Vitamins and minerals for women: recent programs and intervention trials

  • Greiner, Ted (Department of Food and Nutrition, College of Human Ecology, Hanyang University)
  • Published : 2011.02.28


Women's nutrition has received little attention in nutrition programming, even though clinical trials and intervention trials have suggested that dietary improvement or supplementation with several nutrients may improve their health, especially in low-income settings, the main focus of this paper. Most attention so far has focused on how improvements in maternal nutrition can improve health outcomes for infants and young children. Adequate vitamin D and calcium nutrition throughout life may reduce the risk of osteoporosis, and calcium supplementation during pregnancy may reduce preeclampsia and low birth weight. To reduce neural tube defects, additional folic acid and possibly vitamin $B_{12}$ need to be provided to non-deficient women before they know they are pregnant. This is best achieved by fortifying a staple food. It is unclear whether maternal vitamin A supplementation will lead to improved health outcomes for mother or child. Iron, iodine and zinc supplementation are widely needed for deficient women. Multimicronutrient supplementation (MMS) in place of the more common iron-folate supplements given in pregnancy in low-income countries may slightly increase birth weight, but its impact on neonatal mortality and other outcomes is unclear. More sustainable alternative approaches deserve greater research attention.


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