Vitamin and mineral deficiency: a global progress report.

Author:Reinhardt, Erika
 
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In an effort to create a higher level of awareness by politicians, the press and the public of the scale and severity of vitamin and mineral deficiency, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Micronutrient Initiative, a not-for-profit organization specializing in addressing these deficiencies, launched in New York on 24 March 2004 a global progress report entitled "Vitamin & Mineral Deficiency" during the 31st session of the annual meeting of the UN Standing Committee on Nutrition. As many as a third of the world population do not meet their physical and intellectual potential because of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and their severe effects have long been known. The accompanying "National Damage Assessment Reports" present data on the toll being taken by this deficiency in eighty developing countries.

The report states that less extreme cases result in: iron deficiency, which impairs intellectual development in young children, thus lowering national IQs: vitamin A deficiency, which compromises the immune system of approximately 40 per cent of children under five in developing countries and leads to the deaths of 1 million each year; and iodine deficiency in pregnancy, which causes mental impairment in as many as 20 million babies each year.

"It is no longer a question of treating severe deficiency in individuals. It is a question of reaching out to whole populations to protect them against the devastating...

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