Vitamin D in Milk
In the early 20th century, rickets (soft bones and skeletal malformation from incomplete bone growth) was common among underprivileged children living in industrialized cities. Inadequate diet, poor hygiene, and lack of exercise were among the factors believed to play a role in the formation of this disease. The relationship between diet and rickets was not clearly understood until an English physician conducted the first experimental study on rickets with dogs. His observations of specific ‘anti-rachitic’ factors found in cod liver oil, butter and whole milk eventually led to the identification, purification and synthesis of vitamin D. Subsequently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established a standard of identity (SOI) for milk which included the optional addition of vitamins A and D. Today, the majority of our milk is fortified with vitamin D. However, additional food sources of vitamin D are limited, so obtaining vitamin D solely through dietary sources can be challenging and many people fall short of their daily requirements for vitamin D. Naturally occurring sources are also limited mostly to oily fish and cod liver oil. Besides milk, select foods such as cereals and orange juice may be fortified with vitamin D. Supplements may also be necessary and are readily available. Because certain brands rather than all items within a food category may be fortified, it may be helpful to check the nutrition facts on food packets.
f) ICDS programmes in West Bengal, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar are providing candies fortified with vitamin A, iron, folic acid and vitamin C to children aged 2–6 years as well as pregnant and lactating women.
g) The government of West Bengal has been distributing sachets of multiple micronutrient powder or sprinkles to the mothers of children below two years of age at ICDS centres. The supplements are administered with any kind of food given to the children.
Experience has shown that when a leader in the food industry takes the first step by fortifying food on a voluntary basis, it can result in many other food companies following suit. This voluntary fortification of foods by the industry also gives confidence to governments to consider making the process of certain food products mandatory. In many countries, including India, forward-thinking food companies have started fortification voluntarily and have a good record of success. What claims is a company allowed to make to market their fortified foods Companies can state that their product is fortified or enriched with vitamins and minerals and they can indicate the levels of added micronutrients. In India, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has laid down science-based standards for articles of food and issued regulations to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import, to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. These can be viewed at http://www.fssai.gov.in/AboutFSSAI/FSSAct.aspx