Micronutrients enable the body to produce enzymes, hormones and other substances essential for proper growth and development. Although only needed in tiny amounts, even moderate levels of deficiency can have serious detrimental effects on human function. Micronutrient malnutrition has many adverse effects on human health, not all of which are clinically evident. In addition to the direct health effects, micronutrient malnutrition has profound implications for economic development and productivity, including potentially huge public health costs and the loss of human development.
Micronutrient malnutrition is widespread globally, but especially in developing countries. It can affect all age groups, but young children and women of reproductive age are among those most at risk. The three major micronutrient deficiencies in Eastern Mediterranean Region are in iodine, vitamin A and iron. In the Region:
45% of the total population has iron deficiency anaemia
54% of the total population has insufficient iodine intake
22% of preschool children have vitamin A deficiency.