Health26 Sep 2009 01:14 pm
A new edition of The Intellectual Devotional, this time with a focus on Health, is coming to stores on October 16! (Click here to pre-order your copy.) As well as continuing to expand on posts from the General Edition, “The Devoted Intellect” blog will introduce and expand on material from the Modern Culture devotional. Today’s entry on “Trace Elements” is from the “Lifestyle and Preventative Medicine” section of the Health edition.
Trace elements, also referred to as micronutrients, are dietary nutrients that the body requires in small quantities (generally less than 100 micrograms per day) for proper growth and development. Included in the category of trace elements are the minerals iron, cobalt, chromium, copper, iodine, manganese, selenium, zinc and molybdenum. Even though the body only needs trace elements in small quantities, they are crucial for health. Unfortunately, crop micronutrient deficiencies are extremely common, especially in the developing world (it is estimated that 50% of the world cereal soils are deficient in zinc, and 30% of all crops are iron deficient). As such, many scientists enthusiastically endorse the use of micronutrient-enriched fertilizers, especially in developing countries, for the purposes of correcting plant nutritive deficiencies (thus benefiting the humans and animals that consume them).
Proponents of the use of micronutrient enriched fertilizers, such as the Micronutrient Initiative (MI), refer to the chronic nutritive deficiencies prevalent in the developing world as “hidden hunger.” Hidden hunger is distinguished from hunger in that it does not arise as a result of a lack of food. Rather, it is caused by a chronic lack of vitamins and minerals that can have very serious consequences, such as poor cognitive development, impaired health loss of productivity and maternal death. A report compiled by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank goes as far as to claim that micronutrient-enriched fertilizers could improve the cognitive capabilities, productivity and overall health of people in developing countries (and significantly decrease maternal deaths). “Probably no other technology,” the World Bank report said with respect to micronutrients, “offers as large an opportunity to improve lives … at such low cost and in such a short time.”
Despite raves from the international scientific community, developing countries have been frustratingly slow in implementing the use of available micronutrient enriching technologies. Many advocates attribute this to the fact that micro-nutrients suffer from a publicity problem, i.e. they simply aren’t very glamorous (even prominent do-gooder Angelina Jolie has managed to overlook them). However, awareness of the importance of micronutrients is growing, which will hopefully spur developing countries to take action.
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