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How nutraceuticals are helping in food fortification
Monday, 31 January, 2022, 13 : 00 PM [IST]
Kamayani Naresh
Food fortification is when nutrients are added to enhance the quality and health benefits the food group provides in its natural state. These nutrients are mainly added as tiny amounts of micronutrients during the food processing stage. Fortifying food ensures the food group offers those who eat it better levels of vitamins and minerals.

Food fortification is said to be a cost-effective way nations can help combat nutrient deficiencies. Although it is commonly known to be a way over-processed foods are returned to their natural nutrient values, food fortification can help countries across the globe overcome starvation and hidden hunger.
Nutraceuticals, on the other hand, are ingredients in our daily diet that have medicinal properties. Derived by combining two terms, nutrient and pharmaceutical, nutraceuticals can be essential to include in our diets due to the extra benefits to our health. Nutraceuticals are proven to help our immunity levels and encourage our bodies to fight diseases. The core of nutraceuticals is 'let food be your medicine.'
Food fortification can help millions of people across the globe reach their nutrient requirements daily. The most common deficiencies around the world are in iron, vitamin A and iodine. Most commonly seen in children and pregnant women, these deficiencies are referred to as hidden hunger. Since regular food does not let them reach the proper vitamins and minerals, they need to grow and develop.

Most of the ailments troubling humans across the globe are not diseases but disorders caused due to deficiency of some element. Thus, food fortification can be seen as a cost-efficient method to improve the population’s health and well-being instead leaving no option for the masses except to adapt the system which does not cure any ailment and adds on another ailment as side effect beside being exorbitantly costly.

Nutraceuticals are naturally found micronutrients that help enhance the nutrient levels in the food we consume daily. Therefore, simply ensuring people include certain ingredients in their daily diets can help them get the nutrients they need to consume a healthier, nutrient-rich diet.

Micronutrients consumed by a country's population, along with their daily pulses, rice, milk and salt, can help the whole population overcome deficiencies and maybe even eradicate certain disorders while fighting and overcoming hidden hunger in many countries. These micronutrients can be included in their diets through food fortifications or simply including nutraceuticals in their diets.
Studies have shown that if someone includes nutraceuticals of fortified foods in their diets earlier in their lives, they have been found to be physically strong and well developed body besides maintaining good health, strong immunity to fight any infection.

Changing the way people eat and ensuring they include fortified foods or nutrition  rich foods in their diets is one way to ensure the population stays healthy. It has been observed that being health and diet conscious results in hospitalisation and reduction in medical bills. Promote and preventive care can significantly reduce ailments and thus reduce the burden on the medical fraternity.

Thus treating nutraceuticals as critical as fortified food, countries can help their population access better nutrients. Moreover, since they can include a whole range of vitamins, minerals and macronutrients, the general wellbeing and health of the population can show a long term solution to malnourishment. Moreover, the fact that nutraceuticals can be easily purchased over the counter and even have affordable counterparts makes it easier and more cost-effective for Governments to ensure their populations stay healthier than before.

Many nutraceuticals can be found in ingredients used in almost every Indian kitchen, like pulses, seeds, energy drinks, immunity boosters and many more. Thus, making it even easier for the general public to get access to nutrient-dense foods that help them overcome the shortcomings of over-processed ingredients and food.

Thus, Governments need to treat fortified foods and nutraceuticals with the same level of importance in the general public's diet. This can help countries fight malnourishment and hidden hunger at a low cost and ensure the results last over a long duration. Moreover, it can help completely eradicate diseases and infections caused due to a lack of proper nourishment in some cases. Government must bring down the taxation on nutraceuticals so that it becomes affordable by masses.

(The author is founder of Zyropathy)
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