FORTIFICATION IN FOOD? WHO IS BENEFITTING?
Compiled by Ida Erasmus
P.O. Box 11529
Cell: +264 81 128 8502
During July an advert by NAFIN was calling for Nutrition Consultants to submit a donor-ready project proposal of the fortification potential of Mahangu meal at the level of service mills in Namibia.
The terms of reference must be obtained from the Namibian Agronomic Board. I have done so and realized that the requirement seems to be very International for a local Nutritionist. However my attention was drawn to the legal choices to make it compulsory.
It is known that our neighbor, South-Africa’s fortification program is not correctly implemented as confirmed by Prof. Dr. Richard Hurrel of Switzerland, during the bi-annual Nutrition Congress of Southern Africa in Bloemfontein. Are we busy with mass medication on national country health level or who is really benefitting?
This draw my attention further towards fortification in Namibia as I am an Industrial Nutritionist, Unregistered and 24 years of tough experience in the Industry. Fortification can be good, if it is correctly applied to appropriate target groups as many scientific studies can proof and for example not the cheapest manufacturing iron, for this matter, is used. If not correctly applied, who is benefitting, maybe the suppliers of these products? …. e.g. BASF reported on their Food Navigator website, revenues to be 12.136 Billion Euro during a 9 month period, www.foodnavigator.com/Financial-Industry/Vitamin-price -drops..... and Reference also of Mrs. Aileen Robertson: WHO, Fortification of Food in Europe.
Nevertheless, I would always advise Industry to rather get involved with bio-availability of vitamins and nutrients in food and food programs. See research articles on Orange Flesh Sweet Potato and Indigenous and Traditional Foods in Swaziland. It is a long term and sustainable solution project of which Dr. Paolo Stuter, Director of Nestle Foundation, is willing to do with the University of Namibia or the Polytechnic students.
The human body is an orchestra of chemical compositions which act and react with each other and treat the pharmaceutical drugs different from our biological food consumption. Would it be right to use food as a vehicle for the extension of the pharmaceutical drug companies, who manufacture these vitamins and minerals? We are having illnesses and diseases, of which some cannot be pronounced, what to say heard of by the lay man or consumer? e.g. Irritable Bowel Disease, Colon Cancer, Digestive tract diseases, Diverticulitis, Celiac Disease, Digestive Spasms, Spastic Colon, Ulcerative Colitis, Allergies, Crohn’s Disease….
Mahangu or pearl millet is a “palatable preference” crop to work with as during the industrial dry milling process retains more nutrients than the traditional Namibian (steep then mill) process, but the product may be less preferred by the consumer.
The traditional processing of pearl millet, a steeping stage is included, which reduces the pH of the flour. This contributes to lightening color of the flour and the development of the sour taste desired by consumers or development of lactic acid. (Mallet and Du Plessis, 2001)
(Stephen Barrion, MSc (Agric) Food Science, University of Pretoria).
Fortifying or enriching the millet with synthetic vitamins and minerals, e.g. iron, zinc, folic acid, Vit A, B and C cause color changes and could affect the taste of the end product. How does Industry remove those color changes? Bleaching? Expensive industrial machines have to be bought to specifically add these fortifications at a specific time during the manufacturing process. Processing or machines of which can cost N$ 1.6 million to implement.
It is so that the University of Namibia, also tendered to do the fortification process, but the Tender was awarded to the Mills.
During the 24th Nutrition Society Congress of Africa, which was held in Bloemfontein in October 2012, Prof. Dr. Richard Hurrell of the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich was very surprised to hear that Namibia implemented a Food Fortification Program without a proper National Nutritional Survey for Namibia. firstname.lastname@example.org . The survey should state which nutrients the countries people are deficient of as we are fortifying now a whole nation or on national level, whilst our intention was to foreseen better health for a 9-12% malnourished figure. Could the question now be asked, what happens to the 88% on national level? Is our country not a democracy, where the majority rules? Under Nutrition/Malnourished children should be treated on a different level, not national level. They are mainly from very poor families. Most cannot even afford the so called fortified products. Are our obesity figures not higher than our malnourished figures, yes it is, +- 55% in Namibia! Even our Health Minister are concerned about our over nutrition figures or obesity in Parliament!
This brings me to the point, I really want to make: We need more studies or surveys of Flour Fortification at Post-Implementation stage, the long term effect of consumption, etc . I refer to the most recent survey done by Nigel Sunley, Rizwan Yusufali, Maude de Hoop, Dora Pangides. Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). Article of GAIN Attached.
Flour Fortification in South Africa: Post Implementation Survey of Micronutrient Levels at Point of Retail.
CONCLUSION: “ The current levels of micronutrients added to maize meal and bread flour are unsatisfactory. This is likely to be because of dosing inconsistencies resulting in insufficient addition of premix at the mills. This affects the availability and intake by consumers of fortified product and potentially reduces the desired reduction in vitamin and mineral deficiencies expected through the flour fortification program. In order to improve the levels of premix addition, two approaches could be envisioned: improving control of premix addition or increasing the overall level of premix addition. In practice, a combination of the two approaches would probably prove the most effective.”
Namibia is a red meat consuming country, red meat contains good levels of iron, zinc, folic acid, B-vitamins, and liver is a good source of Vitamin A. We cannot take over other countries food fortification programs; Namibia has a population of 2.1 million, South-Africa 40 million, with provinces like Limpopo, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Northern Cape, etc. with such diverse nutritional status.
Mr. Robert Ackatia-Armah, M. Phil., College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, stated that it is one of the rules of the WHO, regarding fortification, number one, do a National Nutritional Survey of the country concerned. email@example.com
Prof. Dr. Richard Hurrell, professor for Human Nutrition at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, is willing to help Namibia in this regard as we have a small population, compare to other countries. Prof. Sam Shikongo of Namibia, Biological Scientist of Namibia and Associated Professor with Yale University are also willing to help Namibia with the Nutritional Status Survey.
One of the well known reasons for fortification is the Stunting figures (reduced growth rate in human development). As an indicator of nutritional status, comparisons of children’s measurements with growth reference curves may be used differently for populations of children than for individual children. The fact that an individual child falls below the fifth percentile for height for age on a growth reference curve (Standards of the U.S.A. or WHO), may reflect normal variation in growth within a population: the individual child may be short simply because both his parents carried genes for shortness and not because of inadequate nutrition! It is also true that if Namibians have to adopt Chinese Standards, our Stunting figures would drop tremendously and our Obesity or Over nutrition figures would be extremely high! Which way should we go? Namibia is 20 years Independent and should have developed data or enough statistics of weight and height for different age groups during this period by the Ministry of Health and Social Services.
Briem, fish from the Zambezi river in the Caprivi, served with 5 year spinach, a healthy meal served at Katima Mulillo Open Market.
100 Years ago if a medical doctor saw a case of cancer he would call all his colleagues to come and have a look, telling them it was unlikely they would see another case, as cancer was so rare. People rarely died of heart attacks; in fact the term heart attack itself didn’t even exist. There was no incidence at all of atherosclerosis. Diabetes was practically unheard of. What did they eat? Fruits, vegetables, meat, butter and lard. But none of it was processed with drugs and chemicals.
By reading this the intention is not in the spirit of who is to blame, but rather to let us think and reconsider what we are really doing with our food? An expensive commodity in today’s way of surviving.
Today, more people dies of cancer or heart diseases. Diabetes is taking the lead in many aspects of our health diseases and is now even more prominent among our children and teenagers. Is that PROGRESS?
If you are a food manufacturer it is, and especially if you are a drug manufacturer. Male sperm count is less than 20% of what it was in 1929. Infant mortality is up; birth defect is up. Who are the largest advertisers for TV and the printed media? Right: drug companies and food manufacturers.
How many people do you know these days that got scurvy, Beri-Beri, Ragites, etc., diseases caused by vitamin deficiencies? To name a few - symptoms of Vit C deficiency: Scurvy is: bleeding gums, slow wound healing, softening bones, loose teeth or ulcerations of the mouth and digestive tract and fatigue. Vitamin A deficiencies like night blindness?
Did you know that 20mg of biological ascorbic acid in a potato is all the body needs not only to prevent scurvy, but also to cure it, even in its advanced state? Since it is complex in a food source, such a remedy is described in detail in Richard Dana’s amazing journal Two Years Before the Mast, written in 1840. The Nobel Prize laureate, Dr. Albert Szent-Georgi discovered Vitamin C in 1937. He found that he could never cure scurvy with the isolated ascorbic acid itself. Realizing that he could always cure scurvy with the “impure” vitamin C found in simple foods, Szent-Georgi discovered that other factors had to be at work in order for vitamin activity to take place. He returned to the laboratory and eventually made the discovery of another member of the vitamin C complex, rutin. All the factors in the complex: ascorbic acid, rutin, P factors, J factors, K factors, tyrosinase was synergists: co-factors which together sparked the “functional interdependence of biologically related nutrient factors”. That means each of the other synergists in the C complex has a separate function:
P factors for blood vessel strength, J factors for oxygen-carrying capacity of red cells, tyrosine’s as an essential enzyme for enhancing white blood cell effectiveness.
Ascorbic acid is just the antioxidant outer shell – the protector of all these other synergists to that they will be able to perform their individual functions.
What about Linus Pauling, double Nobel Prize laureate, and his lifetime espousal of megadosing on ascorbic acid – up to 10 g per day? He lived to be 93?
Are we saying that he took a synthetic vitamin all that time? Yes, that’s exactly right. Bernard Jensen suggests that ascorbic acid has an acidifying effect in part of the digestive tract, making an unfriendly environment for viruses, Candida and pathogenic bacteria. Pauling’s good health was not the result of synthetic vitamin activity, but of good genetics and maintaining an internal bioterrain not conducive to inflammation are likely what brought longevity to Linus Pauling. He eventually died of cancer at 93.
Perhaps Hippocrates did not envision doctors as detail men or drug reps. He most likely though likes Henry Bieler, MD:
“Nature, if given the opportunity is always the greatest healer. It is the physician’s role to assist in this healing, to play a supporting role.”
Finding the Right Cure for You.
Dr. Tim O’Shea
For the licensed dieticians and clinical nutritionists reading this in disbelief, because it is too “unscientific”, consider the way Theron Randolph MD delineated between natural and synthetic:
“A synthetically derived substance may cause a reaction in a chemically susceptible person when the same material of natural origin is tolerated, despite the two substances having identical chemical structures. The point is illustrated by the frequency of clinical reactions to synthetic vitamins – especially Vit B1 and C – when the naturally occurring Vitamins are tolerated.”
What is Fortification?
Means the addition of one or more nutrient(s) to a food whether or not it is normally contained in the food for the purpose of preventing or correcting a demonstrated deficiency in one or more nutrients in the population or specific population group(s) by the relevant authority;What is Enrichment?
Means the addition of one or more nutrient(s) to a food whether or not it is normally contained in the food with the sole purpose of adding nutritional value to the food;
What is a Vitamin?
“A working process consisting of the nutrient, enzymes, coenzymes, antioxidants and trace minerals activators”
“Vitamins are not individual molecular compounds. Vitamins are biological complexes. They are multi-step biochemical interactions whose action is dependent upon a number of variables within the biological terrain. Vitamin activity only takes place when all conditions are met within that environment, and when all co-factors and components of the entire vitamin complex are present and working together. Vitamin activity is even more than the sum of all those parts; it also involves timing.Vitamins cannot be isolated from their complexes and still perform their specific life functions within the cells. When isolated into artificial commercial forms, like ascorbic acid, these purified synthetics act as drugs in the body. They are no longer vitamins, and to call them such is inaccurate.”
Dr. Timothy O’SheaVitamins are living complexes which contribute to other higher living complexes – like cell repair, collagen manufacture, and maintenance of blood circulation. Ascorbic acid is not a living complex. It is a fractionated, crystalline isolate of vitamin C!.
Most Vitamins cannot be made by the body. They must be taken in as food. The best sources then are obviously whole foods, rich in vitamins. Because of soil depletion, mineral depletion, pesticides, air pollution, and erosion, it is common knowledge that foods grown in American soil today have only a fraction of the nutrient value of 50 years ago. That means a fraction of the vitamins and minerals necessary for normal human cell function. Royal Lee describes the American diet as the cultivation and production of “devitalized foods”. Dr. Weston Price describes these products as the “Foods of Commerce”, or “Nutrifluff” as Marion Nestle, Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University refers to it.Vitamins and minerals are not functionally separable. They make each other work. E.g. Vit D is necessary for the body to absorb calcium. Copper is necessary for Vit C activity. Mineral deficiencies can cause vitamin deficiencies, and vice verca. So that is the other prime difference between whole food vitamins and synthetics: whole food vitamins contain within them many essential trace minerals necessary for their synergistic operation. Synthetic vitamins contain no trace minerals, relying on, and depleting, the body’s own mineral reserves.
‘Natural food-source vitamins are enzymatically alive. Made-made synthetic vitamins are dead chemicals.” De Cava (Nutrition Authority).“Fortified” can also means that the food itself is devoid of nutrients or enzymes, so they tried to pump it up a little with some “vitamins”. Cheap synthetic vitamin sprays are all that is required for the manufacturer to use labels like “enriched” and “fortified”. These words are red flags – if a food needs to be fortified or enriched, you can bet it was already dead.
“Vitamin C” –Many people buy Vitamin C as ascorbic acid, but Ascorbic Acid is not Vit C and in fact taken by itself can be quite irritating to the lining of the digestive tract. Complete Vitamin C is composed of many co-factors such as rutin, bioflavonoids, Factor K, J P, Tyrosinase, Ascorbinogen, Ascorbic acid and other components. Each of these is vital to the complete biological activity that enables Vit C to function fully. Ascorbic acid is only a very small fraction of naturally occurring Vitamin C.
As humans lack the microsomal enzyme L-gulonolactone oxidase, they are unable to synthesize vitamin C and they therefore need to obtain it directly from fresh fruit and vegetables in the diet! (Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 10th edition, JS Garrow, WPT James, A Ralph.)To differentiate their product, each makes claims of “high potency”. Our vitamins are higher potency than theirs, etc. The point is, the higher the potency, the more the drug-like effects are present. Natural whole food vitamins are very low potency. E.g. like the difference between white sugar and the type of sugar that is in an apple.
Remember the 20 mg of Vitamin C in a potato that was able to cure a patient of scurvy? That was low potencyVitamin A
Was discovered in 1919. By 1924, it had been broken down and separated from its natural whole food complex “purified” By 1931, La Roche – one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, even today – had succeeded in “synthesizing” Vitamin A. That means they had created a purely chemical copy of a fraction of naturally occurring Vit A. Naturally occurring Vit A is found associated with an ertire group of other components:Retinols Enzymes
Isolated from these other factors, Vitamin A is a fraction which cannot perform its biological functions. Taken as a synthetic, it must then draw on this list of resources already in the body in order to complete its make-up. Whole food Vitamin A, by contrast, is already complete and ready to go.
Most synthetic Vit A consists only of retinal, retinol, or retinoic acid. The well-publicized potential for toxiciitiy with mega doses of Vit A involves one of these three. Vitamin A toxicity, known as hypervitaminosis, always results from an excess of synthetic “purified Vitamin A, and never from whole food Vitamin A. Effects of Vitamin A toxicity include:
Tumor enhancementJoint disorders
Extreme dryness of eyes, mouth and skin,
Enlargement of Liver and Spleen
Beta Carotene is a precursor the body can convert to Vitamin A. Unfortunately, as a supplement, synthetic beta carotene is usually “stabilized in refined vegetable oils. In this transfatty acid form, oxidation occurs and the chemically “pure” beta carotenes can no longer act as a nutrient, because it was changed. Almost all synthetic beta carotene is produced by the Swiss drug giant Hoffman-La Roche. This form can no longer be converted to Vitamin A. The best it can be is worthless, and at the worst is toxic.
Natural Vitamin A and beta carotene are well known as immune boosters and cancer fighters, in their role as antioxidants. Synthetic Vitamin A by contrast has actually brought about significant increases in cancer. A study done in Finland provided smokers with large doses of synthetic beta carotene. Lung cancer incidence increased 18%! (NEJM Apr 94 The Alpha Tocopherol Beta Carotene Cancer Prevention Study Group”)
Fake Vitamin B
In one experiment, synthetic Vitamin B (Thiamine) was shown to render 100% of a group of pigs sterile!
Perhaps the fact that synthetic Vitamin B comes from coal tar, maybe that has something to do with it, you think? Then there’s Vitamin B12, which comes from activated sewage sludge. Most people do not know that most B vitamins are made from petrochemicals! For your best health, take a whole-nutrient B vitamin or red meat and avoid synthetics. Anyhow, anything containing carbon is considered to be an organic compound.
Sorghum, Samp, Maize, Millet, Beans, etc. highly nutritious food available in rural Namibia at affordable prices.
Picture taken at the Katima Mulillo, Open Market during October 2012
Natural food-source vitamins are enzymatically alive. Man-made synthetic vitamins are dead chemicals”.
A recent article published on the 2nd August 2012 by electronic magazine Foodstuff reported on an unfolding epidemic, gluten free products are flying off grocery shelves and restaurants are boasting of meals with no gluten. Market research done by the firm Mintel in the US, found that 7$billion will be spend on foods labeled gluten-free. In the most serious cases, gluten triggers celiac disease. The condition causes abdominal pain, bloating and intermittent diarrhea. Those with the ailment don’t’ absorb nutrients well and can suffer weight loss, fatigue, rashes and other problems.
Celiac disease is different from an allergy to wheat, which affects a much smaller number of people, mostly children who outgrow it.
Scientists suggest that there may be more celiac disease today because people eat more processed wheat products like pastas and baked good than in decades past, and those items use types of what that have a higher gluten content.
The question remains should Namibia fortify its maize and now mahangu flours and legalized it? The decisions will not be made by Scientist, Biologists or Nutritionists, but by the Industry who can deliver Economies of Scale.
Compiled by Ida Erasmus
Unregistered Industry Nutritionist