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A Quick Guide in Understanding Hidden Hunger (Deficiency of Micronutrients)

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Hidden Hunger or micronutrient deficiency is a major health concern across the age group of 6-24 months. Globally, 1 in every 3 individuals suffers from micro-nutrient deficiency. Since micronutrients are essential for adequate growth and nourishment, their deficiency leads to malnutrition. In India, 48% children suffer from some form of malnutrition.

Monday, June 18th, 2018

As the name suggests, signs of hidden hunger are often not visible. An individual may look healthy, but the impact of hidden hunger is often detrimental. In other words, hidden hunger is not felt in the belly but affects in more severe ways.

What are Micronutrients?

Most micronutrients are required in minute quantities and hence the name. However, they perform some of the most vital functions in your body. They can be classified into 2 groups

1 Minerals

  •  Calcium
  • Iron 
  • Sodium
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium
  • Fluorides
  • Potassium

2 Vitamins

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B complex
  • Vitamin D

From tissue development to organ growth, from immunity to creating energy via different metabolic process− Micronutrients are vital for survival. The Iron in your blood helps in the transport of oxygen to various tissues and plays an important role in brain development. Sodium, potassium and magnesium are important salts that help in muscle movement. Vitamins help regulate the smooth functioning of several biological processes. Any deficiency in these micronutrients will result in improper functioning/development of the body.

Cause of hidden hunger

Poor diet is the leading cause of hidden hunger. Most people rely on the diet of staple food like maize, wheat and rice. Although such foods provide energy, they are low in essential minerals and vitamins. In most cases, the realisation of micronutrient deficiency sets in very late. Only after the affliction takes a toll on the body does one realise the consequences of hidden hunger. 

Women and children are in greater need of micronutrients. Micronutrient deficiency during pregnancy and at the time of conception can have long-lasting effects on children. In infants and children, hidden hunger leads to stunted growth and incomplete development.

Hidden hunger is a problem of enormous proportions. Throughout the world, hidden hunger limits the growth potential of children and affects all spheres of their lives− physical, social and intellectual.

Since infants aged 6-12 months are at a risk of developing hidden hunger, it is crucial that you include micronutrient dense food in their diet. However, prevention is better than cure. It is important to detect the signs of micronutrient deficiency before its onset.

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