Key practice: Micronutrients for children, adolescents and women
Why they are important for your family
Give children, adolescents and women adequate amounts of micro-nutrients and de-worm them. Essential identified micro-nutrients are Vitamin A, Folic Acid, Iron and Iodine.
Why are micronutrients important?
- Vitamin A, Iron and Iodine help the body to function and grow properly.
- Vitamin A strengthens the child’s eyesight and protects the child against night blindness.
- Give older children (adolescent) Folic Acid and food rich in Folic Acid. Folic Acid helps young girls whose bodies are changing to prepare them for being a mother in the future.
- Iron is needed for the formation of blood in the body and the prevention of anaemia.
- Iodine prevents goiter and helps your child’s brain to grow.
Benefits of Vitamin A
- Children need vitamin A to help resist illness, protect their eyesight and reduce the risk of death. Vitamin A can be found in many fruits and vegetables, red palm oil, eggs, dairy products, liver, fish, meat, fortified foods and breastmilk. In areas where vitamin A deficiency is common, high-dose vitamin A supplements can also be given every four to six months to children aged 6 months to 5 years.
- Until infants are 6 months old, breastmilk is the main source of vitamin A, provided the mother has enough vitamin A from her diet or supplements. Children aged 6 months to 5 years can get vitamin A from a variety of other foods, such as liver, eggs, dairy products, fatty fish, red palm oil, ripe mangoes and papayas, oranges, yellow sweet potatoes, dark green leafy vegetables and carrots.
- When children do not have enough vitamin A they are less able to fight potentially fatal diseases and are at risk of night blindness.
- Diarrhoea and measles deplete vitamin A from the child’s body. A child with diarrhoea lasting several days or with measles, or who is severely malnourished, should be treated with high-dose vitamin A supplements obtained from a trained health worker.
Benefits of Iron
- Children need iron-rich foods to protect their physical and mental abilities and to prevent anaemia. The best sources of iron are animal sources, such as liver, lean meats and fish. Other good sources are iron-fortified foods and iron supplements.
- A lack of iron in the diet is a common cause of anaemia. Iron deficiency can impair physical and mental development in infants and young children. Even mild iron deficiency can impair intellectual development.
- Anaemia is the most common nutritional disorder in the world.
Benefits of Iodine
- Iodine in a pregnant woman’s and young child’s diet is especially critical for the development of the child’s brain. It is essential to help prevent learning disabilities and delayed development. Using iodized salt instead of ordinary salt provides pregnant women and their children with as much iodine as they need.
- Small amounts of iodine are essential for children’s growth and development.
- Using iodized salt instead of ordinary salt provides pregnant women and children with as much iodine as they need. Iodized salt is safe for the whole family and is the only salt needed for all cooking.
- If a woman does not have enough iodine during pregnancy, her child is likely to be born with a mental disability or possibly a hearing or speech disability.
- If the child does not get enough iodine during infancy and childhood, he or she may have delayed physical, mental or cognitive development.
- Even mild deficiency can reduce learning ability and lower intelligence.