Women and pregnant people have historically been underrepresented in research; this may extend to the basic research informing nutrient reference values, such as the United States’ and Canada’s Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs). After screening the DRI reports for 23 micronutrients, we extracted metadata from 704 studies. Women were excluded in 23% of studies, and they accounted for a smaller proportion of the sample size (29%). Pregnant or lactating people were included in 17% of the studies. Studies that used rigorous design elements, such as controlled feeding and stable isotope studies, were the most likely to include men only. The majority of studies (>90%) did not report race and ethnicity. Although nutrient reference values are intended for use in the general population, we find that the basic science informing these values may not be generalizable. We call urgently upon funders and researchers to address fundamental gaps in knowledge with high-quality research.
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