Recommendations for nutrition – 2022


Recommendations for nutrition

Nutrition is the absorption and utilization of food, which is necessary for all living organisms. The food provides the energy and nutrients needed to sustain the life and growth of the organism.

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Nutrition is the absorption and utilization of food, which is necessary for all living organisms. The food provides the energy and nutrients needed to sustain the life and growth of the organism.

There are differences in animals, plants and microorganisms in terms of what nutrients they need. The classical theory of nutrition includes the uptake and conversion of nutrients as well as their functions and significance for the health of the organism. The study of human nutrition is an interdisciplinary field, which in addition to the classical biochemical and physiological nutrition science also covers studies of dietary habits and the social, psychological and economic factors that are important for these.

Humans need energy-giving nutrients (carbohydrate, fat and protein) and vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Vitamins, minerals and trace elements are so-called essential nutrients that can not be produced in the human organism, which is why it is vital that they are supplied from the outside with food. Carbohydrate, fat and protein, on the other hand, can to a large extent replace each other as an energy source and building blocks. However, some of the constituents contained in protein and fat, respectively, are essential in small amounts (the amino acids phenylalanine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, threonine, tryptophan and valine, as well as the fatty acids linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid).

Recommendations for nutrition

The recommendations for nutrient intake place particular emphasis on the fact that fat intake should be moderate (especially the intake of the so-called saturated fatty acids) and that the content of complex carbohydrates (starch and dietary fiber) should be correspondingly high. The main reason for this recommendation is that such a diet can reduce the risk of some of the chronic diseases that are most prevalent in the Western world (cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and certain cancers). For vitamins, minerals and trace elements, the recommendations are based on studies of the physiological needs, ie. what amounts of a particular nutrient are needed to avoid the development of deficiency symptoms and to maintain a certain reserve in the body.

The recommendations are always set significantly higher than this need due to individual differences in the need and due to any incomplete utilization in the body. As the need varies depending on the size and stage of development of the body, the recommendations are always given by gender and age. The Nordic nutrient recommendations, which are also the official Danish recommendations, generally agree well with similar recommendations from other western countries, eg the USA and the United Kingdom. See also diet pyramid.

In 2013, the nutrient recommendations were summarized in ten specific official dietary guidelines, which also included physical activity. In January 2021 came a revision of the official dietary guidelines, which in addition to health also took into account the climate impact of food.

Nutrition research historically

The development of nutrition science is closely linked to the development of chemistry and physiology. The foundation was laid in the mid-18th century with A.L. de Lavoisier’s studies of energy conversion, which showed a correlation between the amount of carbon dioxide that an animal emits and the heat it develops. Studies of the breakdown of the main components of food (fat, carbohydrate and protein) and the amount of energy produced thereby were made during the 19th century, and around 1900, nutrition science began to emerge as an independent science. In the first part of the 20th century, this position was further strengthened with the series of studies that led to the discovery of vitamins.


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