The effect of consuming voluntarily fortified food and beverages on usual nutrient intakes in the Canadian population

  • Valerie Tarasuk Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  • Didier Brassard Centre Nutrition, santé et société (NUTRISS), Institut sur la nutrition et les aliments fonctionnels (INAF), Université Laval, Québec, Canada
Keywords: voluntary fortification, dietary assessment, usual intakes, National Cancer Institute Method, Canada


Background: In Canada, regulatory changes have expanded marketing opportunities for voluntarily fortified products (VFPs), with micronutrient additions permitted at levels well in excess of human requirements.

Objective: To examine how the consumption of VFPs relates to usual nutrient intakes in the Canadian population.

Design: The 2015 Canadian Community Health Survey comprises single 24-h dietary intake recalls on a population-representative sample of 20,487 individuals aged 1 year and older, with second recalls on a subset of 7,608. The intake data included 15 food codes denoting VFP (e.g. energy drinks, fortified beverages, cereals, and bars). We assessed VFP consumption and estimated usual intake distributions for riboflavin, niacin, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, B12, and C for VFP consumers and non-consumers 14–50 years old (n = 8,442) using the National Cancer Institute method. We applied the ‘shrink and add’ method to estimate usual intakes among supplement users and assessed apparent benefits and risks by comparing usual intake distributions to EARs and ULs.

Results: Only 2.4% of the population reported any consumption of VFP on the first 24-h recall. VFP consumers were overrepresented in the upper quartile of population intake distributions for niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and zinc. The median usual intakes of VFP consumers were 24–111% higher than the median usual intakes of non-consumers, and VFP consumers had significantly lower prevalence of inadequacy for riboflavin and vitamins A, B6, B12, and C. Irrespective of VFP consumption, usual intake distributions reached the ULs for vitamin A and zinc with the addition of supplement intakes.

Discussion: Given the limited differentiation of VFP in this survey, we have likely underestimated nutrient exposure levels.

Conclusions: VFP consumption was associated with elevated usual nutrient intakes, but we found limited evidence that it protected consumers from nutrient inadequacies or propelled intakes above tolerable upper levels.


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How to Cite
Tarasuk, V., & Brassard, D. (2021). The effect of consuming voluntarily fortified food and beverages on usual nutrient intakes in the Canadian population. Food & Nutrition Research, 65.
Original Articles