Nutritional deficiency should be addressed at a young age
Inadequacy of vitamins and minerals can directly hamper the immune system
Zinc has a critical role to play in the human immune system. Inadequate levels of zinc can result in serious health consequences, particularly in young children, who are more susceptible to malaria, diarrheal diseases, and pneumonia.
Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, "Micronutrient deficiencies or deficiencies of vitamins and minerals, often referred to as hidden hunger mainly due to diets inadequate in fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains and millets, are not apparent but considered ubiquitous. The primary reason for this deficiency is the availability of foods rich in carbs, sugars and fats, but lacking in vital vitamins and minerals. This is also aggravated by the fact that the consumption of junk food is increasing among educated, wealthier households in India. Although any individual can experience micronutrient deficiency, pregnant women and children are at greatest risk of developing deficiencies."
NIN recommends consumption of 400 grams of fruit and vegetable per day for normal people, of which 100 grams should be fruit. Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of micronutrients and egg, milk as well as flesh foods are also good sources.
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, "Even home-cooked food can be deficient in nutrients. This is because we tend to cook and over-cook a lot of dishes as part of their preparation. Micronutrient deficiency is an issue that does not have an easy solution. The best way out is to get maximum nutrition from raw fruits and vegetables and forego a processed food diet."
Schools can help in shaping the lives of students and have a very important role to play in the battle against nutritional deficiencies. Healthy habits in childhood lay a foundation for a healthier adulthood. Some helpful habits entail eating a healthy balanced diet. All the four major food groups including carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and dairy should form a part of a child's diet plan.
Some rich sources of zinc
· For those who consume non-vegetarian food, fish is an excellent source of zinc. Meat and poultry are other options. Eggs also contain a good amount of zinc.
· For vegetarians, the best options include a handful of nuts in their daily diet. These can be a mix of walnuts, almonds, cashews and other dry fruits and nuts.
· Other food items to supplement daily zinc requirement include legumes, whole grains and dairy products.
Heart Care Foundation of India