Why are emulsifiers put in processed foods?

Like an actor who slips easily into different characters, emulsifiers perform a host of functions in numerous foods from bread to sausages. By altering the surface properties of ingredients, they allow them to combine more easily. For example, in mayonnaise, egg yolk acts as an emulsifier.

Emulsifiers are widely used to help mix oil and water. In bakery products, they improve volume, moisture retention, uniformity and fineness of grain. They also retard staling and help condition dough. They improve the texture of pasta and inhibit clumping, of particular use when pasta is to be used in canned and frozen foods.

Emulsifiers lend stability to both dairy products and substitutes such as nondairy coffee creamers, helping to maintain starch and protein complexes in these foods. They are used to ensure proper texture in ice cream, and to keep fat (which holds the flavor) evenly dispersed in process cheese. They also prevent the cheese from "weeping."

Do vitamins provide extra energy when you are following a reducing diet?

No. Although advertising may suggest otherwise, vitamins do not provide energy. "Energy," which we refer to more commonly as calories, comes from the carbohydrate, protein, fats and alcohol we consume. To metabolize these energy nutrients, we need vitamins and minerals.

When you're following a low-calorie diet, it does make sense to take a vitamin and mineral supplement to ensure that you're getting enough of the essential nutrients. Whether you're dieting or not, however, that supplement should provide no more than 100 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowances for each of the nutrients it contains. Taking larger doses to "pep you up" is a waste of money, and sometimes harmful.