During the period 1980-1986, the Housekeeping Committees of the Danish Rural Institute carried out individual investigations of the diets of 513 women aged 23-50 years. Out of these, 124 were in the age group 40-50 years and this group was selected for health investigation. A Danish version of the Cornell Medical Index questionnaire with 138 enquiries about current and previous health conditions was sent to the 108 women who agreed to participate. All of these were visited in their homes by a doctor who reviewed the replies to the questionnaire and collected supplementary information for use in the diagnostic history. Only few cases of diseases of civilization were found and there were no cases of cancer. The current state of health was assessed summarily on the basis of the number of affirmative replies in the questionnaire. A statistical connection was found between the state of health and the combination of the fat-energy percentage and the vegetable roughage in the diet.
In 403 elderly people residing in their own homes a dietary interview was undertaken with special reference to the intakes of vitamins and minerals. The group was randomly selected. The data were compared with the Recommended Dietary Allowances, Joint Nordic Recommendations and the absolute minimal necessary amounts. Intakes of folacin was low in 100% of the interviewed, intakes of cholecalciferol was low in 62% and in 83% intakes of pyridoxine was low as compared to the recommendations. The majority had sufficient amounts of ascorbic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, retinol and cobalamin from the diet. The intake of zinc was low in 87% of the interviewed, but risk of zinc deficiency might only be present in 0.5%. The intakes of iron and calcium was judged to be sufficient. The physiological needs of the elderly may, however, vary from the standards used here and recommendations with special reference to the elderly are in request. The conclusion is that the diet of the elderly, possibly with exception of folacin, is well above their absolute minimal requirements, but the margin towards malnutrition is small. This means that elderly people should be considered a vulnerable group with respect to the intakes of vitamins and minerals.