March 30, 2017

31/03/2017: Calcium: a fortifying force?

By Stephanie Santana, FFI Graduate Research Assistant, Emory University

Globally, 85 countries require millers to fortify their flour with nutrients such as iron, riboflavin, folic acid, zinc, vitamin B12 and vitamin A

These nutrients have a range of benefits from assisting in cognitive development to strengthening immune systems. A lesser-used mineral with its own set of unique benefits is calcium.

However, the United Kingdom is one of the few countries that add it to flour.

How did this happen and what results has it yielded?

Anticipating a reduction in dairy products because of World War II, the United Kingdom enforced the fortification of flour with calcium carbonate during the early 1940s.

A possible concern may have been the increased risk of rickets, which can be caused by a deficiency of calcium, Vitamin D, or phosphate and result in weakened bones.

One of the companies following the mandate is Wessex Mill located in Oxfordshire, England.

“It was decided after WWII that white flour should have the same nutritional properties as wholemeal flour to boost the health of the population by providing them with vitamins through their bread,” said Emily Munsey, a Trainee Mill Manager at Wessex Mill.

Today, millers are also required to include iron, thiamine (Vitamin B1), and nicotinic acid.

How can Calcium can boost the health of a population?

Young children are encouraged to drink milk to develop strong bones and pearly white teeth. It is the most abundant mineral within a human body, and calcium remains as equally important to adults.

According to the United States National Institutes of Health, the mineral is necessary for performing key tasks, such as the transmission of nerve messages, muscle function, or blood clotting.

Furthermore, a lack of calcium may lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis. Humans do not produce calcium themselves.

We must consume it, and luckily, many foods offer it naturally. Those include cabbage, kale, broccoli, almonds, yogurt, cheese, and of course, milk. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that dairy products make up 50-80 percent of dietary calcium for most industrialized countries.

However, what if someone is allergic to dairy or what if dairy products were scarce in a region?

Well, fortified flour can be that steady alternative to maintain adequate calcium levels.

Read the full article HERE.

The Global Miller
This blog is maintained by The Global Miller staff and is supported by the magazine Milling and Grain
which is published by Perendale Publishers Limited.

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