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Extra Nutrients, Fortified Foods May Do More Harm Than Good

That box of fortified cereal may seem just right for your little toddler- but wait! Extra nutrients may actually not be a good thing, especially for little kids, pregnant women and the elderly.

Parents and adults are now advised to assess their nutrient intake and make sure they don’t overdo it, or they may actually pose certain health issues.

“We need enough of these nutrients for good health, but consuming too much can be harmful – especially to young children, the elderly and pregnant women. Because of flawed government policies and food producers who fortify foods with extra nutrients in the hope of boosting sales, many American children today are getting excessive amounts of certain nutrients,” a release announcing the report has stated.

Fortified Cereals May Not Be So Good After All Photo Credits: Flickr

Fortified Cereals and Extra Nutrients May Not Be So Good After All
Photo Credits: Flickr

An Environmental Working Group (EWG) has taken note of 141 snack bars and cereals that were over-fortified, and have warned consumers about limiting their consumption and not falling for their misleading marketing strategies.

“Heavily fortified foods may sound like a good thing, but it when it comes to children and pregnant women, excessive exposure to high nutrient levels could actually cause short or long-term health problems,” Renee Sharp, EWG’s research director and co-author of the report, explained.  “Manufacturers use vitamin and mineral fortification to sell their products, adding amounts in excess of what people need and more than might be prudent for young children to consume.”

Over 114 cereals were found to contain more than 30 percent of the daily required content of nutrients like vitamin A, zinc and niacin. To add to that, over 1000 snack bars were fortified with 50 percent or more of the daily required content of these essential nutrients.

Excess of vitamin A is linked to liver damage, hair loss and skeletal abnormalities, while an excess of zinc may cause red and white blood cells and the immune system to function insufficiently.  In older adults, too much vitamin A is thought to increase the risk of hip fractures and osteoporosis.

“In other words, when a parent picks up a box of cereal and sees that one serving provides 50 percent of the Daily Value for vitamin A, he or she may think that it provides 50 percent of a child’s recommended intake,” Olga Naidenko, Ph.D, an EWG research consultant and co-author of the report, added. “But he or she would most likely be wrong, since the Daily Values are based on an adult’s dietary needs.”

The EWG is currently attempting to get FDA to approve a labelling system that requires clear specifications of the daily requirement of several nutrients.

For all those keen on getting access to the list of cereals and snack bars, you can easily download it here.

About Enozia Vakil

Enozia Vakil is an online entrepreneur, writer, editor and an avid reader. She has been associated with some of the best names in both online and print media, and holds a degree in Alternative Medicine.