Malnutrition—in the form of insufficient energy intakes—affects millions of people worldwide and the negative impact of this kind of hunger is well acknowledged, not least by agronomists trying to increase yields to ensure a sufficient supply of food. This review focuses on another, more particular and “hidden” form of malnutrition, namely mineral malnutrition. It illustrates the burden of disease that is caused by mineral deficiencies and the social and economic consequences they bring about. Mineral malnutrition has a considerable negative impact on individual well-being, social welfare and economic productivity. Agricultural scientists should keep the nutritional qualities of food in mind and—next to optimizing the agricultural properties of crops that are paramount for their adoption by farmers—in particular try to increase the micronutrient content in major staple crops as one way to address vitamin and mineral malnutrition in humans; especially plant breeding approaches promise to be very cost-effective.
Stein, A.J. Global impacts of human mineral malnutrition. Plant and Soil (2010) 335 (1-2) 133-154. [DOI: 10.1007/s11104-009-0228-2]