What is Iron Fortification ??

Iron is an essential micronutrient that required to complete some of our body functions.

Even iron can be found in different food sources in varies quantities, iron deficiency/ iron deficiency anaemia is one of major public health problem throughout the world.

Therefore food fortification can provide good solution for these kind of situations and the effectiveness of food fortification has been evaluated in many regions in the world.

Food Fortification can be defined as addition of one/more essential nutrients to a food whether or not it is normally contained in the food, for the purpose of preventing/correcting a demonstrated deficiency of one/more nutrients in the population or specific population group. (Codex Alimentarius Commission).

Food fortification can take several forms; Targeted fortification, Mass fortification and Market-driven fortification. Targeted fortification means fortification of some foods aimed at specific subgroups of the population, thus increasing the intake of that particular group. Usually complementary foods for infants, Biscuits for school children are fortified through this method. Mass fortification means addition of one or more micronutrients to foods commonly consumed by the general public such as cereals, condiments and milk and it is regulated by government sector.

Market-driven fortification can be applied to situations whereby a food manufacturer takes a business-oriented initiative to add specific amounts of one or more micronutrients to processed foods as breakfast cereals.

This food fortification is beneficial for prevention or minimization of the risk of occurrence of micronutrient deficiency and also contribute for the correction of demonstrated micronutrient deficiency in a population or specific population groups.

Iron is the most challenging micronutrient to add to foods, because the iron compounds which have best bioavailability tend to produce undesirable organoleptic changes with food constituents. When selecting a suitable iron compound as a food fortificant, the main objective is to find the one that has the greatest absorb ability while cost is usually another important factor. A wide variety of iron compounds are currently used as food fortificants.

Some water soluble, poorly water soluble and water insoluble compounds are recommended for iron fortification. Ferrous sulfate. 7H20, Ferrous sulfate (dried), Ferrous gluconate, Ferrous lactate, Ferrous bisglycinate, Ferric ammonium citrate, Sodium iron EDTA are some of water soluble compounds and Ferrous fumarate, Ferrous succinate, Ferric saccharate usually add as poorly water soluble (soluble in dilute acid) compounds. Ferric orthophosphate, Ferric pyrophosphate, Elemental iron (H-reduced, Atomized, CO-reduced, Electrolytic, Carbonyl) are consider as water insoluble (poorly soluble in dilute acid) compounds.

As we know, iron can be found in varies food sources in varies quantities. even our whole diet that we consume per day may have considerable amount of iron to satisfy our daily iron requirement, it may not totally absorbed by our body due to the bioavailability of iron.

For example even spinach has high amount of iron, that much iron may not absorbed by the body due to their low bioavailability. Therefore if it is required to fortify some selected food with desired iron compound, it is required to consider about the bioavailability of the selected iron compound, the normal iron content of that food and the population that usually or mostly consume that food. Because the low iron absorption as well as high iron absorption also cause for ill effect. Water soluble compounds have the highest relative bioavailability because they are very soluble in gastric juices. And also shape, size and surface area of the iron particles affects bioavailability, as does the composition of food made with fortified flour. Other than the bioavailability of the selected iron compound, sensory changes and cost are also have considerable influence on the selection of iron fortificants.