Vitamin D brings focus to views of bread

Two events that should have drawn extraordinary positive attention to wheat-based foods — the 10 year anniversary of folic acid fortification and the 70th anniversary of flour enrichment — happened without generating the excitement deserved, especially given the prevailing ripe environment of never ending public discussion about what constitutes healthful eating.

This point is worth considering when looking at two developments this week — the approval by the Food and Drug Administration of bakers yeast with higher levels of vitamin D and a paper published by Glenn Gaesser questioning the healthfulness of gluten-free dieting for the general population.

Given the degree to which the wonders of folic acid and the enrichment of grains are ignored, it seems clear that the potential power of adding vitamin D to baked foods will never be fully appreciated unless there is resolution in the public’s mind about healthfulness of the macronutrients at the core of wheat-based foods. Dr. Gaesser’s paper calls for additional research to “clarify the health effects of gluten and potential consequences of avoiding gluten-containing grains.”

For better or worse, conducting this research is crucial both for public health and for the future of wheat-based foods.