Topic of the Month
The health economic benefits of adequate micronutrient intakes
1 January 2013
Humans require an adequate intake of micronutrients in order to maintain normal bodily function. Though it is possible to obtain sufficient doses from a healthy diet, proper micronutrient nutrition is not always possible, especially in low- and middle-income countries. In developed countries, national intake surveys have shown inadequate micronutrient status for vulnerable population groups, such as children, women during pregnancy and lactation, the elderly, and people who are ill, as well as for young to middle-aged adults who make unhealthy food and other lifestyle-related choices that become risk factors. Micro-nutrient deficiencies and long-term insufficient intakes are associated with adverse health effects ranging from severe birth defects to chronic diseases. The costs of treating these health implications, as well as the productivity lost due to micronutrient deficiency-related morbidity and mortality, have been found in various studies to be economically significant. Interventions aimed at correcting insufficient micronutrient intakes have been generally proven cost effective.