What Are Micronutrients?
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.