Many people are still unaware about the benefits of Food fortification worldwide. However, in the last few years, several countries have initiated the practice of food fortification in their own lands to curb the nutritional woes of its citizens.
Considering the current situation, when we intake much of the impure food due to growing adulteration of farming methods, food fortification is becoming more urgent than ever.
Around 3 to 5 million people die due to nutritional deficiency every year. According to research study published on Copenhagenconsensus news portal, such deaths due to under nutrition and malnourishment could be prevented through food fortification.
It refers to a process of adding minerals and vitamins to foods to prevent diseases, and keeping people fit and in shape. It improves immune systems and cognitive development too. The grains like flour, rice, wheat and maize flour are fortified to prevent birth defects affecting spine and brain. It helps preventing nutritional anemia too.
The United Nations accepted 17 sustainable development goals with an intention to fortifying grains towards addressing the growing concern of malnutrition prevailing across the world, and especially in developing nations including the third world countries.
Food Fortification: Substances and Benefits
Vitamin B6: For enhancing enzyme reactions and metabolisms
Selenium: Stimulate Thyroid functions inside the body
Calcium: Helps strengthening the bones making them stronger and assist proper functioning of the muscles.
Zinc: Improves our immune system.
Vitamin B12: Assists in proper functioning of the brain and nervous system.
Vitamin D: It helps human bodies to absorb necessary amount of calcium strengthening their bones.
Necessity of Food Fortification in Africa
Africa reports maximum number of deaths due to malnutrition every year. In order to curb this menace now, FAO along with the UN and other international agencies of repute have strongly advocated for food fortification equally in all parts of Africa.
At present several countries are making mandatory legislation to ensure that food fortification process is completed transparently and in a meticulous manner. The European Union (EU) is making huge investments towards food fortification in African countries.
In Gambia, one of the poorest countries of Africa, the rate of malnutrition and underweight is growing day by day. Also, severe Vitamin A deficiency is rising very much in Gambia. Anemia is also becoming a common disease for women across the nation.
Food Fortification: New Trends and Need
Fortifying wheat flour with folic acid is vital to prevent neural tube defects. Without food fortification, as many as 1 in every 500 pregnancies get affected due to neural tube problems.
The rate of neural tube defects has plummeted by 35% in 1998 largely due to timely intervention by the concerned authority making food fortification obligatory.
In fact, several countries get affected due to such kind of defects which could be otherwise prevented by proper consumption of folic acid added to food grains and cereals. Folic acid also cures the diseases relating to neuropathy as well.
Since 1998, the United States has successfully prevented 3,000 cases of NTD (Neural Tube Defects) owing to its nationwide implementation of food fortification policies that include adding necessary amount of folic acid in necessary food grains.
It’s high time that all countries should follow food fortification process in a judicious way to ensure that people shouldn’t face problems relating to nutritional deficiency or other diseases that affect thousands of lives round the year due to malnutrition and under-nutrition.