African Journal of

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Biotechnol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1684-5315
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJB
  • Start Year: 2002
  • Published Articles: 12278

The role of micronutrients in child health: A review of the literature

E. Ekweagwu1, A. E. Agwu2* and E. Madukwe3
  1National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Enugu Zonal Office, Enugu State, Nigeria. 2Department of Agricultural Extension, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Enugu State, Nigeria. 3Department of Home Science, Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.  
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 08 August 2008
  •  Published: 05 November 2008




The health and well being of children depend upon the interaction between their genetic potential and exogenous factors like adequacy of nutrition, safety of the environment, social interaction and stimulation. Micronutrients which are nutrients that are only needed by the body in minute amounts play leading roles in the production of enzymes, hormones and other substances and also help to regulate growth activity, development and functioning of the immune and reproductive systems. Micronutrient deficiency, which has been considered as a major risk factor in child survival in Nigeria, increases the risk of death from common diseases such as acute gastroenteritis, pneumonia and measles. Dietary practices frequently seen in children from both developed and developing countries such as frequent consumption of nutrient-poor foods (as unhealthy snacks), and the “refusal” to take green leafy vegetables and fruits compromise their intake of micronutrients (such as zinc, iodine, vitamin A, iron, folate and selenium) from dietary sources. This paper reviews the role of micronutrients in child health and the importance of consuming green leafy vegetables, soy beans, seasonal fruits, milk, dairy products, fish, eggs, chicken and other food stuffs. The consumption of these foods will prevent the occurrence of common day to day infections in children, enable the society produce healthy children with solid foundation and ensure optimal human resource development.


Key words: Micronutrients, child health, nutritional deficiency.