Are Fortified Foods Good for You?
Get Enough Vitamins A, C, and EVitamin A
There are two forms of this vitamin but only one that you need to worry about. Provitamin A carotenoids are in good-for-you foods like cantaloupe, carrots, spinach, and other produce. For most women, it's almost impossible to get too much, because the body uses only what it needs. Retinol is the other kind of vitamin A; it's found naturally in meat and dairy, and manufacturers add it to waffles, snack bars, low-fat yogurts, and more. You need retinol to fight infection and keep your skin and eyes healthy, but if you consume way too much, it can weaken your bones and increase the risk of birth defects if you're pregnant.
Bottom line: Keep an eye on nutrition-facts labels so you don't get more than 100 percent of your vitamin A daily, especially if you take a multivitamin. Just two whole-grain waffles with margarine, a snack bar, and a container of low-fat yogurt supplies more than 75 percent of the 2,310 international units (IU) that you need every day.Vitamin C
Vitamin C guards against infection, keeps your skin smooth and firm, and may even help you slim down. A recent study found that lower levels of C translates to a higher body mass. This may be because your body needs the vitamin to produce carnitine, a compound that helps turn fat into fuel. The good news is that this vitamin is easy to obtain from foods like oranges, strawberries, and bell peppers. Unfortunately, many of us skimp on produce, so about 15 percent of adults in the United States are vitamin C deficient. Make sure to get the recommended 75 milligrams a day.
Bottom line: It's best to get C from fruits and vegetables (your daily max is 2,000 milligrams). Watch out for foods fortified with the vitamin, including nutritionally enhanced waters and fruit-flavored drinks, which are loaded with empty calories.Vitamin E
If you watch what you eat, you may be skimping on E, because many natural sources -- high-fat nuts, seeds, and oils -- scare off dieters. But vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps keep your heart and immune system kicking. The recommended daily dosage you'll see on food labels is 30 :IU, and many foods with added E -- cereal, energy bars, and snack bars -- deliver between 20 and 100 percent of that.
Bottom line: Dig in. "Almost no one gets 100 percent of her daily value of vitamin E from her diet," Blumberg says. Foods fortified with the nutrient supply a substantial portion of your recommended daily intake without putting you at risk of exceeding the max, which is 1,500 IU.
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