Micronutrient deficiency, a lurking urban malady

NIN study shows diet of 62% urban population lacking in vitamins, minerals

Updated - December 27, 2018 01:27 pm IST

Published - December 27, 2018 12:13 am IST - HYDERABAD

A vendor selling fruits at Shivajinagar Russel Market in Bangalore

A vendor selling fruits at Shivajinagar Russel Market in Bangalore

You may be full after a meal, but are you eating right?

The question assumes significance after a recent study by National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) has found that the diet of 62% of the urban population are micronutrient-inadequate.

Micronutrient deficiencies or deficiencies of vitamins and minerals, often referred to as hidden hunger mainly due to diets inadequate in fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains and millets, are not apparent but considered ubiquitous affecting more than two billion people globally. Of them, one third reside in India.


The NIN study assessed the dietary adequacies of micro-nutrients among the apparently healthy adults from urban and semi urban set-up of Hyderabad and concluded that high prevalence of micro nutrient deficiencies is possibly due to the inadequacy of multiple micronutrients.

Eating wrong food

NIN scientist Dr G. Bhanuprakash Reddy, who led the research team, said despite achieving food sufficiency, countries like India suffer a massive burden of micronutrient deficiencies (hidden hunger).

Health risk

Deficiencies of iron, iodine, vitamin A, folate and zinc, particularly in children, pregnant women and older people, are usually most focused, but it is the deficiency of other micronutrients in apparently healthy adults that seems to be a lurking nutritional problem as deficiency of these nutrients is associated with the increased risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

NIN recommends consumption of 400 grams of fruit and vegetable per day for normal people, of which 100 grams should be fruit. Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of micronutients and egg, milk as well as flesh foods are also good sources. The study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition employed a probability approach method, found that 62% of the population had micronutrient inadequacy.

Prevalence of anaemia

The study also reported that about a third of all the subjects were anaemic with higher prevalence in women (48%) than in men (10%). What is more intriguing is that only about 50% of the anaemia is due to iron deficiency and rest could be attributed to other factors including deficiency of other micronutrients, particularly zinc, calcium, folate and Vitamin B12. The dietary inadequacy of riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A, Vitamin C and thiamine ranged from 40 to 65%.

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