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Open Access Impact of a multiple-micronutrient food supplement on the nutritional status of schoolchildren

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Background. Multiple-micronutrient deficiencies exist in many developing nations. A system to deliver multiple micronutrients effectively would be of value in these countries.

Objective. To evaluate the delivery of multiple micronutrients through the food route. The goal was to test the stability of the supplement during cooking and storage and then to test its bioefficacy and bioavailability in residential schoolchildren 5 to 15 years of age.

Methods. A pre- and post-test design was used to study children 5 to 15 years of age, with an experimental and a control group. The experimental group (n = 211) consisted of children from two residential schools, and the control group (n = 202) consisted of children from three residential schools. The experimental group received a micronutrient supplement containing vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folic acid, niacin, calcium pantothenate, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, lysine, and calcium daily for 9 months. There was no nutritional intervention in the control group.

Children in the experimental and control groups were matched by socioeconomic status, age, and eating habits at baseline. All of the children in the experimental and control schools were dewormed at baseline, after 4 months, and at the endpoint. Biochemical measurements (hemoglobin, serum vitamin A, serum vitamin E, serum vitamin B12, and serum folic acid) were measured at baseline, after 4 months, and at the endpoint (after 9 months). The heights and weights of the children were also measured at baseline and endpoint. Serum vitamins A and E were measured in a subsample of 50% and vitamin B12 and serum folic acid measured in a subsample of 25% of the children.

Results. In the experimental group, the mean gains in hemoglobin, serum vitamin A, serum vitamin E, serum vitamin B12, and serum folic acid over 9 months were 0.393 g/dL, 6.0375 g/dL, 1037.45 g/dL, 687.604 pg/mL, and 1.864 ng/mL, respectively. In the control group, the mean losses in hemoglobin and serum vitamin A over 9 months were 0.9556 g/dL and 10.0641 g/dL, respectively, and the mean gains in serum vitamin E, vitamin B12, and folic acid were 903.52 g/dL, 233.283 pg/mL, and 0.0279 ng/mL. The mean gain in all biochemical measurements was significantly higher (p < .05) in the experimental group than in the control group.

Conclusions. Vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron are bioavailable from the multiple-micronutrient food supplement used in this study. This method of micronutrient delivery has been beneficial. We believe the study intervention was beneficial because of small doses of the micronutrients added but delivered many times through meals throughout the day, over a period of 9 months.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2006

More about this publication?
  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106

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