Scientists develop new way to fortify foods with vitamin A

Fortifying foods with new polymer particles containing vitamin A could promote better vision and health for millions of people

Vitamin A deficiency is the world’s leading cause of blindness, and in severe cases, it can be fatal. About one-third of the global population of preschool-aged children suffer from this vitamin deficiency, which is most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in the US, have now developed a new way to fortify foods with vitamin A, which they hope could help to improve the health of millions of people around the world. In a new study, they showed that encapsulating vitamin A in a protective polymer prevents the nutrient from being broken down during cooking or storage.

In a small clinical trial, the researchers showed that when people ate bread fortified with encapsulated vitamin A, the bioavailability of the nutrient was similar to when they consumed vitamin A on its own. The technology has been licensed to two companies that hope to develop it for use in food products.

A benefit corporation called Particles for Humanity, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is working with partners in Africa to incorporate this technology into existing fortification efforts. Another company called VitaKey, in the US, is working on using this approach to add nutrients to a variety of foods and beverages.

Image credit- shutterstock

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