A multi-micronutrient beverage enhances the Vitamin A and zinc status of Nigerian primary schoolchildren


Schoolchildren in Nigeria are rarely targeted by micronutrient interventions. We completed a 6-mo, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to determine the effects of a multi-micronutrient beverage on biochemical and anthropometric indicators of nutritional status among schoolchildren participating in a pilot school feeding program in Nasarawa State, Nigeria. Children received 1 of 2 interventions 5 d/wk during school hours: 1) 250 mL/d of a multi-micronutrient beverage that included vitamin A, iron, and zinc (micronutrient); or 2) an isoenergetic control beverage (control). At baseline, 566 children 5–13 y old were randomized to groups (micronutrient: n = 288; control: n = 278). Height, weight, hemoglobin, and serum concentrations of C-reactive protein, ferritin, retinol, and zinc were measured at baseline and at the end of the study.

A total of 270 children in the micronutrient group and 264 children in the control group completed the study. Self-reports of vomiting increased in both groups at 6 mo; however, the prevalence tended to be greater in the micronutrient group (21%) compared to the control group (14%) (P = 0.06). Biochemical changes were greater in the micronutrient group compared to control for serum retinol (0.10 ± 0.02 μmol/L vs. 0.02 ± 0.02 μmol/L; P = 0.016) and zinc (1.0 ± 0.2 μmol/L vs. 0.6 ± 0.2 μmol/L; P = 0.031). The intervention did not significantly affect hemoglobin or serum ferritin concentrations. The cost effectiveness of the intervention needs to be further evaluated, as does the efficacy of the beverage on anemia and indicators of iron status.

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