The roleofvitamins inhuman nutrition is an importantaspectofnutrition and food science, and our knowledge in this area is still advancing. Over the last few years there has been a considerable consumer awareness ofnutrition and healthy eating which has been enhanced by numerous articles in the media and by nutritional labellingon products. As aconsequence, the food industry has hadtobecomemore concernedwiththenutritional valueofproductsandthemaintenanceofguaranteed micronutrient levels. While the food industry has the responsibility ofproducing foods that provide a realistic supply ofnutrients, including vitamins, it is now also required to offer products with ahigh degree ofconvenience and long shelflives. Vitamins are a group of chemical compounds which are relatively unstable. They are affected by a number of factors such as heat, light and other food components and also by the processes needed to preserve the food or to convert it into consumer products (e.g. pasteurisation, sterilisation, extrusion, irradiation, etc.). The result ofthese interactions may be a partial or total loss ofthe vitamins. Food technology is concerned with both the maintenance ofvitamin levels in foods and the restoration of the vitamin content to foods where losses have occurred. In addition, foods designed for special nutritional purposes such as baby and infantfoods and slimming foods need to be enriched or fortified with vitamins and other micronutrients. In addition to being essential nutrients, some vitamins have an important role astechnological additives infoods andcanbefound acting as colours, antioxidants and texture improvers.
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