Processing foods strips them of their natural vitamins and minerals. Many Americans eat a diet high in processed foods leaving them depleted of their essential nutrients. In addition, our soil has fewer nutrients, which causes our food to have decreased vitamins and mineral content. With lower amounts of nutrients in the Standard American Diet (SAD diet), people have been turning to vitamins to replenish their nutrients stores and the government has been turning to fortifying food with synthetic vitamins to help. It is important to understand where these vitamins come from to understand if they are truly healthy.
Vitamin making takes a huge toll on the environment. Although making the vitamins is quick, there are many solvents and waste products involved. Since there are stricter laws in the United States about pollution, many of the vitamin manufacturing companies are outside the United States including China and India.
As certain diseases became more common throughout the years, the FDA mandated certain foods have vitamins added to decrease common deficiencies. Since flour was and is the most commonly eaten food in America, it was chosen as the perfect food to add these vitamins to. These vitamins include B vitamins Niacin, Thiamin Monitrate (B1), Riboflavin (B2), and Folic Acid and the mineral Iron in form of Ferrous Sulfate.
Below describes how Ferrous Sulfate and Niacin are created.
Sulfate comes from sulfur which is no longer mined, but taken from high sulfur crude oil. The sulfur is removed as a gas and liquefied and sent to sulfuric acid manufacturers. The sulfur is then changed into sulfur dioxide and then passes through vanadium catalysts and mixed with water to create sulfuric acid. Sulfuric acid is the most produced chemical in the world.
Iron ore is baked and then goes through several reactions to then be squeezed into sheets of steel. The steel goes through a process called pickling where sulfuric acid is dripped on the steel. The acid is then filled with iron and iron sulfate crystals are formed. Theses crystals are separated from the rest of the liquid and used as vitamins and for other mainly nutrition needs.
Niacin is created from water, air and petroleum. The petroleum is harvested from the Middle East? North Sea. The first step is to “crack” the petroleum by pressure cooking it with extreme heat and pressure. The result is a mixture of methane, ethylene, and hydrogen. Next, air is liquefied and separated into nitrogen and oxygen. The nitrogen is mixed with hydrogen under more high heat and pressure to make ammonia. This is then mixed with oxygen to make nitric acid. Nitric acid is mixed with etheyene and acetylene are pressure mixed with a platinum catalyst which creates acetaldehyde. The ammonia and acetaldehyde are mixed with nitric acid which results in a white powder, which is niacin.
As you can see, these vitamins are not created from fruits and vegetables as you may expect. They are not created easily or from natural sources and take a toll on the environment. With all the processing that takes place to make these vitamins, the question remains- are they truly healthy for us?
Ettlinger, Steve. “Twinkie, Deconstructed.” 2007. Penguin Group. London.