Vitamin A in labelling

Vitamin A in labelling

Vitamin A in labelling - retinol equivalence of carotenoids changed 

All substances with the biological activity of retinol are referred to as vitamin A. These include e.g. pro-vitamin A carotenoids, such as the beta-carotene. Retinol activity is expressed in retinol equivalents (RE). In the labelling of foodstuffs a coefficient of 6 has traditionally been used when calculating the equivalence between vitamin A and beta-carotene, and a coefficient of 12 for other carotenoids, with one retinol equivalent (RE) equal to 1 µg of retinol or 6 µg of beta-carotene or 12 µg of other carotenoids.

New studies have shown that the absorption of caretenoids and conversion into vitamin A is not as effective as has been though, and shows quite a lot of variation. For this reason, the new Finnish nutrition recommendations issued by the National Nutrition Council specify more detailed equivalence coefficients as follows:

1 RE equals

  • 1 µg of vitamin A (retinol) in nutrition or a product
  • 2 µg of beta carotene in a product
  • 12 µg of beta carotene in nutrition
  • 24 µg of other pro-vitamin A carotenoids

More specific grounds for the new coefficients are presented in the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2004.

Finnish Food Safety Authority recommends that operators change the labelling of foodstuffs to correspond to the new equivalence coefficients as new packages are printed.