Dietary exposure estimates of twenty-one trace elements from a Total Diet Study carried out in Pavia, Northern Italy
The significant role of trace elements in human health is well documented. Trace elements are those compounds that need to be present in the human diet to maintain normal physiological functions. However, some microelements may become harmful at high levels of exposure, or, on the other hand, may give rise to malnutrition, when their exposure is too low. The aim of the present study was to provide a reliable estimate of the dietary exposure of twenty-one trace elements in a Northern Italian area. For this purpose, trace element analyses were undertaken on total diet samples collected from a university cafeteria in Pavia, Northern Italy. The average daily exposure for the adult people was calculated on the basis of food consumption frequency, portion size and trace element levels in foodstuffs. The mean exposure values satisfy the Italian RDA for all the essential trace elements, except for Fe exposure in females, and are well below the Provisional Tolerable Daily Intake for all the toxic compounds, showing that the probability of dietary exposure to health risks is overall small. As far as Fe exposure is concerned, a potential risk of anaemia in the female adult population should be considered, then studies aimed at evaluating the Fe nutritional status of adult Italian women should be addressed. In conclusion, while not excluding the possibility that the daily exposure determined in the present study may not be representative of the population as a whole, this study provides a good estimate of the Italian adult consumer exposure to twenty-one trace elements.