Micronutrient deficiencies and their public health implications for South-East Asia

Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2019 Nov;22(6):479-482. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000603.


Purpose of review: Micronutrient deficiencies are highly prevalent worldwide, including in South-East Asia, and have a profound impact on public health. Most efforts towards eliminating micronutrient deficiencies have focused on vitamin A, iron, and iodine deficiency. But deficiency of other micronutrients also affect public health. The purpose of the present review is to provide an overview of micronutrient deficiency prevalence in South-East Asia and potential public health impact.

Recent findings: Representative and up-to-date data on micronutrient status in South-East Asia is limited. Although anemia is still prevalent in South-East Asia, iron deficiency appears not to be prevalent in Cambodia, and less prevalent than thought in Vietnam and Indonesia. Estimates of prevalence of vitamin A deficiency range widely, but most recent data suggest a prevalence of deficiency in children less than 5 years of age less than 15% in most countries. Zinc deficiency is highly prevalent in the region (affecting >30% of subjects). Thiamine deficiency is highly prevalent in Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar.

Summary: A better coordination of efforts to reduce micronutrient deficiency, and a focus more inclusive for other micronutrients than iron, vitamin A, and iodine is urgently needed for South-East Asia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency
  • Asia, Southeastern / epidemiology
  • Deficiency Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Deficiency Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Iodine / deficiency
  • Micronutrients / deficiency*
  • Nutritional Status
  • Public Health*
  • Zinc / deficiency


  • Micronutrients
  • Iodine
  • Zinc