Calcium, iron, zinc the most consumed minerals in Japan – Govt-funded survey
However, the survey also found that the number of people consuming mineral supplements or mineral-fortified foods remained low.
Out of the 15,000 respondents, less than 10 per cent had actively consumed mineral supplements (9.3 per cent) or mineral-fortified foods (7.9 per cent).
The survey was conducted in November last year by the National Institute of Health and Nutrition, with the findings published in Nutrients recently.
The respondents, which consisted of an equal number of men and women, were asked their usual dietary status, mineral-fortified foods or/and mineral supplement usage status, reasons why they did not use mineral-fortified foods or/and mineral supplement, and the awareness of each mineral and their intake status.
An additional survey was conducted on 2077 respondents – consisting of 1,032 males and 1,045 females who were consuming mineral-fortified foods and/or mineral supplements.
It found that the most consumed mineral was calcium (60.9 per cent), followed by iron (46.7 per cent), and zinc (37.1 per cent).
Women were actively taking calcium and iron products. On the other hand, men were more conscious in their intake of sodium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and manganese.
Most used these products for the maintenance of health (80.6 per cent), followed by supplementation of nutrients (48 per cent).
Some participants even used the products for “prevention of diseases” (25.6 per cent), “beauty benefits” (18.2%) and “improvements to health” (18.2%), even though mineral products could not make such claims.
The survey project was funded by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Policy Research Grants.
Factors for not consuming
Price, the belief that they could consume sufficient amounts from their usual diet, and the unwillingness to spend it on supplements were the reasons for not consuming mineral supplements or fortified foods.
For mineral-fortified foods, while 7.9 per cent were active users, 22.4 per cent said they have used it occasionally, 24.8 per cent have never used it, while 44.9 per cent said that they did not care.
As for mineral supplements, a higher proportion – 59.5 per cent of the respondents said they have never used it.
Ironically, when asked their perception of their mineral intake, more than half admitted to not knowing their intake status.
A breakdown shows that one in three believed that they had insufficient intake of calcium and iron.
Foods with Nutrient Function Claims
On the other hand, it was found that the usage of Foods with Nutrient Function Claims (FNFC) was higher than that of mineral supplements.
Findings show that 16.6 per cent of the respondents said they were using FNFC.
These products contained not only minerals, but also vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acid. They are also allowed to bear a nutrient function claim prescribed by the existing scientific evidence without the firms submitting a notification to the government.
They also come in the form of not only capsules, tablets, and powders but also regular food.
The Perception of Minerals and Their Prevalence in Fortified Foods and Supplements in Japan
Authors: Chiba, T.; Tanemura, N.; Nishijima, C