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Government now allowing vitamin D Fortified Breakfast Sugar…oops! I Meant Cereal!

Cereal

Government now allowing vitamin D Fortified Breakfast Sugar…oops! I Meant Cereal!

I am pleased to introduce my guest blogger, Renu Arora, a fellow dietitian and friend of mine. Renu specializes in heart disease, diabetes and weight management with practices in both Mississauga and Etobicoke. Today, Renu will be exploring a hot, new nutritional topic on vitamin D fortified b-fast cereal!

We’ve heard a lot about Vitamin D (aka “the sunshine vitamin”) in the news over the past few years. I myself have written on its increasing importance, and recommend that all Canadians supplement with it, especially in the winter months, as it is literally impossible for anyone to make enough of it naturally given our geography…the sun’s rays are simply not strong enough at this latitude to activate the Vitamin D in our skin.

So to hear that the government is considering relaxing its policies on the issues of fortification, I believe, is a good thing. Since the 1970s, the government has made it mandatory that milk and margarine be fortified with Vitamin D, but in order to prevent overconsumption of the nutrient, disallowed it to be added to any other foods. Rickets, a bone disease linked to Vitamin D deficiency which had once been relatively common, essentially disappeared with the introduction of this policy.

MilkSplashing “Good for You”

Now, the “sunshine vitamin” is getting more attention again and recommended intakes have increased from 400IU daily to 600IU daily as its numerous roles in the body are becoming better understood. A 50% increase in vitamin D intakes requires either that the government recommends universal supplementation, or that more foods become fortified. So what foods to fortify?

Froot Loops, apparently!

Frosted Flakes, Corn Pops, Frosted Mini Wheats, Special K and Rice Krispies were also part of the group selected for fortification by Kellogg’s, the only brand in Canada given the go ahead for this three-year trial run.

This is so many degrees of bad. For one, as University of Saskatchewan professor Susan Whiting pointed out in her interview with the Toronto Star, “It would be preferable for cereal fortification to be mandatory so all cereal-consuming Canadians would have equal access to the vitamin, not just middle and upper classes. People who are going to the food bank or the (discount) type of grocery store, you don’t have Special K, you’re buying generic cereal, so that’s who misses out.”

What’s worse, we’re being faced with a lesser-of-two-evils situation here, and the government needs to get its priorities straight. Not to mince words, but sugary cereals like Fruit Loops, Corn Pops and so on are bad for you. They truly have no redeeming features beyond the vitamins and minerals they are fortified with. Excess sugar and processed food consumption paves the way to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver, and so much more. There is NO good reason to ever buy them. But now Kellogg’s is allowed to advertise that they have Vitamin D inside, splashing “Good for You” on their packaging, and encouraging more parents to serve themselves and their children big bowls of sugar for breakfast.

Government allowing Vitamin D fortified sugar cereals!? Click To Tweet

Oy. For now, just take a supplement. A year’s supply costs less than a couple of boxes of Fruit Loops and is significantly better for you.