Special instructions and restrictions

Vitamin D products

The nutrition recommendations issued in January 2014 also contained instructions on the use of vitamin D supplements for different age groups. The separate recommendations concerning the use of vitamin D supplements released in 2010 have in some parts been found inconsistent with the new vitamin D intake recommendations. Applying these recommendations in practice has proven difficult. It was thus deemed necessary to specify and update the recommendations targeted at the adult population on the need for additional vitamin D in the form of supplements. The recommendation on additional requirements was issued to ensure an adequate intake in situations where the diet does not comprise sufficient amounts of foods containing vitamin D. In other words, unnecessary use of vitamin D supplements should be avoided.

The changes are indicated in bold characters in the table.

Updated recommendations on the use and additional requirement of vitamin D:
(10 μg = 400 IU, or international units)

 Age group
 Recommended
total intakea
 Additional requirement
(additional to vitamin D in diet)
 2 weeks - 2 years
 10 µg/day
 10 µg/day all year
 2 - 17 years
 10 µg/day
 7.5 µg/day all year
 18 - 60 years
 10 µg/day
 10 µg/day when required b
 61 - 74 years
 10 µg/day
 10 µg/day when required b
 ≥ 75 years
 20 µg/day
 20 µg/day all year c 
 Pregnant and breastfeeding women
 10 µg/day
 10 µg/day all year
 
 

a Recommended total intake means the total amount of vitamin D from dietary sources and any supplements.
b If dairy products fortified with vitamin D, fat spreads and/or fish are not used daily in the darkest time of the year (October-March).
c A smaller dose (10 µg/day) of vitamin D supplement may be enough for those who regularly use large quantities of milk products fortified with vitamin D, fat spreads and/or fish.

Upper limits of safe intake have also been specified for vitamin D, which are the following:

Children under 1 year       25 µg/day
Children 1-11 years          50 µg/day
Teenagers and adults      100 µg/day    

Iodine

In order to improve the iodine status of the population, the National Nutrition Council of Finland recommends the use of iodised salt with iodine content of 25 micrograms (µg/g). National Nutrition Council also recommends the use of iodised salt in homes and in mass catering. This recommendation is now expanded to cover the entire food industry. The National Nutrition Council estimates that this would make it possible to restore the iodine intake of the population to its previous good level. The total intake of salt, however, should be reduced because of its adverse health effects. The recommended intake level for salt is no more than 5 g/day.

The National Nutrition Council recommends that the food industry, starting from bakeries, use iodised salt in its production. The iodization of bread has yielded good results internationally as it benefits the majority of the population. Alongside the animal-based sources of iodine (milk products, fish and eggs), bread improves the iodine intake of, for example, vegans and those on a milk-free diet. Wholegrain bread is included in the recommended diet, and its use can be increased.

Targeting the prevention of iodine deficiency

Iodine is an essential nutrient that is needed for the production of thyroid hormones and for the normal foetal and child growth and development. Iodine deficiency causes thyroid enlargement, or goitre, that was still common in the early 20th century. Iodine deficiency in the foetal stage may cause neurological development disorders. The dietary intake of iodine of the Finns has decreased to nearly one-third of the highest level reached in the 60s when iodised salt was introduced. Measured by urinary iodine excretion, the iodine status of the population was excellent up until the early 2000s. Measured by WHO population-level indicators, Finns now have a mild iodine deficiency.

The purpose of the National Nutrition Council’s iodine recommendation is to prevent iodine deficiency and to secure sufficient iodine intake especially for those with a low intake. The incidence of goitre caused by iodine deficiency has not increased in Finland. Instead, the recommendation is based on the Nordic population-level iodine intake recommendations. The use of food supplements containing iodine is not necessary in a diet in compliance with the food recommendation where the salt used is iodised salt.

The use of iodised salt does not increase the risk of over intake in any population group. The iodization of salt and its use in foodstuffs is the most commonly used means worldwide to increase the iodine content of food, and it has proven to be safe. However, the use of seaweed products may lead to over intake of iodine. Seaweed products whose iodine content is not known should not be used at all.

Iodine intake of the population needs to be monitored 

The National Nutrition Council considers it important that the iodine intake and iodine status of the population is monitored on a regular basis. The monitoring must comprise both adults and the groups most vulnerable with regard to iodine intake, in particular children and pregnant and breastfeeding women. The National Nutrition Council monitors the introduction of iodised salt in mass catering and in the food industry.

The full recommendation of the National Nutrition Council (pdf)

Folate and folic acid

The folate intake of Finnish people is often inadequate. This is why using a folic acid supplement is recommended for women planning a pregnancy, as it prevents foetal neural tube defects. Women are advised to start taking a folic acid supplement about two months before they plan to get pregnant. You can continue to take it until the end of the 12th week of pregnancy.

The recommended intake of folate for pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy is 500 μ a day. Read more about folate and folic acid.

Fish in the diet

Regardless of the good nutritional qualities of fish, salmon and Baltic herring caught in the Baltic Sea, and especially in the Gulf of Bothnia and the Gulf of Finland, may expose you to increased quantities of harmful dioxins and PCBs. Predatory freshwater fish, in particular pike but also sea pike, may contain increased quantities of methylmercury. The older the fish, the higher the accumulation of contaminants in it. For these reasons, the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira has issued special recommendations on fish consumption for children, teenagers and people of reproductive age. 

Liver in the diet

Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin that is stored in the liver. The vitamin A content is thus higher in liver than in any other food. An excessive intake of liver may cause health risks, especially to foetuses and small children. The Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, the National Nutrition Council of Finland and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health have thus issued a special recommendation on the use of liver and foods containing liver for children under the school age. The Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, the National Nutrition Council of Finland and the Social Insurance Institution have also issued a recommendation on the use of liver and foods containing liver during pregnancy.

Sausages, frankfurters and cold cuts

Sausages, frankfurters and cold cuts of meat should not be part of a baby's diet. High quantities of nitrate, which is used as an additive, may inhibit the transport of oxygen in young children. Sausages also contain saturated fat and salt. Children aged one to two years are advised to have at most one meal containing sausage and three to four slices of cold cuts a week (one slice weighs approx. 10 g). The total amount of sausage, frankfurters and cold cuts served to children over 2 years and under the school age should not exceed 150 g a week. In practical terms, this means:

  • One meal containing sausage a week, one slice of cold cuts a day OR
  • two meals containing sausage a week with no cold cuts OR
  • two slices of cold cuts a day/ week.