Micronutrients are essential dietary elements required by organisms in varying quantities throughout life to orchestrate a range of physiological functions to maintain health. Micronutrient requirements vary among organisms. Humans and other animals require numerous vitamins and dietary minerals. Plants tend not to require vitamins, however minerals are required still. For human nutrition, micronutrient requirements are in amounts generally less than 100 milligrams per day, whereas macronutrients are required in gram quantities daily.
The "minerals" for humans and other animals are several elements. Micronutrient requirements for animals also include vitamins, which are organic compounds required in microgram or milligram amounts. Since plants are the primary origin of nutrients for humans and animals, some micronutrients may be in low levels and deficiencies can occur when dietary intake is insufficient, as occurs in malnutrition.
A multiple micronutrient powder of at least iron, zinc, and vitamin A was added to the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines in 2019.
|Nutritional elements in the periodic table|
Essential trace elements
Deemed essential trace element by U.S., not by European Union
Suggested function from deprivation effects or active metabolic handling, but no clearly-identified biochemical function in humans
Limited circumstantial evidence for trace benefits or biological action in mammals
No evidence for biological action in mammals, but essential in some lower organisms.
(In the case of lanthanum, the definition of an essential nutrient as being indispensable and irreplaceable is not completely applicable due to the extreme similarity of the lanthanides. The stable early lanthanides up to Sm are known to stimulate the growth of various lanthanide-using organisms.)
Selected strategies for human health Edit
The returns of applying micronutrient-enriched fertilizers could be significant for human health, social and economic development. Enriching fertilizers with micronutrients not only impacts plants but also on humans and animals through the food chain. A 1994 report by the World Bank estimated that micronutrient malnutrition costs developing economies at least 5 percent of gross domestic product. The Asian Development Bank has summarized the benefits of eliminating micronutrient deficiencies as follows:
Along with a growing understanding of the extent and impact of micronutrient malnutrition, several interventions have demonstrated the feasibility and benefits of correction and prevention. Distributing inexpensive capsules, diversifying to include more micronutrient-rich foods, or fortifying commonly consumed foods can make an enormous difference. Correcting iodine, vitamin A, and iron deficiencies can improve the population-wide intelligence quotient by 10–15 points, reduce maternal deaths by one-fourth, decrease infant and child mortality by 40 percent, and increase people's work capacity by almost half. The elimination of these deficiencies will reduce health care and education costs, improve work capacity and productivity, and accelerate equitable economic growth and national development. Improved nutrition is essential to sustain economic growth. Micronutrient deficiency elimination is as cost-effective as the best public health interventions and fortification is the most cost-effective strategy.
Salt iodization Edit
Salt iodization is major strategy for addressing iodine deficiency, which is a major cause of mental health problems. In 1990, less than 20 percent of households in developing countries were consuming iodized salt. By 1994, international partnerships had formed in a global campaign for Universal Salt Iodization. By 2008, it was estimated that 72 percent of households in developing countries were consuming iodized salt and the number of countries in which iodine deficiency disorders were a public health concern reduced by more than half from 110 to 47 countries.
Vitamin A supplementation Edit
In 1997, national vitamin A supplementation programming received a boost when experts met to discuss rapid scale-up of supplementation activity, and the Micronutrient Initiative, with support from the Government of Canada, began to ensure supply to UNICEF.
In areas with vitamin A deficiency, it is recommended that children aged 6–59 months receive two doses annually. In many countries, vitamin A supplementation is combined with immunization and campaign-style health events.
Global vitamin A supplementation efforts have targeted 103 priority countries. In 1999, 16 percent of children in these countries received two annual doses of vitamin A. By 2007, the rate increased to 62 percent.
The Micronutrient Initiative, with funding from the Government of Canada, supplies 75 percent of the vitamin A required for supplementation in developing countries.
Fortification of staple foods with Vitamin A has uncertain benefits on reducing the risk of subclinical vitamin A deficiency.
Double-fortified salt Edit
Double-fortified salt (DFS) is a public health tool for delivering nutritional iron. DFS is fortified with both iodine and iron. It was developed by Venkatesh Mannar, Executive Director of the Micronutrient Initiative and University of Toronto Professor Levente Diosady, who discovered a process for coating iron particles with a vegetable fat to prevent the negative interaction of iodine and iron.
In India, Tata Salt Plus is an iodine-plus-iron fortified salt, developed by the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad through double fortification technology. This technology was offered to Tata Chemicals under a long-term MoU after due studies on bio-availability across the population strata conducted and published by NIN.
It was first used in public programming in 2004. In September 2010 DFS was produced in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and distributed through a state school feeding program. DFS has also been used to combat iron deficiency anemia (IDA) in the Indian state of Bihar. In September 2010, Venkatesh Mannar was named a Laureat of the California-based Tech Awards for his work in developing Double-Fortified Salt.
Fortification of staple foods may improve serum zinc levels in the population. Other effects such as improving zinc deficiency, children's growth, cognition, work capacity of adults, or blood indicators are unknown. Experiments show that soil and foliar application of zinc fertilizer can effectively reduce the phytate zinc ratio in grain. People who eat bread prepared from zinc enriched wheat show a significant increase in serum zinc, suggesting that the zinc fertilizer strategy is a promising approach to address zinc deficiencies in humans.
About seven trace elements are essential to plant growth, although often in very small quantities.
- Boron is believed to be involved in carbohydrate transport in plants; it also assists in metabolic regulation. Boron deficiency will often result in bud dieback.
- Chlorine is necessary for osmosis and ionic balance; it also plays a role in photosynthesis.
- Copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc are cofactors essential for the functioning of many enzymes. For plants, deficiency in these elements often results in inefficient production of chlorophyll, manifested in chlorosis.
See also Edit
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