Fortifying Wheat with Lysine to Promote Healthy Growth in Children
Across the globe some 800 million people today suffer from chronic malnourishment including an estimated 200 million children who are protein and energy deficient. Malnourishment is particularly severe in underdeveloped areas of Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. The situation will only become more severe if the global population keeps increasing.
Grains are eaten as a staple food in many diets and are an important source of carbohydrates and protein for energy. However, diets that depend on wheat and other grains for most of their protein lack certain essential amino acids such as lysine. This lack of essential amino acids prevents the body from fully utilizing the nutrients in protein. This is because the body's use of protein is limited by the least present amino acid.
Protein deficiency can lead to conditions such as stunted growth, lowered immunity and lethargy. It is particularly problematic for growing children.
Kagawa Nutrition University, Standard Tables of Food Composition in Japan, Fifth Revised and Enlarged Edition (2008)
To address malnutrition in children Ajinomoto Group is working with the United Nations University and other partners to fortify wheat with lysine in developing countries. Children who eat lysine-fortified wheat have shown significant improvements in growth compared with children who eat regular non-fortified wheat as well as stronger immunity.
Zhao et al., Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 25, 123-129 (2004)
Nutrition and health improvement are major issues in developing countries. By fortifying wheat with amino acids many more nutrients and proteins can be absorbed from the same amount of wheat. Fortifying with amino acids is one way to achieve food security and ensures that available grain resources are used as effectively as possible.