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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


The Synergies of Adequate Nutrition

By Michael McBurney

This blog shares information on the benefits of nutrients. The approach is to identify a new study linking a nutrient (vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids) with a health outcome (bone health, cognition, etc) and putting the study into perspective relative to the totality of the literature. The blogs tend to be nutrient-specific.

Today’s blog emphasizes the reality that health is often the consequence of overall nutrition, not the intake of a single nutrient.  Rousham and colleagues report on the impact of a school-based iron intervention in children (5-17y) in north-west Pakistan. The children received either: 1) once-weekly iron supplements (200 mg ferrous sulfate with 63mg elemental iron) for 24wk, 2) twice-weekly supplements for 12 wk, or 3) no tablets. Hemoglobin concentrations were measured. Iron supplementation did not significantly increase hemoglobin concentrations. There could be several reasons: low prevalence of anemia at baseline, choice of hemoglobin as the biomarker of iron status, seasonal changes in iron intake, or other micronutrient deficiencies.

Other micronutrient deficiencies are a real possibility. Chen and colleagues reported that 6 months of dual supplementation of vitamin A and iron was most effective in reducing infectious morbidity in 3-6y children living in China. As written by Dr Klaus Kraemer in the Sight and Life magazine, it is time we stop working in silos. We need to use our ‘best innovative thinking to ensure that the universal right to all – that to adequate food, which includes adequate nutrition – is accessible to all’.


Rousham EK, Uzaman B, Abbott D, Lee SF, Mithani S, Roschnik N, Hall A. The effect of school-based iron intervention on the haemoglobin concentration of school children in north-west Pakistan. 2013 Eur J Clin Nutr doi:10.1038/ejcn.2013.160

Chen K, Chen X-R, Zhang L, Luo H-Y, Gao N, Wang J, Fu G-Y, Mao M. Effect of simultaneous supplementation of vitamin A and iron on diarrheal and respiratory tract infection in preschool children in Chengdu City, China. 2013 Nutr 29:1197-1203