GMO Surprise

With questions remaining about the safety of GMO foods, many well known products are now non-GMO. And that’s a good thing. But there might be one small downside you should be aware of: the impact of non-GMO on vitamin content.

Interestingly, vitamins added to “fortified” foods are often made from food that is genetically modified. In other instances, GMO bacteria and yeast are used to produce the vitamins used to fortify food.

For example, added Vitamin E  in fortified food is often derived from GMO soy and Vitamin C from GMO corn. In contrast, “extra” Vitamin B12 added to food is commonly obtained from genetically modified bacteria.  Because these nutrients are difficult and expensive to produce conventionally, food companies often skimp on fortification, or eliminate it entirely, in non-GMO products.

You can check this out for yourself by pricing vitamin supplements-both conventional and non-GMO. The non-GMO versions are both harder to find and significantly more expensive.

Fortification has been credited with some important health outcomes: folic acid added to food has drastically reduced serious nervous system deformities in newborns, iron helps guard against anemia, and iodine prevents goiters (“non-GMO salt” may not contain iodine.)

What to do: If you avoid GMO foods (a reasonable plan until we know more) be aware that the non-GMO versions may not be extensively fortified. You can still assure adequate nutrient intake by eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruit, and consider taking a multivitamin as a nutrient insurance policy.


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