Thursday, March 21, 2013

Micronutrient Deficiency in PH: When the smallest matters most


By their very name, micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that are needed only in very small amounts, but their impact on our health is huge.

Micronutrients like iron, zinc, Vitamin A, and many others are responsible for the vital functioning of our body’s systems, from physical growth and vision, to brain vigor and increased immunity. When the body fails to receive the small quantities of micronutrients that it needs, serious health problems can result in a condition widely regarded as micronutrient deficiency or “hidden hunger”.

The nutritional makeup of the Philippines continues to be characterized by the severity of micronutrient deficiency. According to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute- Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST), 70-90 percent of Filipinos lack iron and Vitamin A in their usual diet.

Two out of ten schoolchildren suffer from iron deficiency anemia, and the incident rises with age. Following closely are those lacking adequate amounts of Vitamin A in their diet. One out of ten from the same group is Vitamin A deficient.

The same study also shows that two out of ten children are zinc deficient. Zinc is a trace mineral that plays a role in body metabolism, reproductive health, immune function, and more than 200 important chemical reactions in the body.

Inadequate intake of these three important micronutrients may lead to several nutritional problems, including stunting, fatigue, poor concentration, lack of focus and other signs of impaired physical and cognitive development. These may be reflected among schoolchildren who suffer from poor mental and physical performance and frequent absenteeism as a result of impaired immunity. It is also important to have plenty of Vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant that boosts immunity, prevents cardiovascular disease, and contributes to healthy skin, among many other benefits.

“Making the right food choices is one of the ways to address the problems of micronutrient deficiency,” said Dr. Imelda Agdeppa, Assistant Scientist of FNRI-DOST. “Unfortunately, the inaccessibility of food and money in the majority of Filipino households puts many families at a high risk of getting sick. The good news is there are many products in the market that are affordable and fortified with these micronutrients, and many families are already benefiting from
these.”

Experts from FNRI recommend that when there is an inadequate intake of these nutrients, the consumption of foods that are fortified particularly with the three micronutrients primarily lacking in the Filipino diet—Vitamin A, Iron, and Zinc—is encouraged so as to address nutrient gap.

In response to this dietary concern, Nestlé Philippines is intensifying its campaign to promote nutritious and affordable sources of important nutrients especially needed by children, such as BEAR BRAND Powdered Milk Drink. It is fortified with tibay resistensya nutrients like Iron, Zinc, and Vitamin C plus Calcium that kids need for proper growth and to perform well in school.

Press Release

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