Micronutrients and diarrheal disease

Clin Infect Dis. 2007 Jul 15;45 Suppl 1:S73-7. doi: 10.1086/518152.


Diarrhea is a leading cause of death among children <5 years of age and can be exacerbated by micronutrient malnutrition. Vitamin A supplementation given every 6 months reduces the mortality rate by 23% among children 6-59 months of age and reduces the severity of diarrhea, but it does not affect overall diarrhea-associated morbidity. When given for the treatment of diarrhea, vitamin A appears to have no effect on the duration of the diarrheal episode and is not recommended for routine treatment of diarrhea. Regular zinc supplementation has been shown to reduce diarrhea prevalence and mortality, yet global programmatic recommendations regarding prophylactic zinc supplementation have not been made. Short-course daily zinc supplementation shortens the duration (a 15%-24% reduction) and severity of the episode and is now recommended for the treatment of all episodes of diarrhea occurring among children <5 years of age. Folic acid supplementation does not appear to be effective in the prevention or treatment of diarrheal disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Developing Countries
  • Diarrhea, Infantile* / prevention & control
  • Diarrhea, Infantile* / therapy
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Fluid Therapy*
  • Folic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Micronutrients / therapeutic use*
  • Vitamin A / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / complications
  • Zinc / deficiency
  • Zinc / therapeutic use


  • Micronutrients
  • Vitamin A
  • Folic Acid
  • Zinc