e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Vitamin A fortification of staple foods

Vitamin A is important for visual health, immune function and fetal growth and development. Vitamin A deficiency is a public health problem in many parts of the world, particularly Africa and South-East Asia. It can cause visual impairment in the form of night blindness and, in children, may increase the risk of illness and death from childhood infections, including measles and those causing diarrhoea.

Fortification is the practice of deliberately increasing the content of an essential micronutrient, i.e. vitamins and minerals (including trace elements) in a food, so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health.

Fortification of staple foods with vitamin A may be a cost-effective intervention for reducing vitamin A deficiency, especially in settings where improving dietary quality through food variety is not possible. Foods such as edible oils and fats, cereal grains, condiments, refined sugar and milk have been successfully fortified with vitamin A and studies have shown that consumption of vitamin A-fortified foods can improve vitamin A status.

Current research is aimed at further assessing the benefits and harms of fortifying staple foods on vitamin A status and health-related outcomes in the general population.

WHO recommendations

Further research is needed before specific recommendations can be made.

WHO documents


GRC-approved guidelines

Status: not currently available

Other guidance documents

Evidence


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Last update:

23 October 2014 12:38 CEST

Category 3 intervention

Available evidence is limited and systematic reviews have not yet been conducted