Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies Worldwide
A global progress report on the world's mineral and vitamin deficiencies shows that nearly one-third of the world's population is deficient in key vitamins and minerals. The worst affected countries are Mali, Burundi, Afghanistan, Angola and Burkina Faso. The report also suggests that the lack of proper nutrition affects child mortality rates, maternal health care, poverty and physical and academic potential.
The report on Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency (VMD) - or "hidden hunger", was a collaborative effort between The Micronutrient Initiative, a Canada- based non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating vitamin and mineral deficiencies worldwide, and Unicef, a United Nations mandated advocate for the protection of children's rights. The report included individual Damage Assessment Reports in 80 developing countries.
The VMD report states that all children have a right to a healthy, prosperous life and calls for vitamin and mineral rich foods and inexpensive supplements, while urging world governments to fight diseases that prevent vitamin and mineral absorption.
Vitamins and minerals are thought to be necessary to combat weak immune systems and to increase mental capacity. It is well known that a lack of proper nutrition can cause a range of health issues, from anemia and blindness to cretinism, a condition resulting in stunted physical and mental growth.
The report shed new light on other problems that are less known, such as intellectual impairments associated with iron deficiency, iodine deficiencies during pregnancy (causing 20 million infants a year to be born mentally impaired), and a vitamin A deficiency that causes weak immune systems, resulting in 1 million deaths each year in those under five. It was also reported that one in five people are deficient in the necessary mineral zinc, and that this deficiency increases the risk of pneumonia and diarrhea, further weakening the immune system and causing more complicated health issues.
The VMD also offered some solutions to these issues, suggesting public education, disease control to raise absorption levels, food fortification, and economical supplementation for those pregnant or of child bearing age. They VMD also calls for the food industry to create, promote and dispense these economical supplements and fortified food products, while calling on governments to support the control of vitamins and minerals through legislation and education.