Why do we Fortify Foods?

Fortification of foods traces back to vitamin deficiencies. Vitamin deficiencies pose a serious threat to human health. Various diseases, such as rickets, can be traced back to the lack of vitamin D. So how do we treat a vitamin deficiency? Simple: get more of it. Unfortunately, the answer is never that simple.

Vitamin D is known as the "Sunshine Vitamin", as it is produced in the skin by exposure to sunlight. In today’s society, many people spend entire days indoors; the office, home, workshop all provide shelter from the sun, thereby preventing us from getting enough of this vitamin. Vitamin D is not present in many foods that we consume on a daily basis, so it was decided decades ago to fortify certain foods with this vitamin. Milk was an obvious choice, as it is consumed by many people on a daily basis, particularly children.

In order to make milk safer for human consumption, it is pasteurized, and is often found in "skim" forms. By removing a large amount of the fat in milk, the fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A & D, are also removed. Therefore, it is necessary to replace these vitamins prior to consumption. This is done by adding "premixed" vitamin concentrates to the milk. The only way to be 100% sure that the vitamins have been replaced in appropriate quantities is by doing an analysis on the finished product, which, until now, was not feasible.