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Vitamin and Mineral Fortification

Health Canada has recently released its Proposed Policy Recommendations for the Addition of Vitamins and Minerals to Foods. The document is the result of consultations with various players in the food / nutrition sector with a view to setting up clear guidelines about the fortification of foods. There is a need to set down clear rules by which food manufacturers can supplement foods and beverages, and at the same time protect the consumer from being overwhelmed by an avalanche of new and improved foods that contain additives only because they are trendy. This is most evident in recommendation 3: “It is recommended that addition of vitamins and minerals to foods not be permitted where no adequate nutritional rationale can be provided.”


There is no doubt that store shelves are filled more and more by traditional foods and beverages that have added vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other health promoting ingredients that either aren’t normally found in the food or are at levels higher that normal. You find the same thing in the drugstore where vitamin E capsules are found side by side - 200, 400, and 800 IU’s per capsule. Is more better? If 200 is good, is 800 four times better? It is obvious that manufacturers think so, but all the options they give you just cause confusion. Finally Health Canada has said enough is enough.

It makes no sense to have a cola drink with high levels of folic acid, for example, just so that the manufacturer can say proclaim ‘now with folic acid.’ It seems that Health Canada will now require some explanation as to why a particular vitamin or mineral has been added. There has to be a good reason for adding it. As we learn more about how vitamins, minerals and other food ingredients fight disease and infection, this may not be as hard to justify as it seems. It would be easy for a cola manufacturer to argue that cola is a very common component of the adolescent diet and so it a good vehicle to use to supplement the diet of young women as they approach child bearing age. So why not add folic acid?

It will be interesting to see how closely food manufacturers adhere to the new Health Canada guidelines and how many food products challenged as being superfluous.

The full text of the recommendations can be found at :Health Canada1

Canadian Weighted Recommended Nutrient Intakes
Vitamins Minerals
Vitamin A (RE): 870 Calcium (mg):780
Vitamin D (mcg): 3 Iodide (mcg):155
Vitamin E (mg): 7 Iron (mg):10
Vitamin C (mg): 34 Phosphorus (mg): 885
Thiamin (mg): 1 Magnesium (mg): 210
Riboflavin (mg): 1.2 Zinc (mg):10
Niacin (mg): 16    
Vitamin B6 (mg): 1    
Folacin (mcg): 195    
Vitamin B12 (mcg): 1   
Pantothenic Acid (mg): 5   

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