Additives That Should Be in Your Food
By Sara Butler
You probably read a lot about what you don’t want in your food, but what about the things you want to see on the nutrition label? Not all additives are bad for you, some are actually quite healthy. Here are some things you want to see on your favorite food’s label!
Food Fortification: A History
There have been things added to foods for decades that have one objective: Improving public health. Fortifying and enriching foods is one of the ways the United States government has tried to improve the health of its citizens. It has ushered in an end to many different nutritional deficiencies that were once a public health problem. For example:
- Iodine – This was added to salt in the 1920s in order to help prevent goiter.
- Vitamin D – This has been added to milk since the 1930s to help prevent rickets. If you’ve never heard of rickets, fortified milk is the reason why!
- Thiamin, niacin, iron, and riboflavin – These have been added to bread since the 1940s to help prevent conditions such as pellagra, anemia, and beriberi.
- Folic Acid – This has been added to grain products in order to help prevent neural tube defects in babies since 1988.
Common B Vitamins
Niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin are common B vitamins. They help support a healthy nervous system and metabolism, and they help to give you shiny hair and healthy skin! You can find these vitamins in enriched and whole grains, meat, milk products, beans, eggs, and nuts.
Another common B vitamin is folate (also called folic acid and folinic acid), which is important for a healthy nervous system and metabolism too. It reduces the risk of babies in utero developing spina bifida or other neural tube defects.
You will see this on the food label as 25-hydroxyvitamin D, calcidiol, dihydroxyvitamin D or ergocalciferol. At first glance, these names may throw you off, but Vitamin D is very important to the health of your immune system and contributes to brain and bone health. Sunlight is one source of Vitamin D, but many Americans are still deficient in it so dietary sources such as milk, oily fish, mushrooms and fortified cereals are important.
In the End
Some nutrients may have scary sounding names, but don’t assume everything you are unfamiliar with or can’t pronounce on the nutrition label of your food is bad for you. Some ingredients actually make your food healthier and improve your quality of life.