Criteria of Essentiality

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Criteria for establishing whether or not a dietary constituent is an essential nutrient were implicit in the types of investigations that had provided the basis for the concept of nutritional essentiality. Later they were elaborated in more detail as follows:

  1. The substance is required in the diet for growth, health, and survival
  2. Its absence from the diet or inadequate intake results in characteristic signs of a deficiency disease and, ultimately, death
  3. Growth failure and characteristic signs of deficiency are prevented only by the nutrient or a specific precursor of it, not by other substances
  4. Below some critical level of intake of the nutrient, growth response and severity of signs of deficiency are proportional to the amount consumed
  5. The substance is not synthesized in the body and is, therefore, required for some critical function throughout life

By 1950 some 35 nutrients had been shown to meet these criteria. Nutrients presently accepted as essential for humans and for which there are recommended dietary intakes (RDIs) or allowances (RDAs) are listed in T§b!e,„1J,„.

Table 1.1 Nutrients Essential for Humans

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