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Fortified milk: Functional foods

The concept of functional food in Japan was born in the 80′s because of the need for health authorities to ensure a better quality of life through food. They are considered those with biologically active compounds, minerals, vitamins, fiber, fatty acids and have a beneficial effect on health.

The main feature of these products is that most notable nutrients are added artificially. There are a variety of these items today: juices, dairy products (milk, smoothies, and yoghurt), cereals, energy bars and even eggs and meat.

We will address the issue of fortified milk as it is one of the products for which more work has been done. The most common kinds are those with added minerals like calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, but there are also those enriched in vitamins of all types, fatty acids from fish or dietary fiber.

The frantic pace of modern life

The frantic pace of modern life

The frantic pace of modern life

Humans have always satisfied their nutritional needs with food that nature offered in each season. Why it isn’t the case today? Something has changed the pace of modern life which becomes increasingly stressful and leaves little time to worry about diet and cooking.

The mealtime becomes a process used to meet the basic needs of food but without giving due importance to the products ingested and their properties and effects on our body. The role of the lunch is just ‘to suppress hunger’.

After a time that lifestyle affects our health one way or another. Among other problems often there is weight gain, lack of vitamins and minerals, with consequences that are varied depending on the nutrient deficit. And this is where fortified products come into play, since, taking the amount you usually eat a particular product; you get more nutrients because they are added to naturally occurring elements.

Recommendations for use

Recommendations for use

Recommendations for use

At first glance fortified products seem to be a good way to alleviate the shortage of time, but the effectiveness of these new foods is under severe strain.

It is very common to find skim milk enriched with vitamins A, D and E. These, being soluble, are dissolved in milk fat and, if the cream (whipping cream) is removed, the vitamins also disappear. Such milks are recommended for people who follow strict dieting or have cardiovascular problems, and, of necessity, have to remove fat from their diet.

But we must also be careful not to overdo the dose of these vitamins, because, being soluble, they are stored in body fat and its elimination is difficult and slow. There is thus the possibility of excessive consumption and even intoxication.

Rich in minerals and fatty acids

Rich in minerals and fatty acids

Rich in minerals and fatty acids

Contributions of calcium are usually accompanied by phosphorus and magnesium to facilitate the absorption of calcium by bones. The effectiveness of these milks is questionable since the ratio between calcium intake and its absorption is inversely proportional, ie increase in consumption decreases the absorption and vice versa.

Therefore it is useless to increase the dose of calcium at once. Ideally, to achieve optimum assimilation is to make more servings, spread throughout the day, for example, including a glass of milk in each meal. Subject matter experts warn that milk is an item that already has enough calcium alone. ‘It’s like adding water to water,’ they say.

It is common to find milk with omega fatty acids with fish oil added. They are particularly suitable for people with cardiovascular disease or cancer. Though its effectiveness has not been confirmed yet.

Some recommendations

Some recommendations

Some recommendations

In countries where this type of milk consumed the population can access all kinds of food full of natural nutrients, because the economic level is higher. Therefore, it is not difficult to eat a diet with all necessary inputs if you have a basic understanding of nutrition. The best solution is to see a specialist or to use books or Internet, always visiting and contrasting information from reliable sources.

There are books specially adapted to the people that respond to common questions and offer menus for various diseases. It can even be helpful to check the status of our body and know what aspects work better. Keep in mind that the more natural, varied and less processed foods are the lower the risk of nutrient deficiencies and overdoses.

Enriched milk is useful in specific cases. It will be helpful for persons with allergy to one or more items and have difficulty finding any nutrients in other ways. In the same way it is served to those who ration themselves in certain foods because of a serious illness.

A case in which fortified milk can do a great job is that of developing countries, where a shortage of good food and its low quality impede to get nutrients naturally. In some places, for example, infants are anemic due to poor iron content of breast milk. Obviously it would be much better than they could work on improving the quality of food available, but probably it is less profitable for the participating companies.

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