Micronutrient Fortification for the Prevention and Treatment of Micronutrient Defi ciencies

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Growth is fastest during the first two years of life, thus it is not surprising that the most nutritionally vulnerable groups are infants and young children 6-24 months of age, as their requirements for vitamins and minerals are high relative to the amount of food they consume. To ensure that infants meet their micronutrient needs, three types of fortification have been recommended: general staple-food (commodity) fortification, targeted fortification and home fortification. Of the three mode of fortification, only the latter two are effective for use in infants and young children. With fortifi cation of staple foods, like wheat flour, the level of fortification is too low for the amount of food eaten by infants and young children. Targeted fortification is efficacious, since the food vehicle and the level of fortification are targeted to infants and young children. However this mode of fortification is not effective in developing countries where factory-prepared foods are rarely used for complementary feeding. Most recently, a third type of fortification, homefortifi cation has been developed. Home-fortifi cation has been made possible with the development of micronutrient powders, which are minerals and vitamins in a powder form that are packaged in a small sachet and then added to foods at the point of use. Research studies in developing countries have proven the effectiveness of home fortification as a means to fortify food in the home and to effectively both treat and prevent micronutrient deficiencies.

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