On Nutrition: When it comes to medication, what counts as an empty stomach? | Lifestyles


Dear RQ: Vitamin D works with calcium through its role in stimulating the production of a calcium binding protein. Once a food containing calcium is eaten, digested and in solution in the small intestine, it must combine with this binding protein to be escorted through the intestinal wall. Vitamin D does not need to be in the stomach along with calcium, but the body does need to be supplied with enough vitamin D for the process to work effectively.

To answer your larger question: “fortification” adds nutrients to foods that have been lost during processing. Flour is a good example of a fortified food. If a food is fortified, the label must say so, and to be valid, it must provide at least 10% of the daily value of the nutrient.

“Fortification” involves adding nutrients that are not normally found in that food. This public health policy was initiated in the 1920s after data revealed that certain nutrients were chronically deficient in various population groups. The foods chosen for fortification were the staple foods found in most diets, including grains and dairy products.

Table salt was the first fortified food: iodine was added to prevent iodine deficiency goiter in midwestern school children. Vitamin D, and later vitamin A, were added to dairy products because these widely consumed foods were considered ideal vehicles. We now find additional examples including vitamin D, calcium and other nutrients added to non-dairy milk substitutes, and omega-3 fatty acids added to some eggs.


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