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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Fortification Provides Vitamins and Minerals Essential for Health

By Michael McBurney

Today’s blog, based on data from Sweden, highlights the benefits of consuming fortified foods. Sweden has a history of mandatory iron fortification of white flour since 1944. In 1995, this practice was discontinued.

Sjoberg and Hulthen examined the impact of changes in fortification policy on iron intake and serum ferritin stores in 15-16y old adolescents. After the withdrawal of iron fortification in 1995, the prevalence of  iron deficiency (serum ferritin ≤ 15µg/L)among girls increased 22% (from 37 to 45% of all girls). No change in prevalence of iron deficiency was observed in boys, presumably because of their much higher protein (117 g/d) intake. Meat is an excellent source of heme iron. Boys consumed 1.4-1.5 mg heme iron per 10 MJ whereas girls consumed 0.7-0.9 mg heme/10 MJ.

Analysis of meal patterns showed no significant changes in heme iron intake between 1994 and 2000. The significant decrease in total iron intake (during- and post-fortification) was almost exclusively attributable to a significant reduction in iron intake from fortified sources, occurring across all meals and snacks.

Enrichment and fortification of milk, grain products, ready-to-eat cereals and other processed foods has been shown to positively impact nutrient intake. When nutrient intakes are examined assuming intake of only naturally occurring nutrients in foods, large percentages of the population would have inadequate intakes of vitamins A, C, D, E, thiamin, folate, calcium, magnesium and folate. Enriched and fortified foods are important sources of essential vitamins and minerals.

Not all foods are rich sources of vitamins and nutrients. Not all grain, milk and other processed food products are fortified. Read food labels. Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients.

Main Citation

Sjoberg A, Hulthen L. Comparison of food habits, iron intake and iron status in adolescents before and after the withdrawal of the general iron fortification in Sweden. 2015 EJCN doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.291

Other Citations

Weaver CM, Dwyer J, Fulgoni VL, King JC, Leveille GA, MacDonald RS, Ordovas J, Schnakenberg D. Processed foods: contributions to nutrition. 2014 Am J Clin Nutr doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.089284

Fulgoni VL, Keast DR, Bailey RL, Dwyer J. Foods, fortificants, and supplements: Where do Americans get their nutrients? 2011 J Nutr doi: 10.3945/jn.111.142257