Fortified foods are items that have had vitamins and minerals that are not naturally occurring added. The purpose of fortification is to strengthen the foods that people eat. There are also foods on the market that are enriched. People often confuse these with fortified foods, but there is a major difference.
Enrichment is performed because a lot of what people eat is not fresh or in its natural form. Processing foods often destroys vitamins and minerals. To repair the damage, food is sometimes enriched. This means that the vitamins and minerals that were destroyed are replaced after processing. The nutrients that are added to fortified foods are not generally to be found in foods that have been enriched, even if they had not been processed.
Foods are fortified because the lack of proper nutrients can cause a number of health problems. Children who do not eat properly are often underweight and have stunted growth. Adults who do not eat properly tend to be more susceptible to illness and less productive than their peers who are properly nourished. Complications can also occur with pregnancies if the mother and unborn child are lacking certain nutrients.
In some cases, improper eating is the result of insufficient income. In other cases, it is the result of poor eating habits. Fortified foods help provide people in both cases with necessary nutrients.
In countries with high poverty rates, people tend to repeatedly eat the same basic items. Many governments have taken note of the most commonly consumed foods and decided that those items should be fortified with essential vitamins and minerals. These basic foods often include maize meal, bread flour, and milk.
Many fortified foods have been strengthened with more than one nutrient. Since some peoples’ diets are very limited, it is necessary to pack many vitamins and minerals into one item to ensure that those people avoid deficiencies. Iron, zinc, and folic acid are examples of minerals that are added to foods. Vitamin A, riboflavin, and thiamin are examples of vitamins that are commonly added.
Fortified foods are believed to benefit people in many ways. These items can give laborers the strength to work harder and longer. Children who generally have poor diets but begin to eat fortified foods are believed to perform better in school due to increased mental capacity.