Why Fortify Foods?

Why Fortify Foods?

With the theory of iron overload gaining attention, many are wondering about the practice of fortifying foods.   This practice began in the United States in 1940 and successfully reduced rates of iron-deficiency anemia.   Sweden began fortifying foods with iron in 1948, but in 1995 Swedish health authorities abandoned the practice because its effect was uncertain.   But by then the rate of primary liver cancer, perhaps not coincidentally, had increased by 3.5 times among Swedish women. [1]   It took about 25 to 30 years for the iron overload problem to become apparent.   Could iron be raising the disease rates in the United States?   Some health experts have recommended iron-fortified foods be labeled as intended only for growing children and young to middle-aged women, and not for adult males, postmenopausal women or those who have undergone early hysterectomies in their 20s, 30s and 40s. [2]


1. Olsson KS, et al.
The effect of withdrawal of food iron fortification in Sweden as studied with phlebotomy in subjects with genetic hemochromatosis
Eur J Clin Nut 1997 (Nov);   51 (11):   782-6

2. Cook JD, et al.
Iron deficiency: the global perspective
Adv Exp Med Biol 1994;   356:   219-28.

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