36th VIC Press Seminar (March 28. 2001) 

"The Significance of the Issuance of the Standard Tables of Food Composition in Japan -5th Revised edtion- on Study and Research on Vitamins and Diseases"


At the VIC Press Seminar held on March 28 (Wednesday), there was a lecture by Dr. Osamu Igarashi ( Professor of Ibaraki Christian University) titled "The Significance of the Issuance of the 5th Revision of the Japanese Standard Tables of Food Components on Study and Research on Vitamins and Diseases". Excerpts: 

Standard Tables of Food Composition in Japan  Revised for the First Time in 18 Years
Enriched Contents Covering Almost All Minerals and Vitamins

"The Standard Tables of Food Composition in Japan" (edited by the Resource Committee of the former Agency of Science and Technology, Japan), which indicate nutritional components of foods, was revised at the end of last year for the first time in 18 years.  This was the fifth revision.  The number of food items included in the tables increased to 1882, an increase of 261 items as compared to the fourth revision issued in 1982.  The component items number as many as 36, showing a remarkable increase in items listed under vitamins and minerals.
     The fifth revision reflects diversified dietary habits and changes in the production and distribution of food, including the importation of new types of food from many foreign countries, the widespread use of frozen foods, the increase of vegetables grown year round, such as tomatoes and cucumbers, and changes in cooking processes.
     With regard to the food items shown in the tables, a remarkable increase can be seen in the number of food items in the vegetable and marine food categories.  Cultivated marine products were added to the marine food category, and frozen foods were added to the vegetable category.  The meat and fruit categories also showed a small increase.  Imported fruits were added to the fruit category.  As for vegetables, seasonal changes in nutritional contents are indicated as notes.  For example, the average vitamin C content of spinach is indicated as 35 mg per 100 g of the edible part, but the content is indicated as 20 mg for spinach harvested in summer and 60 mg for that harvested in winter.  As for meats, changes in values caused by specific cooking processes, such as "ggrilled" or "boiled", are shown in detail.

     There are eight mineral items indicated, including sodium and calcium.  Vitamins E, K, B6, B12, folic acid, and pantothenic acid were added to the vitamin category, making a nearly complete list of vitamins.  Dietary fiber and cholesterol were also added to the tables, which are useful from the viewpoint of disease prevention.
     It has been found that folic acid decreases the risk of having a baby with certain types of inborn defects, including spina bifida.  The Ministry of Health and Welfare (now the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare) released a recommendation at the end of last year that women in their reproductive years take folic acid.
     In addition, it has been shown that folic acid and vitamins B12 and B6 are involved in the metabolism of homocysteine, which has been attracting attention as a risk factor for arteriosclerosis in recent years, and the preventive effect of these nutrients on the disease is on the way to being established.
     Prof. Osamu Igarashi of the Faculty of Life Sciences, Ibaraki Christian College, commented on the fifth revision, "The Standard Tables of Food Composition are primarily intended as basic resource materials for the calculation of nutritional allowances, but they will be widely used in fields of research such as nutrition science, food science, and medicine."


Food that are rich with Folic acid


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