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Why Is Vitamin A Added to Milk?

Health Canada requires the mandatory fortification of skim and partially skimmed milk with vitamin A. The form added to milk is vitamin A palmitate, which is the most stable form and can be finely emulsified in milk.

The addition of vitamin A to skim and partially skimmed (1% or 2%) milk is a legal requirement under Health Canada’s Food and Drugs Act. The amounts range from 1,200 to 1,500 IU or 1,200 to 2,500 IU per 852 mL, depending on the type of milk.1

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be found in the fat portions of animals and is quite abundant in milk fat. The skimming process to obtain skim, 1% or 2% milk results in the loss of vitamin A. Therefore, vitamin A is subsequently added to replenish what was lost.

Various forms of vitamin A exist, and the one added to fortify milk is vitamin A palmitate (or retinol palmitate). The latter is the most stable form of vitamin A and can be finely emulsified in milk. It is obtained through a chemical process from industrial companies that specialize in the synthesis of vitamins. These companies synthesize vitamin A palmitate and distribute it to dairy processors.

There is no evidence that the vitamin A palmitate added to milk is associated with health risks. In fact, it helps prevent nutritional deficiencies in the Canadian diet.


  1. Canadian Food Inspection Agency. 2013. Dairy vitamin addition. Accessed December 1, 2016.

Keywords: Vitamin A

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