How proposals for EU, US and Codex regulation could destroy natural healthcare: the critical need for a new regulatory paradigm

Presentation by Robert Verkerk PhD, executive director, Alliance for Natural Health

American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) Conference, Sheraton Hotel and Marina, San Diego, California

19 November 2004


1.1 The average diet is micronutrient deficient

There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating that significant and probably growing numbers of people in industrialised countries, who rarely suffer from protein/energy malnutrition, are nonetheless micronutrient deficient. Large sectors of the population in developing countries tend to be both macronutrient and micronutrient deficient.

Micronutrient insufficiency is likely to be an under-reported phenomenon in industrialized countries given the continued reliance on Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs), Recommended Nutritional Intakes, or their equivalents, as the perceived threshold for micronutrient sufficiency, despite RDAs having been discredited scientifically[1] more than a decade ago. Such values appear to be particularly inappropriate as a means of assessing dietary intakes of individuals, or specific population groups1 such as older persons, those with very active (or inactive) lifestyles, those with a high risk of disease, or those suffering some form of chronic, degenerative disease.

If micronutrient levels associated with optimum health were considered as the threshold for micronutrient sufficiency as compared with RDAs, it would be very likely that the majority of western people would be shown to be deficient in at least one, but frequently multiple, micronutrients.

Furthermore, if preventative healthcare is to be embraced by governments, it is essential that the paradigm for assessment of micronutrient sufficiency is altered.

1.2 The need to establish new guidelines for optimum micronutrient intake

A number of workers have attempted to provide guidelines for optimum micronutrient intake, most notable being Drs Emanuel Cheraskin and WM Ringsdorf at the University of Alabama, whose work was published in over 100 papers during the 1960s and 1970s. Since this time, a very large body of new data has become available and there is great need to evaluate it and consolidate findings in new guidelines, which should become health targets both for governments and individuals. These guidelines should at least to some degree be population group specific.

1.3 The basis for health promotion using healthy diets and micronutrient supplements

The diseases contributing to the majority of deaths in industrialized countries, namely cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, osteoporosis and diabetes, all of which are the major, current World Health Organisation disease targets worldwide[2], can be ameliorated or prevented by means of nutritional management or intervention. Although this fact is accepted by some governments, and the World Health Organisation itself, barring limited examples (e.g. folic acid vs neural tube defects), there is lack of consensus on the role of micronutrient supplements as a means of bolstering depleted nutritional contents of diets and gaining health promotional benefits as a consequence.

There are many reasons for this, including: