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Fortified Foods: How Healthy Are They?

Fortified Foods: How Healthy Are They?

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Food companies are getting more creative with the products they’re enhancing — collagen-infused marshmallow, anyone? But can they really deliver on the health benefits they claim?

Dr. Hendler says in some cases there can even be advantages to the fortified variant over a multivitamin: “Many of these ingredients are fat-soluble, so they’re digested better when taken in food. They may also combine favorably with the food’s existing components, increasing potency that way.” Indeed, vitamin A’s fat-solubility is precisely the reason many margarine brands now include the ingredient. The vitamin D that’s routinely added to milk is often touted for aiding calcium absorption. But enhanced foods aren’t always as impressive as the label may suggest –especially when compared to whole foods. “Processing destroys nutrients, and the more processing there is, the more destruction you get,” says Marion Nestle, author and professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. “Fortification adds back some nutrients, so overall you’re better off with a processed fortified food than a processed unfortified one. But a whole food is always going to be superior.” – from WSJ

“The idea of a supplement or fortified foods is to fill a gap, to bring a person up to the recommended intake,” she says. “If you’re already at the recommended intake, it’s not going to do anything for you. It may work against you.” For instance, exceeding the tolerable upper intake level for vitamin C, 2,000 miligrams a day for adults, can cause diarrhea, an upset stomach and kidney stones. Likewise, while plant sterols and stanols added to your granola bar may help lower your cholesterol, you need only two grams of the substances a day. Exceeding that amount won’t give you any extra benefit and the long-term effects of getting too much are unknown, according to medical research in the Harvard Heart Letter. – from MSNBC