Fortification is the addition of key vitamins and minerals such as iron, iodine, zinc, Vitamin A & D to staple foods such as rice, milk and salt to improve their nutritional content. These nutrients may or may not have been originally present in the food before processing.
70% of people in India do not consume enough micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. About 70 percent of pre-school children suffer from anaemia caused by Iron Deficiency and 57 percent of preschool children have sub–clinical Vitamin A deficiency. Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) are the most common congenital malformation with an incidence that varies between 0.5-8/1000 births. It is estimated that 50-70% of these birth defects are preventable. One of the major causes is deficiency of Folic Acid.
Thus, deficiency of micronutrients or micronutrient malnutrition, also known as “hidden hunger”, is a serious health risk. Unfortunately, those who are economically disadvantaged do not have access to safe and nutritious food. Others either do not consume a balanced diet or lack variety in the diet because of which they do not get adequate micronutrients. Often, there is considerable loss of nutrients during the processing of food. One of the strategies to address this problem is fortification of food. This method complements other ways to improve nutrition such as such as diversification of diet and supplementation of food.