Multiple micronutrient deficiencies are still common worldwide and often occur at an early age, negatively affecting both physical and cognitive development. Even though specific effects of a variety of different micronutrients have been studied extensively, it is understood that a combination of multiple micronutrients may be more beneficial in most instances, as deficiencies usually do not occur in isolation. The aim of this review was to summarize the most recent evidence of the effects of micronutrient interventions on growth, mental, and physical performance as well as morbidity in children.
For growth, cognitive or motor function, and morbidity, it appears that providing sufficient amounts of micronutrients especially to the most vulnerable and deficient groups of children can make a difference, but also that the intervention has to be planned carefully. However, findings are still variable, more particularly with reference to morbidity. Two reports of increased diagnoses of infection with micronutrient supplementation are also of concern.
There are still difficulties in coming to a universal conclusion about benefit in all populations, because reports vary in study design, population, and so on. Although micronutrients have a role in depleted groups, it is also important to not only consider the group of children targeted, but also the regime of administration.
aDivision of Nutrition, St John's Research Institute, St John's National Academy of Health Sciences, Bangalore, India
bHuman Nutrition Laboratory, Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Correspondence to Anura V. Kurpad, Professor, Department of Physiology, St John's Medical College & Head Division of Nutrition, St John's Research Institute, Opp BDA Complex, Koramangala, Bangalore 560 034, India. Tel: +91 80 25532037; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.