Fortified food with added vitamins and minerals has become popular in today’s food industry. Since you are more likely to buy foods that can bring you the most benefits, manufactures are constantly trying to add more variety and concentration of nutrients, so their product is more favorable to you. Understanding the properties of these vitamins and how your body uses them can help you make smarter and better food choices.
Vitamin A is needed for the production of retinal, light-absorbing metabolite in your retina. Vitamin A also acts as a hormone that affects cellular growth and regeneration. Deficiencies of this vitamin can be extremely damaging to your health. Consequences include loss of night vision, poor skin and hair quality, abnormal bone development and tumor growth. Adequate vitamin A intake is especially important to pregnant and lactating women because deficient mothers can significantly increase their baby’s risks for birth defects.
Extra vitamin A is often added into dairy, egg products and cereals in the amount between 20% and 30% of your recommended daily value (RDV). Some brands of cereals can add as much as 100% RDV to every serving.
Remember not to overdose on vitamin A. Since this vitamin is fat-soluble, it is much harder for your body to remove any excessive amount. Too much vitamin A can result in nausea, jaundice and blurry vision. So in this case, cereals that are fortified with 100% vitamin A can cause more harm than benefit.
Vitamins C and E: Antioxidants
Vitamins C and E are needed to help build your body’s defensive system against diseases. These are essential antioxidants that protect your cells from free radical attacks and environmental hazards.
Vitamin C is water-soluble, and is naturally abundant in fruits and vegetables. You can also find vitamin C in fortified fruit juices, baby foods and cereals. Increasing your vitamin C intake can significantly lower your risks for bacterial and viral infections and reduce your signs of aging. Vitamin C can also help reduce your stress level and keeps you from becoming depressed. Excess vitamin C is excreted through urine, so you don’t have to worry about an overdose.
Vitamin E is perhaps the most bioactive, fat-soluble antioxidant available. It gives you powerful protection against cell mutation and tumor growth, and can greatly reduce your chances of heart disease. Vitamin E is naturally high in fish, nuts and avocadoes, though you can also find it in egg substitutes and fortified cereals.
These water-soluble vitamins are needed for every function in your body. They are involved in cell metabolism, hormone production and DNA synthesis and replication. You can often find them listed on food labels as the following:
- Thiamine: vitamin B1
- Riboflavin: vitamin B2
- Niacin: vitamin B3
- Pantothenic acid: vitamin B5
- Vitamin B6
- Biotin: vitamin B7
- Folic acid or folate: vitamin B9
- Vitamin B12
Common products fortified with these vitamins include egg substitutes, cereal, grain products, enriched flours and baby formulas.
Vitamin D is supplemented wherever you find fortified calcium. Your body needs adequate vitamin D for proper calcium absorption. Deficiencies of vitamin D can lead to loss of bone density and poor dental health. Vitamin D is most often added to dairy and egg products, as well as cereals and baked goods.