Micronutrient deficiencies are a public health concern worldwide negatively affecting maternal and child health outcomes. The primary underlying causes of micronutrient deficiencies are insufficient intake and poor bioavailability of micronutrients. However, reliable data on micronutrient intakes are sparse. The objectives of this study were to identify the key local food sources providing the majority of micronutrients and assess the adequacy and determinants of micronutrient intakes.
The study used data from a survey of 4,983 rural women of reproductive age (WRA) participating in a preconception micronutrient supplementation trial in Vietnam. Micronutrient intakes were assessed using a validated 107-item semi-quantitative food-frequency questionnaire. Multivariate linear and logistic regression analyses were used to examine the association between socioeconomic status and micronutrient intakes.
Starchy staples were the main source of iron and zinc (37% and 54%, respectively) with only a small proportion from meat (10% and 18%, respectively). The primary source of folate and vitamin A were vegetables; vitamin B12 came from meat and eggs. The proportion of the population with intakes below the estimated average requirement was 25% for iron, 16% for zinc, 54% for folate, 64% for vitamin B12 and 27% for vitamin A. Socioeconomic status was the main determinant of micronutrient intakes. WRA in the highest quintile consumed 26% more iron, 19% more zinc, 36% more folate, 82% more vitamin B12 and 47% more vitamin A compared to those in the lowest quintile. Women in the upper quintiles of SES were more likely to obtain nutrients from more nutritious and higher bioavailable foods than those in the lowest quintile.
Underprivileged women were at increased risk for insufficient micronutrient intakes due to poor diet quality. Targeted efforts to promote the consumption of local nutrient rich foods along with educational programs and social development are needed.