Micronutrient deficiency (MND) translates to the lack of important minerals and vitamins in small amounts for adequate growth and development of the human body.
Most common micronutrient deficiency worldwide entails:
– Vitamin A
– Folic Acid
A problem, usually related with the cause-effect of malnutrition, MND is a huge part of the glut of diseases which categorises under the global burden of disease. Through a rising rate of illnesses such as mental impairment and even mortality, majority of MNDs are ubiquitous in economically less-advanced countries and with symptoms causing a reduction in immune systems, would be a likely cause of widespread disease and death.
With MNDs of any form being able to result in severe health problems, there are several of them which are especially lethal.
? Major reason that contributes to high rates of death & disease amongst infants, children and mothers in developing countries
? Deficit in Vitamin A, iron, iodine and zinc intensify the burden of disease resulting in multiple health implications
? Severe cases result in death during childbirth, mental illness, lower educational fulfilment, lowered work capacity
? Vicious cycle goes beyond a single generation with far-reaching consequences on generations to come
? Emphasis upon the actions to be taken to tackle the issue of MND and delay/manage it from going beyond a global epidemic
Many reasons contribute to the rampant spread of MND. The most rudimentary however, is directed at poverty. Low or middle-income settings of the world are unable to obtain basic nutrition owing to a lack of finances and education in terms of health and wellness. Coupled with infectious disease and a poorly sanitized environment, the unavailability of adequate health service, contributes wholly to the rise in MNDs. Furthermore, poorer countries face another tricky situation in terms of the privilege of obtaining a greater amount of food. Being reasonably less wealthy, problems in obtaining what is required often surface, leaving them with very little say in deciding what is necessary for their populace.
Box 1. Impact of Common Deficiencies
Outcomes of micronutrient deficiency can be devastating and according to Micronutrient Initiative, Vitamin C, Thiamine and Niacin should also be considered as a global health concern due to the prevalence in nature of the symptoms the lack of these vitamins/minerals cause.
Top source of blindness worldwide and inhibits cell immunity and differentiation. Almost 800,000 deaths among women & children globally and 20% of deaths at childbirth, are attributed to the lack of this vitamin.
Ranked as the most common MND worldwide, leading to microcytic anaemia. Without medical assistance, it can result in damage to internal organs and impaired immune & endocrine functions. Responsible for 18.4% of total maternal deaths and 23.5% of perinatal deaths all around the world.
Effects range from mental retardation and or cognitive function, goitre and still born children. 28.5% is the approximate percentage of people globally who are iodine deficient.
Sufficient zinc is key for ideal immune system functions. This deficiency is related to an increased occurrence in diarrhoea and serious respiratory infections. A big cause of death to those younger than 5 years old, it is estimated that the global prevalence of zinc deficiency is 31%.
Foliate is an indispensable necessity for DNA synthesis. Deficiency causes macrocytic anaemia and neural tube imperfections.
? With the comorbidity of protein-energy malnutrition and MND, it is undoubtedly a serious health burden, with the prominence upon developing countries. Mediations in preventing protein–energy malnutrition range from promoting breast-feeding to food supplementation arrangements, whereas micronutrient deficiency would best be acknowledged via food-based plans such as dietary variation through crop harvests or livestock. Enrichment of salt with iodine has been a global hit, but other micronutrient supplementation arrangements have yet to reach exposed populations.
MND continues to pose a threat as a serious health problem throughout the developing world, particularly in southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Diets in populations there often lack macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat), micronutrients (electrolytes, minerals and vitamins) or both.
? Common incidence of microbial and parasitic infections in developing countries account significantly for malnutrition. In addition, this increases susceptibility to disease and hence, is a major cause of illness and death. Malnutrition consequently is the most crucial risk factor accounting as the burden of disease in developing countries. It is the direct root of approximately 300,000 deaths per annum and is indirectly responsible for around half of all fatalities in young children.
Poverty is the fundamental reason of malnutrition and its elements. The degree and dispersal of protein–energy malnutrition and MND in a fixed population depends on numerous conditions: A sovereign state’s political and economic situation, level of education and sanitation, seasonal and climatic settings, food productivity, cultural and religious food customs, breast-feeding habits, pervasiveness of infectious diseases and the availability ; class of health services.
? Worldwide, an estimate of 852 million people was malnourished in 2000–2002, with most (815 million) living in developing countries. The comprehensive number of incidents has not improved by much over the last decade.
? For children, protein–energy malnutrition is demarcated by quantities that drop below 2 SD below the average weight for age (underweight), stunted growth and weight for height (wasting). Wasting points to recent weight loss, whereas stunting, normally results from prolonged weight loss.
? Protein–energy malnutrition usually shows quite early, in children between 6 months and 2 years of age and is linked with delayed introduction of complementary nutritional intake, a low-protein diet and serious or recurrent infections.