Niacin: The Most Common Nutrient
It seems strange that fast-food chains would add nutrients to our extra-value meals. Doesn't food already come with a natural supply of nutrients? Broccoli, for example, contains significant levels of many essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C, K and A. Of course, broccoli isn't generally found on a fast-food menu. In the place of fresh fruits and vegetables are scores of highly processed foods. Manufacturing these foods often has the unwanted side effect of eliminating key vitamins and minerals, which then have to be replaced in a process known as enrichment. Fortification is the companion process, which adds nutrients that may be lacking in the diet.
Wheat flour is one of the most common processed items in the world of fast food. It is used to make plain buns, sesame seed buns, corn-dusted buns and specialty buns of all shapes and sizes. The wheat flour found in all of these bread products has been enriched with several vitamins and minerals, including riboflavin, folic acid and iron. But the most commonly added nutrient is niacin, or vitamin B3. Niacin is water-soluble and constantly eliminated from the body through urine. That means you need a continuous supply of the vitamin in your diet. But you don't need to eat bread products to get your recommended daily allowance. Poultry, fish, lean meats, nuts and eggs also contain plenty of niacin.
Up next is another ingredient that enjoys widespread use in fast-food fare.