In the U.S. there seems to be an overabundance of fortified foods, though a balanced diet has been shown to provide all essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. It’s also been shown that few Americans actually follow a well-balanced diet. It’s almost too easy to down a vitamin water and call it a day.

The Danish government, however, bans fortified foods, insisting its citizens are healthy enough without them and are better off avoiding toxicity. However, manufacturers can apply for approval, which is granted if the vitamin or mineral enrichment is within levels set by the law.

ANew York Times article provides a few examples:

When the law on additives took effect in 2004, Kellogg, the American cereal maker, applied for 18 products, including breakfast cereals and cereal bars, some popular for generations in the United States. All 18 were refused because they were enriched with excessive levels (by Danish standards) of iron, calcium, vitamin B or other supplements.

Kellogg abided by the law, and now sells a few products locally, like All-Bran and Special K Red Berries, which it manufactures so that supplements are within the permitted Danish levels.

The article focuses on the experience of the owners of a small Danish shop that sells imported British and South African foods. They had to take Ovaltine; a shredded wheat cereal called Shreddies; a malt drink called Horlicks; and Marmite off the shelves this past winter because of their added nutrients. For a small company, four products is a lot.

copenhagen 2 popup - More Ovaltine, please? Not in Denmark...

Photo courtesy of NY Times

However, Denmark recently began adding vitamin D to milk, and when upper limits for supplements are defined under the “harmonization” of European Union laws on vitamin and mineral supplements that will go into effect in mid-2012, some speculate there may be some changes in what stores are allowed to carry.

You can read more here.

I actually hadn’t heard about this ban on fortified foods before, but I find the stance against them very intriguing. If it goes hand-in-hand with a push to encourage people to consume more fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-dense foods, discouraging fortified products could be a good thing. However, I think there are some people who genuinely do need the added boost. For example, I know I tend to rely on the B12 added to soymilk to prevent deficiency. Iron added to oatmeal is another example. I could go on and on. What we don’t need is calcium in soda, pumped-up cookies for kids, and sugary vitamin beverages. At least in my humble opinion.

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