Fortified foods have special nutrients added by the manufacturers. Sometimes these are added to replace those lost during processing. For example, milling rice or cereal grains removes several useful vitamins and minerals. Sometimes they are added because people often lack enough of these in their diet. Fortified food often costs the same as unfortified food and is generally useful. However, a good balanced diet should already provide these nutrients for most people.

One of the most common nutrients to be added is vitamin A, which is often added to margarine, ghee and milk powder. Iron is sometimes added to wheat flour, bread and cereal products, particularly weaning cereals. Vitamin B may also be added to cereals and bread.

In many areas people do not get enough of the mineral iodine. Lack of iodine can cause children to learn more slowly and cause the growth of goitres in the neck. Women who lack iodine are more likely to have miscarriages, stillbirths or babies born with deformities. Always buy iodised salt if it is available.

Discussion

  • What foods do you buy that are fortified? If you cannot think of any, read the labels carefully on packets and tins to check.
  • What are the benefits of buying fortified foods?
  • Are there any disadvantages to buying fortified foods? What are these?
  • Do any local people suffer from goitres on their necks? If so, is iodised salt available? How could local shopkeepers be encouraged to sell salt containing iodine to prevent other people developing goitres?
  • Is it possible to buy wheat, bread or cereals fortified with iron in our local area? If not, what other sources of iron are available? (Look back to N7.)