Jul 12, 2014, 6:45 PM
News Code: 2721041
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Plans to fortify flour vitamin D, zinc

Tehran, July 12, IRNA -- Health Ministry has started feasibility studies on fortifying flour with vitamin D and zinc, said the head of the Health Ministry's Nutrition Department.

Sunday edition of the English language newspaper Iran Daily quoted Zahra Abdollahi as saying that fortifying flour with iron and folic acid began in 2007 and is now being implemented nationwide.

All flours for making breads namely 'Lavash', 'Taftoon', and 'Barbari', are fortified with iron and folic acid.

"Since bread is the staple food of the population, we seek to add more micronutrients to it."

She said based on studies conducted across the country, people suffer from vitamin D and zinc deficiencies.

She said the plan will be implemented on a pilot basis in one of the provinces once the required funds are available and the results of quality control and tests on bread are assessed.

About 85 percent of the bakeries nationwide have eliminated soda from the bread baking process and plans are underway to do away with the use of this substance in baking bread. Micronutrients deficiency is a global problem while Iranians also face micronutrients deficiency, especially iron.

About 70 percent of Iranian families suffer from iron deficiency. Iranians from all age groups are prone to anemia, particularly the children, among whom incidence reaches 40 percent.

Iron deficiency stems from low number of red blood cells in the body, and iron-deficiency anemia develops when the body isn't getting enough iron to create new red blood cells. Once the body's iron reserve is used up, fewer red blood cells are created and this can lead to a number of symptoms, including fatigue, pale skin, general weakness, brittle nails, hair loss and headaches.

Iron deficiency-related problems and anemia burden inflict losses to the tune of millions of dollar on the national economy annually, while the cost of flour fortification is much lower than tackling the problems resulting from iron deficiency.

Preliminary results obtained from different parts of the country show that flour fortification plan had considerable impact on the family's health.

Given that bread is being enriched with vitamin D in the Persian Gulf countries, she said that Iran also should go along the same lines.

Specialized working groups are currently reviewing ways to improve the quality of bread and their suggestions will be submitted to the High Council for Health and Food Security.