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uncertainty than is associated with the types of data available on nonessential chemicals.

There is no evidence to suggest that nutrients consumed at the recommended intake (the Recommended Dietary Allowance or Adequate Intake) present a potential risk of adverse effects to the general population.1 It is clear, however, that the addition of nutrients to a diet through the ingestion of large amounts of highly fortified food, nonfood sources such as supplements, or both, (at some level) pose a potential risk of adverse health effects. The UL is the highest level of daily nutrient intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects for almost all individuals in the general population. As intake increases above the UL, the risk of adverse effects increases.

If adverse effects have been associated with total intake, ULs are based on total intake of a nutrient from food, water, and supplements. For cases in which adverse effects have been associated with intake only from supplements and food fortificants, the UL is based on intake from those sources only, rather than on total intake. The effects of nutrients from fortified foods or supplements may differ from those of naturally occurring constituents of foods because of the chemical form of the nutrient, the timing of the intake and amount consumed in a single bolus dose, the matrix supplied by the food, and the relation of the nutrient to the other constituents of the diet. Nutrient requirements and food intake are related to the metabolizing body mass, which is also at least an indirect measure of the space in which the nutrients are distributed. This relation between food intake and space of distribution supports homeostasis, which maintains nutrient concentrations in that space within a range compatible with health. However, excessive intake of a single nutrient from supplements or fortificants may compromise this homeostatic mechanism. Such elevations alone pose potential risk of adverse effects; imbalances among the nutrients may also be possible. These reasons and those discussed previously support the need to include the form and pattern of consumption in the assessment of risk from high nutrient or food component intake.


It is recognized that possible exceptions to this generalization relate to specific geochemical areas with excessive environmental exposures to certain trace elements (e.g., selenium) and to rare case reports of adverse effects associated with highly eccentric consumption of specific foods. Data from such findings are generally not useful for setting ULs for the general North American population.

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