Certain nutrients are essential for basic bodily functions, and a wide range of health claims have been authorised by the EU in this area. They include:

Health claim ‘contributes to normal…’VitaminMineralOther
Macronutrient metabolismBiotinChromium, Zinc
*Homocysteine metabolismFolate, vitamin B12, vitamin B6Betaine, Choline
Energy-yielding metabolismPantothenic acid, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin CCalcium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus
Lipid metabolismCholine
Sulphur amino acid metabolismMolybdenum
Synthesis and metabolism of steroid hormones, vitamin D and some neurotransmittersPantothenic acid
Metabolism of ironVitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin C
Protein and glycogen metabolismVitamin B6
Acid-base metabolismZinc
Carbohydrate metabolismZinc
Fatty acid metabolismZinc
Vitamin A metabolismZinc

*The homocysteine metabolism claims are of special interest as this involves the metabolism of homocysteine, seen as a marker for chronic illnesses such as heart disease, to methionine, a beneficial amino-acid. Vitamin B12 is necessary for this metabolism but is only present in animal products such as meat and milk, and is missing from strict vegetarian or vegan diets. This should be corrected by supplementation or foods fortified with vitamin B12.

Vitamin C enhances iron absorption by the body, and this is again important for vegetarians as plant iron is less absorbable than haem iron, which comes in the main from meat. Thus a vegetarian diet should include vitamin C rich foods.

The claims may be made for a single nutrient or several nutrients.

The EU Health Claims Register is dynamic in nature and should be checked for updates.

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