In our minds, we mostly associate malnutrition with people who do not have food to eat at all or in little quantity. Guess what? Malnutrition is a condition which can be present in anyone. A person can be malnourished due to poor diet, increased micronutrient needs during certain life stages, such as pregnancy and lactation, and health problems such as diseases, infections, or parasites. Malnutrition can be undernutrition or over-nutrition. Undernutrition is not having enough intake of nutrients while over-nutrition is having too much intake of nutrients.
As the name implies, hidden hunger is not readily visible and does not take effect as a result of a day’ or a week’s meals. Its effects take months and even years to show. Hidden hunger is a form of undernutrition; a deficiency/ lack of micronutrients (vitamins and/ minerals). Micronutrients are needed by the body in small quantities. Hence the name, micronutrients. Worldwide, one in three people have hidden hunger!
Although micronutrients are needed by the body in small amounts, the effect on the body when not present can be quite devastating. Vitamins and minerals are vital for growth, immune function, brain development and many other important functions. Depending on their function, certain micronutrients also play a role in preventing and fighting disease.
Therefore, deliberate choices must be made on the kinds of food being eaten especially for children, whose need for good nutrition is not just for maintenance but for growth; and mothers, whose nutritional status during pregnancy and breastfeeding has long-term consequences for growth and development of their babies.
Feeding your child meat, fish, cereals, potatoes, nuts and beans is not enough. You must ensure you give fruits and veggies as micronutrients are more commonly found in them. Eat varieties of foods to get enough vitamins and minerals as the micronutrient content of each food is different. An adequate intake of all micronutrients is necessary for optimal health, as each vitamin and mineral has a specific role in your body.
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This article was contributed by Adeola Akanbi
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