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National Nutrition Week sees Bayer reinstate focus on balanced diet to offset deficiencies
Tuesday, 12 September, 2023, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
National Nutrition Week, observed annually during the first week of September, is a reminder to eat a balanced diet, but we are not always able to ensure that we get all the nutrients, especially ‘micronutrients’ that we need. These are vitamins and minerals that are required in small quantities but play a huge role in body functions such as immunity, growth, and cognition, said Dr Nikhil Bangale, head, medical affairs, Bayer Consumer Health.

The quantity of micronutrients required varies according to age, lifestyle, genetic factors, environmental factors, and underlying health conditions. During certain life-stages such as childhood, adolescence, pregnancy, and lactation their need goes up. For example, zinc is vital for immune function, growth of children and supports reproductive health in women. It aids in wound healing, making it essential for women post-childbirth. Pregnant and breastfeeding women often require extra vitamin C and D to support their own health as well as the growth and development of their infants. "Additionally, children, especially, during periods of rapid growth, require micronutrients such as iron, vitamin D and calcium to ensure proper cognitive and bone development," he added.  

In our country, deficiencies of micronutrients such as iron, vitamin A, iodine, vitamin D, and calcium are highly prevalent. This is because of the lack of dietary diversity which is defined as the number of different food groups consumed over a given reference period. "The WHO identifies eight diverse groups, which are whole grains, roots and tubers, legumes and nuts, dairy products, flesh foods, eggs, vitamin A-rich fruits and vegetables and other fruits and vegetables[i]. People who consume fewer than five of these food groups are said to have minimum dietary diversity and are at high risk of micronutrient deficiencies," stated Dr Bangale, while speaking to FnB News.

Noting that science-based self-care is the need of the hour to address the growing challenge of micronutrient deficiency in India,  Dr Bangale said, “This means that people should be educated about the importance of dietary diversity and locally available foods belonging to each food group. They should be encouraged to incorporate vitamin and mineral supplements when it is not possible to consume a diet comprising all food groups. A nutritionist or doctor’s guidance can be sought to determine the right kind of supplements.”

Science-based supplements and health solutions are often necessary to complement an individual’s regular diet and meet the modern day demands of micronutrients. "But, creating awareness is key, and consumers should be informed about the benefits of these supplements when taken only in the right quantities," he stated.
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