NY Times Columnist Calls Vitamin A Supplements A Cost-Effective and "Simple Fix"

May 19, 2009

In the May 13th edition of The New York Times, columnist Nicholas Kristof paints a very favorable portrait of vitamin A supplements.

In the May 13th edition of The New York Times, columnist Nicholas Kristof paints a very favorable portrait of vitamin A supplements. After visiting a town in northern Guinea, Kristof had this to say about supplementation:

"Americans pretty much take vitamin A for granted, but many of the world’s poorest people lack it," he writes. "And as a result, it is estimated that more than half-a-million children die or go blind each year. There’s a simple fix: vitamin A capsules that cost about 2 cents each.

"[It has been] have found that vitamin A supplements reduce not only blindness, but also death from diarrhea and other diseases. A review by Unicef and Helen Keller International reports that in areas such as West Africa where many children lack the vitamin, child mortality drops by approximately 23% after vitamin A capsules are distributed to children.

"According to the United Nations, half of the children in many African countries are deficient in vitamin A (which comes from liver, mangos, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes and dark, green leafy vegetables), and a disease like measles will quickly deplete their supply further and trigger blindness. The upshot is that vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of child blindness in the world today.

“Addressing vitamin A deficiency may be the most cost-effective intervention you can implement,” he quotes a member of Helen Keller International as saying.

To read the full story, click here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/14/opinion/14kristof.html