Millions of well-intentioned American parents, unbeknownst to them, are over-fortifying their kids with too many nutrients. That’s according to a report published earlier this year by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
EWG, an American-based health and research organization, analyzed the nutrition facts labels for 1,550 breakfast cereals and found that 114 cereals were fortified by the manufacturer with 30 percent or more of the adult Daily Value of vitamin A, zinc, and/or niacin. They also looked at 1,000 snack bars and found that 27 common brands were fortified with 50 percent or more of the Daily Value of at least one of those nutrients.
Among the most fortified cereals were:
- General Mills’ Total line
- Wheaties Fuel
- Kellogg’s Product 19
- Smart Start
- All-Bran Complete
- Cocoa Krispies
The most fortified snack bars included
Food Awards: Best & Worst Breakfast Cereals
When foods are fortified, vitamins and minerals that aren’t originally in a food are added by the manufacturer. Classic examples include adding vitamin D to milk, iron to flour, fiber to cereal, and iodine to salt. Since 1998, folic acid has been added to breads, cereals, and other products that use enriched flour in an effort to reduce Spina Bifida and other serious birth defects. The idea of fortification was developed almost 100 years ago to treat common nutrition-deficiency diseases.
But it is possible to consume too many fortified foods, especially by children, because the Daily Values are set for the needs of adults not kids. Furthermore, the Daily Value standards were set in 1968 and so some are higher than levels currently deemed to be safe. (more…)
Here in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates food safety. Denmark’s equivalent to that is the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, also known as the DVFA. Stateside, we tend to think of extra vitamins as a positive thing but in Denmark, vitamin fortified food is a diet-don’t. The DVFA has made it clear that their stance on fortifying foods with vitamins and minerals is one of suspicion and concern.
The theory held within the DVFA is that a properly balanced diet negates the necessity for supplementing with extra vitamins. In fact, they believe so strongly in the dangers of vitamin and mineral overdose that fortified foods must first be approved through a pricey application process. Foods found to contain what the DVFA classifies as dangerous levels of fortification are not granted approval.
Among the products recently pulled from the shelves of a small Copenhagen store is Ovaltine. At my home, we use Ovaltine as a chocolate milk treat because it’s nutrient enriched- I feel a lot better about that decision as opposed to pouring a giant glob of chocolate flavored syrup in to my son’s cup. What strikes me as particularly odd is that Ovaltine hasn’t yet been granted shelf-space and yet Red Bull (with its copious amounts of both vitamins and caffeine) has, according to the New York Times.
Researchers at Creighton University School of Medicine and University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine are saying that people need to get a much higher amount of vitamin D to protect themselves from cancer.
“We found that daily intakes of vitamin D by adults in the range of 4,000-8,000 IU are needed to maintain blood levels of vitamin D metabolites in the range needed to reduce by about half the risk of several diseases – breast cancer, colon cancer, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes,” said Cedric Garland, Dr. P.H., professor of family and preventive medicine at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.
The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention recommends that people get their vitamin D from a combination of our dietary choices and supplements, not by making an effort to get more sun exposure which helps out bodies produce it.
The more researchers learn about the vitamin D, the more it seems to be essential for our well-being. Seeing that most of us can’t get enough of the “sunshine vitamin” most of the year (winter just makes it so darn hard!), many of us are deficient in this key vitamin- especially now that the recommended levels of vitamin D for adults and children have been increased. Because getting the country on a regular vitamin-D supplement regimen isn’t really feasible, researchers have been working on the best way to up our intake. One solution? A new vitamin D-fortified food: bread made with high-vitamin D yeast.
In a study published in ACS Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers did experiments with laboratory rats and found that bread made with vitamin D2-rich yeast had effects that seemed just as beneficial as taking vitamin D3. Previously, vitamin D2 was not thought to be not as biologically active as the form produced by the sun, vitamin D3.
Even though the American Heart Association recommends 25-30 grams of dietary fiber daily to help prevent disease and regulate bodily functions, it has been reported that nine out of ten Americans still consume only about half that amount.
As consumers seek more ways to consume fiber, food companies are responding by reformulating products to include more whole grains and fiber supplements to soups, yogurts, granola bars, baking mixes and even Splenda, a zero-calorie sweetener made from sucralose.
While it’s certainly positive to see people consuming more fiber, Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD, the author of bestselling The F-Factor Diet and SkinnyInTheCity.com cautions that as fiber becomes a nutrition trend, companies are adding fiber to foods that are inherently not healthy.