Adding nutrients

One example of a clearly beneficial food additive is vitamin D, which is added to virtually all milk sold in the United States. Most bread and grain products are fortified with added B vitamins, plus iron and other essential minerals to replace what's lost when whole grains are milled into white flour for white bread. Some people say that we'd be better off simply sticking to whole grains. But adding vitamins and minerals to white flours enhances a product that many people just plain like better. Another example of a nutrient used as a food additive is the calcium found in some commercially prepared orange juices.

Some nutrients also are useful preservatives. For example, vitamin C is an antioxidant that slows food spoilage and prevents destructive chemical reactions. Manufacturers must add a form of vitamin C (isoascorbic acid) to bacon to prevent the formation of potentially cancer-causing compounds.

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