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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Adequate Vitamin Status Matters, Especially for Kids

By Michael McBurney

Have you ever heard or read that ‘using dietary supplements’ is like flushing money down the toilet? Or that it may even increase risk of cancer? Sensational headlines and polarizing opinions may drive readership but science is based on the totality of the evidence.

Nutrition Journal paper published yesterday emphasizes the importance of an adequate micronutrient status. Mehta and colleagues studied 8 weeks of multivitamin supplementation in Tanzanian children with tuberculosis. Within 8 weeks, children receiving supplementation raised hemoglobin levels and stimulated growth (height) although weight gain did not differ.

Micronutrient supplementation improves physical performance measures in Asian Indian school-age children. Almost 1200 children between 7-10.5 years were screened for a randomized-control trial (RCT) with 3 treatments. The 4 month intervention with multiple micronutrients significantly improved endurance and aerobic capacity of the children.

WHO estimates 190 million preschool infants and children are affected by vitamin A deficiency and 293 million have anemia. WHO recommends the use of micronutrient powders containing at least vitamin A, iron and zinc for home fortification.

A lack of nutrient-rich foods has lifelong effects and increases risk of non-communicable diseases. Ideally, children should receive their nutrients from the foods they eat. However, if they do not, parents and children are willing to use micronutrient powders or dietary supplements. They should not be judged for adopting approaches which guarantee better nourishment. Together, we need a commitment worldwide to find solutions and resources to solve malnutrition.