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Vitamins and minerals are essential but: getting the dose right is crucial!

01/2013, 14.01.2013

At the International Green Week 2013, the BfR provides information on the use and risks of food supplements

How much vitamins and minerals are necessary to stay healthy? Normally a balanced diet contains everything that healthy people need. Food supplements in the form of pills and tablets are usually superfluous. A dose of vitamins and minerals that is too high may cause damage to health. If a varied diet is eaten, the body gets all the nutrients it needs. "Taking food supplements in an uncontrolled manner can pose health risks", says BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. At the International Green Week which takes place at Booth 101 in Hall 3.2 (Farm Experience) between 18 and 27 January 2012, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) will explain where it makes sense to take food supplements and when it possibly poses a health risk.

At the BfR booth “Getting the dose right is crucial!” visitors learn what and how many vitamins and minerals are contained in meat, dairy products, fruit and vegetables. The BfR booth contains shelves with different food imitations but unlike a supermarket, they are sorted by their nutrient contents. On the basis of this information, visitors can fill their shopping trolley and check whether their normal eating habits cover their daily requirement of vitamins and minerals. Using a large nutrition pyramid, you can put together a menu plan which covers all nutrients without the need for any food supplements or enriched foods. BfR scientists provide advice in putting together a varied diet.

With an interactive booth at the Green Week, the BfR aims to sensitise consumers for the subject of food supplements. In view of the large variety and the increasing distribution of food supplements via the Internet, the goal is to protect consumers, not only from the possible health risks through overdosing or unwanted interaction with other food supplements or medication but also from deception.

For healthy persons who eat a normal diet, food supplements are generally not necessary. If a balanced diet is eaten, the body gets all the nutrients it needs. Only in specific cases is systematic supplementation of food with individual nutrients required, for example folic acid in early pregnancy.

The dose is also the crucial factor for other substances which must be classified as harmful to health such as acrylamide. This substance can be found in foods such as potato crisps, French fries, fried and roast potatoes, bread and baked goods. In animal experiments, acrylamide has been shown to have mutagenic and carcinogenic potential. Using an “acrylamide calculator”, visitors can calculate their average intake of this substance on the basis of their eating habits. In addition, there are tips for your own cooking in order to keep the acrylamide content of prepared foods as low as possible.

A BfR quiz with QR code which directly leads to the BfR website provides information on all aspects of food safety. With a BfR wheel of fortune on vitamins and minerals and Risky - the new BfR mascot - visitors can extend their knowledge of the topic “getting the dose right is crucial!”

About the BfR

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientific institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV). It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.