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the distribution of actual intakes for the population will be used as a basis for determining whether and to what extent the population is at risk.


This section provides guidance for applying the risk assessment framework (the model) to the derivation of Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) for nutrients.

Special Problems Associated with Substances Required for Human Nutrition

In the application of accepted standards for risk assessment of environmental chemicals to risk assessment of nutrients, a fundamental difference between the two categories must be recognized: within a certain range of intakes, nutrients are essential for human well-being and usually for life itself. Nonetheless, they may share with other chemicals the production of adverse effects at excessive exposures. Because the consumption of balanced diets is consistent with the development and survival of humankind over many millennia, there is less need for the large uncertainty factors that have been used for the risk assessment of nonessential chemicals. In addition, if data on the adverse effects of nutrients are available primarily from studies in human populations, there will be less uncertainty than is associated with the types of data available on nonessential chemicals.

There is no evidence to suggest that nutrients consumed at recommended intakes (the Recommended Dietary Allowance [RDA] or Adequate Intake [AI]) present a risk of adverse effects to the general population. 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 may (at some level) pose a 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 to 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 from all sources, 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

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