The Risks and Benefits of Food Fortifiers & Additives (a GC™ Guide)

Updated: Mar 29

Here is a list of 3 very common harmful food additives to watch out for, along with 3 well-known healthy food fortifiers that will help you improve your overall health.

There is an overarching belief that all food additives are harmful. And to be fair, when it comes to processed foods in particular, the research done on additives and their side effects overwhelmingly supports that assertion. However, people often fail to realize that many food additives are actually healthy. Consider times when you skimmed through food labels and noticed the phrase, “added vitamins and minerals.” In many cases, these are substances that are actually notably beneficial to our bodies.

When vitamin D is added to orange juice, or iron to bananas, it is called a fortifying ingredient. Fortification is the process of adding minerals and vitamins to foods in order to prevent nutritional deficiencies.

It is important to understand the difference between harmful food additives and healthy food fortifiers in order to make smart food choices. Here is a list of 3 very common additives to watch out for, along with 3 well-known fortifiers that will help you improve your overall health.

Harmful Food Additives

High Fructose Corn Syrups

High fructose corn syrup--a sweetener made in part by breaking down the long chains of carbohydrates in corn--is commonly used in processed foods. It is chemically similar to table sugar because it is  made up of almost half-and-half glucose and fructose. Though no scientific evidence has directly linked high fructose corn syrup as a cause of obesity or diabetes, it does contribute heavily to the amount of calories that Americans consume while providing almost no nutritional value. High fructose corn syrup is unwarrantedly present in a lot of our foods. It is found in foods ranging from pizza, to granola bars, and from juice to microwaveable dinners; high fructose corn syrup is everywhere. In order to remain healthy and fit, we should strive to limit our consumption of it.

Food Dyes

Food dyes, most notably prominent in Blue #1 and 2, Red #40, and Yellow #6--are also found in a variety of foods, such as fruit juice and salad dressing. These toxic additives have been found in multiple studies to cause hyperactivity in children, and the dye known as Red #40 may even accelerate the appearance of immune system tumors in mice, raising safety concerns for people as well. Food dye is typically found in kids’ snacks, cereals, and drinks since it provides vibrant colors and makes food items more appealing and fun. So be sure to keep an eye out for them when shopping for children!

Trans Fat

Trans fat is formed by hydrogenation, the process of adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils in order to make them more solid. Trans fat is a well-known, undeniable health hazard. It has been proven to lower levels of HDL (good cholesterol) while raising LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. It also increases the risk of diabetes, strokes, heart attacks and other fatal illnesses. Trans fat is most prevalent in U.S. fast foods and processed foods like burgers, chips, doughnuts and even popcorn. Knowing this, it’s important to follow a well-balanced diet to make sure you are staying away from pesky trans fats that you may not even be aware of.

Healthy Food Fortifiers


Calcium is one of the most prevalent minerals in the body. It is necessary for bone and cardiovascular health, as well as muscle and nerve function. Calcium also plays a significant role in maintaining normal blood pressure, regulating clotting, and preventing cancer. It can be found in most dairy products such as yogurt and milk, and other foods such as kale, mustard greens, canned salmon, and even molasses. Calcium is a key ingredient when it comes to upholding good health. So whether you consume it through food or supplements, making sure to incorporate it into your diet is essential. Calcium deficiencies can result in skeletal malformations, mental confusion, or even digestive issues such as diarrhea or cramps. However, ingesting too much calcium (this happens more often when one is taking dietary supplements), can lead to constipation and severe gas. Receiving an appropriate amount of calcium will decrease your chances of dealing with any of these issues.


Zinc is known as an essential trace element. That means that in very small amounts, it is essential for many physiological and biochemical processes that take place within our bodies. Zinc promotes successful hormone production, improves the overall immune system, and helps to facilitate digestion. It is an anti-inflammatory agent meaning that it may also be vital for fending off chronic heart disease and cancer. It is often available in the supplements aisle and  present in food with high protein counts, such as meats and fish, and also grains and legumes. Zinc deficiency is known to lead to hair loss, poor memory, fatigue, and even changes in appetite. Zinc is definitely a fortifier that you want to include in your diet.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in protecting our central nervous system. It works to maintain healthy nerve cells and assists in forming the protective covering around nerves known as the cell’s myelin sheath. It is essential in maintaining a healthy hormonal balance and can also help in battling adrenal fatigue and depression. In fact, Vitamin B12 keeps you looking great: supporting hair and nail growth, as well as healthy skin. Vitamin B12 is commonly found in animal products such as pasture-raised eggs, grass-fed and organic meats, as well as wild-caught fish. Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to joint pain, muscle weakness, and an inability to concentrate. In order to have strong, high-energy days, it is highly encouraged that you get your daily dose of Vitamin B12.


If you want to easily discern between products that contain harmful food additives and those that contain healthy food fortifiers - download the free GreenChoice app.

GCNow™ Writer: Makalani Mack


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