An important report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC)
Micronutrients are dietary components, often referred to as vitamins and minerals, which although only required by the body in small amounts, are vital to development, disease prevention, and well being. Micronutrients are not produced in the body and must be derived from the diet.
Deficiencies in micronutrients such as iron, iodine, vitamin A, folate and zinc can have devastating consequences. At least half of children worldwide ages 6 months to 5 years suffer from one or more micronutrient deficiency, and globally more than 2 billion people are affected.
The International Micronutrient Malnutrition Prevention and Control (IMMPaCt)* project, part of the CDC, focuses primarily on helping to eliminate deficiencies in iron, vitamin A, iodine, folate and zinc.
- Iron is an essential mineral critical for motor and cognitive development. Children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to the consequences of iron deficiency.
- Low hemoglobin concentration (anemia) affects 43% of children 5 years of age and 38% of pregnant women globally
- Anemia during pregnancy increases the risk of maternal and perinatal mortality and low birth weight. Maternal and neonatal deaths are a major cause of mortality, together causing between 2.5 million and 3.4 million deaths worldwide
- WHO recommends iron and folic acid supplements for reducing anemia and improving iron status among women of reproductive age.
- Flour fortification with iron and folic acid is globally recognized as one of the most effective and low-cost micronutrient interventions.
- Iodine is one of the most important minerals required by a fetus for brain and cognitive development, though the iodine content in most foods and beverages is low.
- 18 million babies are born mentally impaired because of maternal iodine deficiency and 38 million are born at risk of iodine deficiency. Globally it is estimated that 2 billion people have insufficient iodine intake.
- Fortification of salt with iodine has been one of the most successful nutrition interventions to date–71% of global households have access to iodized salt.
- Salt iodization has led to an increase in IQ points and significant decline in the prevalence of iodine deficiency disorders, such as goitres.
- Vitamin A is necessary to support healthy eyesight and immune system functions; children who are deficient face an increased risk of blindness and death from infections such as measles and diarrhea.
- Globally, 1 in 3 pre-school aged children and 1 in 6 pregnant women are vitamin A deficient due to inadequate dietary intake.
- Vitamin A supplementation of children 6-59 months has been shown to be highly effective in reducing mortality from all causes in countries where vitamin A deficiency is a public health concern.
- Zinc is a mineral that promotes immunity, resistance to infection, and proper growth and development of the nervous system, and is integral to healthy pregnancy outcomes.
- 3% of the global population is at risk for zinc deficiency due to dietary inadequacy, though up to 30% of people are at risk in some regions of the world.
- Zinc supplementation reduces the incidence of premature birth, decreases childhood diarrhea and respiratory infections, lowers all-cause mortality, and increases growth and weight gain among infants and young children.
- Folate is a vitamin that is essential in the earliest days of fetal growth for healthy development of the brain, spinal cord, and skull.
- Ensuring sufficient levels of folate in women prior to conception can reduce neural tube defects (a serious birth defect) by up to 50%
- Supplementations of women 15-49 years with folic acid, and fortification of foods such as wheat flour with folic acid, are effective interventions for the reduction of birth defects, morbidity, and mortality in newborns.
For more information, please visit: the Micronutrient Initiative at www.micronutrient.org; The Vitamin and Mineral Nutrition Information System (VMNIS) at www.who.int/vmnis and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in particular the International Micronutrient Malnutrition Prevention and Control Program (IMMPaCt) at www.cdc.gov.
**The International Micronutrient Malnutrition Prevention and Control (IMMPaCt: http://www.cdc.gov/immpact/) Program works with global partners to contribute CDC skills and resources to eliminate vitamin and mineral deficiencies (micronutrient malnutrition) among vulnerable populations throughout the world. Established by the CDC in 2000, IMMPaCt focuses primarily on helping eliminate deficiencies in iron, vitamin A, iodine, folate, and zinc. Deficiencies in micronutrients such as iron, iodine, vitamin A, folate and zinc affect nearly one-third of the world’s population, and the consequences can be devastating. By helping countries develop and operate appropriate assessment, monitoring and evaluation, systems, IMMPaCt and its global partners work to enable national governments, food industries and civic organizations to successfully implement interventions such as mass food fortification, supplementation and home fortification in order to eliminate vitamin and mineral deficiencies.