Plant and Soil

, Volume 335, Issue 1–2, pp 133–154 | Cite as

Global impacts of human mineral malnutrition

Regular Article

Abstract

Malnutrition—in the form of insufficient energy intakes—affects millions of people worldwide and the negative impact of this kind of hunger is well acknowledged, not least by agronomists trying to increase yields to ensure a sufficient supply of food. This review focuses on another, more particular and “hidden” form of malnutrition, namely mineral malnutrition. It illustrates the burden of disease that is caused by mineral deficiencies and the social and economic consequences they bring about. Mineral malnutrition has a considerable negative impact on individual well-being, social welfare and economic productivity. Agricultural scientists should keep the nutritional qualities of food in mind and—next to optimizing the agricultural properties of crops that are paramount for their adoption by farmers—in particular try to increase the micronutrient content in major staple crops as one way to address vitamin and mineral malnutrition in humans; especially plant breeding approaches promise to be very cost-effective.

Keywords

Humans Micronutrient malnutrition Mineral deficiencies Burden of disease Social and economic costs Biofortification 

Abbreviations

CaD

calcium deficiency

CGIAR

Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research

FAO

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

FeD

iron deficiency

FeDA

iron deficiency anemia

GDP

gross domestic product

GM

genetically modified

ID

iodine deficiency

IPR

intellectual property rights

SeD

selenium deficiency

VAD

vitamin A deficiency

VMD

vitamin and mineral deficiency

WFP

World Food Programme

WHO

World Health Organization

ZnD

zinc deficiency

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.SevilleSpain

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