Read Nutrient Facts Panels, Compare Daily Values (DV), Make Informed Choices
“The Fundamentals of Organic Certification” by Ilana Orlofsky describes the growth of organic food and beverage sales and provides a nice summary of regulatory requirements to be certified ‘organic’. As ‘organic’ certification moves outside of agricultural commodities (fruit, vegetables, eggs, meat, dairy) to finished food products, the number of food and beverage manufacturers entering the category increases.
Although ‘nutrient vitamins and minerals’ are approved ingredients within the National Organic Program (NOP), many manufacturers of finished organic foods and beverages do not enrich or fortify their products with vitamins and minerals. Why? Probably because vitamin names are complex and difficult to differentiate from other food additives.
One of the first finished foods to be fortified was ready-to-eat cereals (RTEC). Since then, many studies have characterized the benefits of regularly consuming ready-to-eat cereals. In an era when every kitchen and restaurant table had a bowl of sugar, pre-sweetened RTEC were introduced as a lower sugar alternative. Why? Because they didn’t need to have sugar spooned into the bowl.
Research shows that children (4-12y) who regularly eat RTEC (upper tertile) have lower mean body mass indexes, lower fat intakes, and higher intakes of vitamins A, C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, folate, calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc than those who do not (lower tertile). Remove the fortification (vitamins and minerals) from RTEC and the percentage of youth failing to achieve micronutrient sufficiency will increase.
Cross-sectional data from 2,959 participants who managed to maintain weight loss in the US National Weight Control Registry shows they usually consume RTEC and fruit for breakfast. New data from the MedWeight study finds eating breakfast at home helps people maintain a healthy body weight.
As described in Forbes’ “Is Science Really at the Heart of the GMO Debate”, personal choices regarding the benefits of genetically modified (GMOs) or organic foods are based on a multitude of perceived values and beliefs, not science. When one chooses an organic food devoid of added vitamins, nutrient density, or the amount of micronutrients obtained per calorie or per 100 grams, is compromised. Without doubt, eating a food that is enriched or fortified with vitamins improves micronutrient intake over the non-enriched or non-fortified alternative.
Food fortification is a proven means to reduce the risk of micronutrient deficiencies. Finished products that are enriched or fortified with vitamins and minerals are superior, more nutrient dense.
Regulatory agencies like FDA and WHO do not differentiate between man-made vitamins and vitamins from plant or animal sources. Molecular structures are known. The body uses nutrients, regardless of source, to support cellular structure and function.
Read the Nutrition Facts panel. Compare labels. Check the % Daily Value (DV). Compare the number of vitamins or minerals at 10% DV (or better) per serving. Then, and only then, will you know whether the organic, natural, or conventional finished food is nutritionally superior.
Brikou D, Zannidi D, Karfopoulou E, Anastasiou C, Yannakoulia M. Breakfast consumption and weight-loss maintenance: results from the MedWeight Study. 2016 Br J Nutr doi: 10.1017/S0007114516001550
Albertson AM, Anderson GH, Crockett SJ, Goebel MT. Ready-to-eat cereal consumption: its relationship with BMI and nutrient intake of children aged 4 to 12 years. 2003 J Am Diet Assoc doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2003.09.020
Fulgoni VL, Buckley RB. The contribution of fortified ready-to-eat cereal to vitamin and mineral intake in the US population, NHANES 2007-2010. 2015 Nutrients doi: 10.3390/nu7063949
Weaver CM, Dwyer J, Fulgoni VL, King JC, Leveille GA, MacDonald RS, Ordovas J, Schnakenberg D. Processed foods: contributions to nutrition. 2013 Am J Clin Nutr doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.089284
Wyatt HR, Grunwald GK, Mosca CL, Klem ML, Wing RR, Hill JO. Long-term weight loss and breakfast in subjects in the National Weight Control Registry. 2002 Obes Res doi: 10.1038/oby.2002.13