Dietary recommendations and nutritional requirements

WHO, often in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and other UN organizations, continually reviews new research and information from around the world on human nutrient requirements and recommended nutrient intakes. This is a never-ending task, given the large number of essential human nutrients, including protein, energy, carbohydrates, fats and lipids, a range of vitamins, and a host of minerals and trace elements.

Many countries rely on WHO to establish and disseminate this information, which they adopt as part of their national dietary reference intakes. Others use it as a base for their standards. The establishment of human nutrient requirements is the common foundation for all countries to develop food-based dietary guidelines for their populations.

Establishing requirements means that the public health and clinical significance of intake levels – both deficiency and excess – and associated disease patterns for each nutrient, need to be thoroughly reviewed for all age groups.