Micronutrients for Life PDF Print E-mail

Micronutrients are essential for life. Want to find out why? Read this and be amazed on the role of micronutrients in life!

What are micronutrients?

Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that all humans need to maintain strong bodies and mental sharpness, fight off disease, and bear healthy children. Micronutrients are needed by the body only in minute amounts.

Why are micronutrients important in the developing world?

Micronutrients play a life-saving role in developing countries, as well as in affecting people’s quality of life. Vitamin A, iron and iodine are the most common micronutrients that are lacking in Filipino diets. Hence, children, the pregnant and lactating women are the ones usually suffering from these deficiencies. These micronutrients have been shown to profoundly affect child survival, educational achievement, women’s health, adult productivity, and over-all resistance to illness.

Why do people lack micronutrients?

Only certain foods contain significant amounts of micronutrients. People may have enough to eat, but still do not consume enough micronutrients. Availability and accessibility of nutrient-rich foods and the dietary practices related to their preparation and consumption is an important consideration. In addition, infections and parasites can lower levels of micronutrients in the body.

How serious is the micronutrient deficiency in the Philippines?

VITAMIN A. In the 6th National Nutrition Survey of 2003 conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST), about 4 in every 10 children aged 6 months-5 years and 3 to 4 in every 10 children aged 6-12 years, are suffering from vitamin A deficiency (VAD). Using the National Statistics Office (NSO) population projections, there are 5 million children 6 months to 5 years who are at risk to infectious diseases, xeropthalmia, and night-blindness. Among pregnant women, the prevalence of VAD is 17.5 percent and 20 percent among lactating women.

IRON. In the same survey, anemia affects 32 percent of children aged 6 months to 5 years old and 37.4 percent among 6-12 years old. Using the NSO population projections, there are 4 million young children 6 months to 5 years who are at increased risk to decreased physical development, long-term cognitive impairment and poor growth. Among pregnant women and lactating women the prevalence is 43.9 percent and 42.2 percent, respectively. 

IODINE. The median urinary iodine excretion (UIE) among children aged 6-12 years is 201 micrograms per liter (µg/L). Corresponding to population iodine intake that is “more than adequate,” eleven percent of the children have UIE less than 50 micrograms per liter. There are one and a half million children aged 6-12 years who are at risk of mental retardation.  

How do micronutrient programs support social and economic development?

When people are well-nourished, healthy, and productive, they can take better advantage of education, health, and economic opportunities. A well-designed micronutrient program, therefore, contributes to social and economic development.

Government officials in developing countries may hesitate to invest in programs addressing poverty-related malnutrition because of their belief that only the alleviation of poverty will result, automatically, in a reduction of malnutrition. Experience suggests, however, that the alleviation of poverty is many years away in much of the developing world. Despite persisting poverty, enormous strides can be made towards eliminating malnutrition through well-targeted public health interventions. Experience also suggests micronutrient programs can be an attractive first step toward developing the confidence of government officials that advancement in curbing malnutrition can be made even in the presence of poverty.

How do these programs deliver micronutrients?

For immediate impact, micronutrient supplements are effective in preventing and treating deficiencies. Two food-based strategies – diversifying diets and fortification of certain commonly consumed foods – increase the amount of micronutrients that people get each day. The use of the food guide pyramid will help ease diversifying foods in each meal. A mix of supplementation and fortification can dramatically improve health for less than a peso per person per year and reduce the costs of illness to families, communities, and the nation.

The Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology, has been very active in supporting the Government’s agenda in eliminating micronutrient malnutrition of Filipinos. Today, FNRI-DOST marks A TRIUMPHANT 60th YEAR OF DEDICATION AND PERSEVERANCE IN BUILDING A HEALTHY NATION.

 

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  Updated  November 2014
 
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