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Micronutrients are essential elements needed for life in small quantities. They include microminerals and Vitamins.

Microminerals or trace elements include at least iron, cobalt, chromium, copper, iodine, manganese, selenium, zinc, and molybdenum. They are dietary minerals needed by the human body in very small quantities (generally less than 100mg/day) as opposed to macrominerals which are required in larger quantities. Note that the use of the term "mineral" here is distinct from the usage in the geological sciences.

Vitamins are organic chemicals that a given living organism requires in trace quantities for good health, but which the organism cannot synthesize, and therefore must obtain from its diet.

Impact of micronutrients on psychological functioning[edit | edit source]

Micronutrient Malnutrition[edit | edit source]

More than two billion people (i.e. one in three persons worldwide) suffer from micronutrient deficiency. The most common deficiencies can have devastating consequences:

  1. Vitamin A deficiency: Nearly 3 million preschool children in developing countries are blind because of vitamin A deficit.
  2. Iron-deficiency Anemia results in one out of four maternal deaths in the developing world. The cost of fortifying flour with iron is 20 cents (US) per person per year (World Bank estimate).
  3. Iodine deficiency is the world's leading cause of mental retardation -- more than 2 billion children suffer from lowered IQ and retardation due to Iodine deficiency. The costs of providing iodized salt are estimated at 10 cents per person per year.

Vitamin E and Zinc deficiency are also serious causes for concern.

Micronutrient malnutrition is practically unknown in developed countries owing to inexpensive interventions such as food fortification, supplementation, and dietary diversification,

South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are among the areas with the most affected people.

See also[edit | edit source]

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