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J Nutr. 2002 Sep;132(9 Suppl):2927S-2933S.

Food fortification to reduce vitamin A deficiency: International Vitamin A Consultative Group recommendations.

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  • 1MOST, U.S. Agency for International Development Micronutrient Program, Arlington, VA 22209, USA.


In developed countries, food fortification has proven an effective and low-cost way to increase the micronutrient supply and reduce the consequences of micronutrient deficiencies. It has been rarely used in the developing world, but general conclusions can be drawn. The biological efficacy, but not the effectiveness, of fortifying oil and hydrogenated oil products as well as cereal flours and meals with vitamin A has been shown. Sugar has been fortified with vitamin A in Central American countries for years, and biological efficacy and program effectiveness are well established. Efficacy of fortifying monosodium glutamate with vitamin A was demonstrated but a program has not been established. Fortification with vitamin A in the developing world should satisfy certain elements for success. a) A potential food matrix (a food regularly consumed, produced by a few centralized factories, without sensorial changes compared with the nonfortified equivalent, and nutrient remains bioavailable and in a sufficient amount) is required. b) Fortified foods should provide at least 15% of the recommended daily intakes for the target group (e.g., individuals consuming the lowest amount of the fortified food). c) Voluntary fortification of processed foods should be regulated to prevent excessive consumption of vitamin A. d) Neighboring countries should harmonize technical standards, facilitate compliance and minimize conflicts over global trade laws. e) A practical monitoring system should be instituted. f) Social marketing activities should be permanent and aimed at industry, government and consumers. g) Food fortification should be combined with other strategies (e.g., supplementation) to reach those not adequately covered by fortification alone. Infants and small children, whose dietary habits differ from those of adults, require special attention. Fortification of food commodities is a very attractive and economic way to prevent and control vitamin A deficiency. Effective food fortification might make supplementation of postpartum women and older children unnecessary.

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