Supplementation of micronutrients in community micronutrient deficiency prevention programmes
Micronutrient deficiency affects about 2 billion people all over the world. The major micronutrient deficiencies which are of public health importance include vitamin A, iron and iodine deficiencies. The deficiencies of these micronutrients cause a variety of morbidities and increased mortality which are most severe in children, adolescent girls and pregnant women. Despite the magnitude of these deficiencies, research has shown that
they are correctable using simple strategies. This review examines the strategies employed to reduce micronutrient deficiencies worldwide by reviewing bibliographic databases, monograms and journals up to
the year 2007. These strategies include food based and micronutrient supplementation. Although micronutrient supplementation is widely embraced as a strategy to combat micronutrient deficiencies, they are most suitable when used as a measure to combat severe deficiencies.
Food based strategies such as food fortification and dietary diversification are more effective than micronutrient supplementation which should only be used as a short term measure. Supplementation programmes should be evidence based, multi-nutrient in approach and backed up with other complementary public health interventions.
Keywords: Supplementation, iron, vitamin A, iodine, combined strategy
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