Dietary bioactives are food substances that promote health but are not essential to prevent typical deficiency conditions. Examples include lutein and zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids, and flavonoids. When quality evidence is available, quantified intake recommendations linking dietary bioactives with specific health benefits will enable health professionals to provide evidence-based information to consumers. Without evidence-based recommendations, consumers use information from available sources that often lack standards and rigor. This article describes a framework to develop guidance based on quality evidence fully vetted for efficacy and safety by qualified experts, and designed to communicate the amounts of specific dietary bioactive compounds with identified health benefits. The 4-step Framework described here can be adapted by credible health organizations to work within their guideline development process. Standards of practice used in clinical guidelines are adapted to quantify dietary bioactive intake recommendations from foods consumed by the general public, by taking into account that side effects and trade-offs are often needed for medical treatments but are not acceptable for dietary bioactives. In quantifying dietary bioactive recommendations, this Framework establishes 4 decision-making steps: 1) characterize the bioactive, determine amounts in specific food sources, and quantify intakes; 2) evaluate safety; 3) quantify the causal relation between the specific bioactive and accepted markers of health or normal function via systematic evidence reviews; and 4) translate the evidence into a quantified bioactive intake statement. This Framework provides a working model that can be updated as new approaches are advanced.

The Framework has been endorsed by the American Society for Nutrition (ASN).

Click here for an infographic summary.

Access full publication.

This work was supported by the IAFNS Bioactives Committee.