The accurate assessment of dietary exposure is important in investigating associations between diet and disease. Research in nutritional epidemiology, which has resulted in a large amount of information on associations between diet and chronic diseases in the last decade, relies on accurate assessment methods to identify these associations. However, most dietary assessment instruments rely to some extent on self-reporting, which is prone to systematic bias affected by factors such as age, gender, social desirability and approval. Nutritional biomarkers are not affected by these and therefore provide an additional, alternative method to estimate intake. However, there are also some limitations in their application: they are affected by inter-individual variations in metabolism and other physiological factors, and they are often limited to estimating intake of specific compounds and not entire foods. It is therefore important to validate nutritional biomarkers to determine specific strengths and limitations. In this perspective paper, criteria for the validation of nutritional markers and future developments are discussed
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