Bioavailability of Food Fortificants

The bioavailability of nutrients added to food can be determined by a number of factors. For example, in some cases the reactivity of added nutrients can cause untoward reactions that adversely affect the organo-leptic properties of food. In these cases, there must be a trade-off of some kind and it may be necessary to intentionally select a somewhat less bioavailable form of a nutrient to provide an acceptable consumer product or to provide an acceptable shelf life to the product under given field conditions. Moreover, once added to a food, the bioavailability of a fortifi-cant can be altered by various food manufacturing processes, such as those that demand high heat and pressure. Normal home food preparation techniques can also affect nutrient bioavailability. In addition, plant breeding and horticultural practices can contribute to the development and use of superior plant varieties supplying additional or more bioavailable micronutrients. For example, genetic engineering of plants has led to the development of rice and other grain products that have lower phytate content and higher mineral bioavailability. The development of 'Golden Rice,' which is rich in ^-carotene, a dietary precursor of vitamin A, represents a well-known example of genetic plant engineering to enhance nutrient intakes. There is increasing interest in genetic manipulation of plant stocks to achieve higher content of potentially healthful phytonutrients, such as lycopene and lutein. Internationally, the traditional focus of fortification has been directed at the 'Big 3' -deficiencies of vitamin A, iodine, and iron - due to the widespread prevalence of deficiencies of these particular micronutrients and well-known adverse health effects of these nutrient deficiencies.

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