June 06, 2018

07/06/2018: Fortification helps ensure adequate intake of essential b vitamins

by the Food Fortification Initiative, Atlanta, USA

Everyone needs a small daily supply of thiamine and riboflavin to get energy from the food they eat and to help make red blood cells. While these nutrients are found naturally in many foods, some people may not get an adequate amount. Consequently, 65 countries add thiamine and riboflavin to at least one industrially milled cereal grain, according to the Food Fortification Initiative (FFI).

Thiamine (vitamin B1) and riboflavin (vitamin B2) are among eight B vitamins. The others are niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), B6, biotin (B7), folic acid (B9) and B12. These vitamins are naturally found in fish, poultry, meat, eggs, dairy products, and leafy green vegetables.

Despite the food sources, getting enough of these B vitamins can be challenging for people who do not eat diversified diets. Some people may not have access to nutrient-rich foods, some may avoid eating animal products, some may not be able to afford a wide selection of foods, and others may prefer less nutritious foods.

In addition, people cannot store B vitamins. These vitamins are water soluble, which means any excess is eliminated in urine. As a result, people need to consume B vitamins every day.

Whole grains provide some B vitamins, but most nutrients are in the grains’ outer layers, which are removed during milling. Fortification restores the vitamins or adds more nutrients as needed by consumers.

While all the B vitamins are essential for health, this article will focus on thiamine and riboflavin. Both nutrients are important for growth, development, and function of human cells.

“Thiamine deficiency can cause loss of weight and appetite, confusion, memory loss, muscle weakness, and heart problems. Severe thiamine deficiency leads to a disease called beriberi with the added symptoms of tingling and numbness in the feet and hands, loss of muscle, and poor reflexes,” according to the US National Institutes of Health. People with alcoholism may also develop a thiamine deficiency condition known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which causes tingling, and numbness in the hands and feet, severe memory loss, disorientation, and confusion.

To fortify wheat flour, 6.4 parts thiamine per million parts flour will restore the thiamine that is in wheat naturally but removed in the milling process, according to FFI. Lena Kampehl of Mühlenchemie said thiamine mononitrate is the most commonly used form of thiamine for wheat flour fortification; 64 countries include thiamine in their standards for wheat flour fortification.

For maize flour fortification, the World Health Organization recommends 3.9 parts thiamine per million parts maize flour. The recommended compound is thiamine hydrochloride. Sixteen countries include thiamine in their standards for maize flour fortification. For rice fortification, suggested nutrient levels range from 2.0 to 0.35 parts thiamine per million parts rice. The exact amount to use is determined by the population’s average rice consumption. The recommended compound is thiamine mononitrate. Seven countries include thiamine in their standards for rice fortification.

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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