What Are Mi­cronu­tri­ents?

Consumer Voice - - Food Fortification -

Mi­cronu­tri­ents are vi­ta­mins and min­er­als re­quired in small amounts that are es­sen­tial to our health, de­vel­op­ment and growth. Proper in­take of vi­ta­mins and min­er­als can mean the dif­fer­ence be­tween a healthy, pro­duc­tive life, and a life fraught with ill­ness. Mi­cronu­tri­ent de­fi­cien­cies are the lead­ing cause of men­tal re­tar­da­tion, pre­ventable blind­ness, and death dur­ing child­birth. A lack of th­ese im­por­tant vi­ta­mins and min­er­als also has a pro­found im­pact on the body’s im­mune sys­tem. Be­yond the enor­mous health im­pli­ca­tions, mi­cronu­tri­ent mal­nu­tri­tion has a sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic im­pact.

min­er­als due to lack of vari­a­tion and/or consumption of pre­dom­i­nantly pro­cessed foods. Since most pop­u­la­tions in re­source-poor set­tings do not have ac­cess to ad­e­quate quan­ti­ties of fruits, veg­eta­bles and meats, where mi­cronu­tri­ents are abun­dant, they are vul­ner­a­ble to long-term health prob­lems and raise so­ci­etal and pub­lic health­care costs and po­ten­tially de­press the coun­try’s pro­duc­tiv­ity.

Con­sid­er­ing that pro­vid­ing vi­ta­min sup­ple­ments or tablets poses lo­gis­ti­cal and eco­nomic con­straints in such re­source-poor set­tings, food for­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­vides a prac­ti­cal and in­ex­pen­sive al­ter­na­tive.

Diseases such as goitre, rick­ets, beriberi and pel­la­gra were once com­mon health prob­lems in the early 20th cen­tury. To­day, th­ese diseases are rarely seen due to a se­ries of food-for­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­grammes that have helped stave off a mul­ti­tude of nu­tri­ent de­fi­cien­cies. Ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion and the Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion of the United Na­tions, food for­ti­fi­ca­tion is the prac­tice of de­lib­er­ately in­creas­ing con­tent of an es­sen­tial mi­cronu­tri­ent in a food, so as to im­prove the nu­tri­tional qual­ity of the food sup­ply and pro­vide a pub­lic health ben­e­fit with min­i­mal risk to health.

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