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Food Claims: What does "Fortified" & "Enriched" Really Mean?

Claims are often made on packaged foods as a way to convince you it may be healthier and you buy it. For instance, "low in fat", "low in cholesterol", "fort
Aug 18, 2010 | Joy McCarthy

Claims are often made on packaged foods as a way to convince you it may be healthier and you buy it. For instance, "low in fat", "low in cholesterol", "fortified with iron or calcium" or "enriched with vitamins". Here's a quick guide to some of the problems with these claims.

What is Fortified?

Fortified means that a nutrient has been added to the food because during manufacturing it was removed, or it was never naturally present. They tend to be isolated nutrients that studies have been shown are deficient in our diet ie. iron.

The problem with fortification is that the natural synergy of nutrients is lost with they are taken separately like this. What I mean by this is natural foods contain many nutrients that the body can easily recognize because they are in their natural state and therefore, you can easily digest and absorb. There are literally thousands of nutrients and phytochemicals that work together in a perfect state of harmony. When you isolate one, the body simply doesn't recognize it the same way.

Furthermore, foods are fortified using the cheapest form of a nutrient that your body cannot even absorb. Remember, it's to sell the product, not to make you healthy. Calcium and vitamin D are great examples of this. Usually the type of calcium used is calcium carbonate which is poorly used by the body and can lead to a build up of calcium deposits that can cause health problems. Calcium uptake is affected by magnesium, vitamind D, boron, fibre and many other nutrients that occur naturally in foods.

Nature has a way of getting it right that packaged foods simply cannot replicate.

Vitamin D is another great example. Many beverages fortified with D are using the absolute cheapest form of D, vitamin D2 which your body does not recognize or absorb. Don't waste your money.

What is Enriched?

Pasta (and rice) is a great example of this. During the processing of the grain, virtually all the B vitamins are removed, plus most of the minerals, all of the fibre and good fat, leaving you with a starchy, highly refined product with very little nutritional value. By law, food manufacturers are required to add back the B vitamins. However, the form of these vitamins is not the same form they were naturally present in the grain before it was refined.

Just look at the label of any white rice or white pasta product and you will see all the B vitamins listed. Buy whole grain pasta or brown rice and you certainly won't see vitamins listed. Why? Because whole real food doesn't need to add what is already naturally present!

Remember, healthy food doesn't need a health claim! If you are confused with what's healthy and what's not healthy just eat real food and you won't have to decipher the mixed marketing messages.

Aug 18, 2010 BY Joy McCarthy
Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday   •   August 18, 2010

What's the best form of vitamin D?

joyousness   •   August 18, 2010

Kristen   •   August 18, 2010

This is a great post! Very enlightening. I have a question: I;m a huge believer in food over supplements, but do you think this means we need to increase the volume of food we eat? Do you think that the quality of our food products are high enough to attain proper nutrition without supplementation of fortification?

joyousness   •   August 19, 2010

Heidi   •   August 18, 2010

Great post. I'm just reading Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food which talks about this same thing.

joyousness   •   August 19, 2010

Bill   •   August 18, 2010

I'm with you on eating real foods. What is your take on vitamin supplements?


jasna   •   August 25, 2010

Hi, Thank you for your sweet comment, I LOVE reading your tweets and website with all your great tips! Have a lovely day xx


SEM   •   April 20, 2013

Howdy! I simply wish to give an enormous thumbs up for the great data you’ve got here on this post. I shall be coming back to your weblog for more soon.


yeh   •   April 7, 2014

in which foods vit D is there, i am suffering from severe Vit D and calcium problem,i had removed whole thyroid gland and now suffering from Para-thyroid problems.Please help

Joy McCarthy   •   April 8, 2014
Chandler   •   May 21, 2015

Mark   •   December 23, 2015

Great article


Peter   •   February 20, 2017

Um, in response to getting vitamin D. The sun is our source for vitamin D and it has been here way longer than skin cancer and chemicals we put on our skin to "protect" us from it! I suggest you get as much sun as possible and skip the sunscreen! All you are doing is baking in chemicals to your skin. Drop the dairy as well


Rachel   •   February 21, 2017

Hey Peter! That's definitely true! The sun is one of our richest source so Vitamin D. However, here in the Great White North (Oh, Canada!) we cannot get Vitamin D from the sun during the Winter months so it's best to turn to whole food sources or a high quality supplement :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team


Gary Taylor   •   May 6, 2017

You go girl


Kamala   •   July 22, 2017

This post was very useful! Thank you so much! It really helped me for my Food and Consumer lesson!

Rachel Molenda   •   July 24, 2017

Manju   •   August 21, 2017

Thank u everyone on the above I learned more about vitamin D.

Rachel Molenda   •   August 21, 2017

Nana   •   November 13, 2017

Thanks for the valuable information, I've been struggling with all this labeling on products. Now I know.

Rachel Molenda   •   November 13, 2017

Regina   •   December 3, 2017

praise the Lord, thank you very much for that information. This is my first time using this site, but it probably won’t be my last.

Rachel Molenda   •   December 4, 2017

Quieta   •   April 17, 2018

In an example of fortified nut milk with B12... would this be ok? Or would a supplement be better?

Rachel Molenda   •   April 17, 2018

Stephen   •   May 15, 2018

Thank you for the healthful information did not really absorb it until now

Rachel Molenda   •   May 15, 2018

Samuel   •   June 6, 2018

How do they actually fortify and enrich our food? What is the process?

Joy McCarthy   •   June 6, 2018

Ada   •   November 7, 2018

Just found out my daughter calcium are very low after getting her lab works and advice to take atleast 4000 unit of vitamin D a day , isn’t that a little bit to much for an 11 yrs old?

Joy McCarthy   •   November 7, 2018

Patricia Saylor   •   January 27, 2020

After searching the internet for a "precise definition" of what is "non-fortified vs fortified" rice, I finally came upon your website. Thank you for a straight, short, to the point definition of fortified/enriched rice/pasta !! Thank you !

Joy McCarthy   •   January 28, 2020

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