, making it a critical nutrient for expectant mothers and early childhood, the organizationn said.
- NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) replenishment has a role in preventing neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Dietary modifications and nutritional supplementation were identified as potential strategies to reduce the risk of these debilitating conditions, the organization said.
- Xanthophyll carotenoids, like lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin are natural lipid-soluble micronutrients that have potent biological activities that may protect against age-related diseases and vision-related conditions, the organization noted.
"Developing science demonstrates that choline, NAD replenishment, and xanthophyll carotenoids are helpful in preventing certain health problems,” said James Griffiths, co-author and senior vice president, international and scientific affairs at CRN. “Choline, for example, helps reduce issues with the brain and spinal cord in babies, NAD-replenishment can protect your brain against neurodegenerative diseases, and xanthophyll carotenoids help prevent the deterioration of eye and brain health.”
The body of evidence presented by experts at the 2023 CRN-I Symposium on these nutrient categories warrants an examination of setting nutrient reference values both globally and in specific countries, Griffiths said.
The event also underscored the persistent problem of malnutrition in many parts of the world. The COVID-19 pandemic and rising food prices have raised concerns about reversing progress in addressing various forms of malnutrition, including when it is related to micronutrients.
As people live longer, the focus of nutrition recommendations is shifting from preventing nutrient deficiencies to supporting optimal health, especially in the face of rising rates of age-related and chronic diseases. The forum noted the importance of precision nutrition, including factors like age, gender, environment, genetics and the human microbiome. Understanding the role of the microbiome in nutrient metabolism and its impact on individual health was highlighted.
A lack of comprehensive dietary intake data, which is vital for understanding dietary patterns and informing policies, was emphasized. Efforts are needed to improve data collection and analysis. In addition, a need for better biomarkers for essential nutrients was discussed. Identifying markers of biological versus chronological age and functional biomarkers of “healthspan” were identified as areas of significant interest.
The symposium concluded that addressing these global nutrition challenges requires a multi-faceted approach, including innovative policy shifts and evidence-based solutions. Researchers, healthcare practitioners, and policymakers must work together to find effective strategies to optimize nutrient status and prevent health-related issues.