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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Hidden Hunger has Huge Personal and Economic Consequences

By Michael McBurney

Dr Klaus Kraemer, Director of Sight and Life, writes of hidden hunger – when people have an adequate supply of energy from the food they eat but the nutritional value is insufficient to support optimal growth and development. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) observed that dietary patterns of Americans are suboptimal and casually related to poor individual and population health and higher chronic disease rates.

Nutrient gaps can be bridged by adding vitamins and minerals to foods. Consumption of milk based drinks fortified with vitamins A, C, D, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, folic acid, B12, pantothenic acid, and biotin and minerals (calcium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, zinc and potassium) significantly improved serum ferritin, folate,  vitamins B2 and B12 levels and prevented a decline in hemoglobin levels of 7-10y old children from southern India. Consumption of the fortified milk beverage reduced anemia and risk of deficiencies (iron and B12) in apparently healthy children (vs unfortified milk product). Vitamin A supplementation reduces the risk of malaria in children under 5 years of age living in sub-Saharan Africa.

Childhood nutritional status may have a lifelong impact on chronic disease risk. Children living in America who are not using multivitamin mineral supplements need them the most.

Vitamins and minerals are essential. A healthy lifestyle behavior also includes physical activity and maintaining a healthy body weight. For adults, they shouldn’t smoke and only drink alcohol in moderatio.

Main Citation

Kuriyan R, Thankachan P, Selvam S, Pauline M, Srinivasan K, Kamath-Jha S, Vinoy S, Misra S, Finnegan Y, Kurpad AV. The effects of regular consumption of a multiple micronutrient fortified milk beverage on the micronutrient status of school children and on their mental and physical performance. 2015 Clin Nutr doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2015.02.001

Other Citations

Hollm-Delgado M-G, Piel FB, Weiss DJ, Howes RE, Stuart EA, Hay SI, Black RE. Vitamin A supplements, routine immunization, and the subsequent risk of Plasmodium infection among children under 5 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa. 2015 eLife doi: 10.755/eLife.03925

Wallace TC, McBurney M, Fulgoni VL. Multivitamin/mineral supplement contribution to micronutrient intakes in the United States, 2007-2010. 2014 J Am Coll Nutr doi: 10.1080/07315724.2013.846806