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Research Project: Health Roles of Dietary Selenium in Obesity

Location: Dietary Prevention of Obesity-related Disease Research

Title: Directions in nutritional assessment: Biomarkers and bio-indicators - providing clarity in the face of complexity

Author
item Raiten, Daniel - National Institutes Of Health (NIH)
item Combs, Gerald

Submitted to: Sight and Life Newsletter
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/1/2015
Publication Date: 8/1/2015
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/61423
Citation: Raiten, D.J., Combs, G.F. 2015. Directions in nutritional assessment: Biomarkers and bio-indicators - providing clarity in the face of complexity. Sight and Life. 29(1):39-44.

Interpretive Summary: Among the greatest challenges facing the Nutrition community is integrating nutrition into all aspects of global efforts in health promotion and disease prevention. Despite compelling evidence of its importance to human development, a full appreciation of how nutrition affects health is still lacking throughout the continuum of health care providers, programmers and policymakers. In large part, this disconnect is the result of relying on evidence that is often not directly or specifically linked to the biology of nutrition in a meaningful manner. Over the years, attempts have been made to put the differential responses due to inadequacy of individual nutrients into a classification scheme based on specificity of response. The classification of Type 1 and Type 2 nutrients offered by Golden et al., is a widely accepted application of this approach. Type 1 nutrients (e.g. vitamin A) are directly and inextricably linked to explicitly defined outcomes, e.g., xeropthalmia, by a well described biological relationship. In contrast, Type 2 nutrients, such as zinc, are not directly linked to particular outcomes. In fact, the categorization of nutrient by this paradigm is dependent on context. For example, vitamin A is clearly a Type 1 nutrient with respect to its role in preventing xerophthalmia, but it appears to be a Type 2 nutrient with respect to its activity in reducing risk to infection. This is more than a semantic issue, as addressing such physiological impacts calls for an understanding of the actual root causes. That challenge calls for tools capable of identifying relationships of nutrients and specific outcomes. It requires a clear appreciation of the functions of nutrients within relevant biological systems (e.g., immune, neurological, etc.). It requires evidence that changes in nutrient status will, in fact, have functional consequences. These are the domains of Nutritional Assessment.

Technical Abstract: Among the greatest challenges facing the Nutrition community is integrating nutrition into all aspects of global efforts in health promotion and disease prevention. Despite compelling evidence of its importance to human development, a full appreciation of how nutrition affects health is still lacking throughout the continuum of health care providers, programmers and policymakers. In large part, this disconnect is the result of relying on evidence that is often not directly or specifically linked to the biology of nutrition in a meaningful manner. Over the years, attempts have been made to put the differential responses due to inadequacy of individual nutrients into a classification scheme based on specificity of response. The classification of Type 1 and Type 2 nutrients offered by Golden et al., is a widely accepted application of this approach. Type 1 nutrients (e.g. vitamin A) are directly and inextricably linked to explicitly defined outcomes, e.g., xeropthalmia, by a well described biological relationship. In contrast, Type 2 nutrients, such as zinc, are not directly linked to particular outcomes. In fact, the categorization of nutrient by this paradigm is dependent on context. For example, vitamin A is clearly a Type 1 nutrient with respect to its role in preventing xerophthalmia, but it appears to be a Type 2 nutrient with respect to its activity in reducing risk to infection. This is more than a semantic issue, as addressing such physiological impacts calls for an understanding of the actual root causes. That challenge calls for tools capable of identifying relationships of nutrients and specific outcomes. It requires a clear appreciation of the functions of nutrients within relevant biological systems (e.g., immune, neurological, etc.). It requires evidence that changes in nutrient status will, in fact, have functional consequences. These are the domains of Nutritional Assessment.