Greetings, friends! we have wanted to make an article on the topic “Nutrition Deficiency in India” for many months. Today, finally we have got the opportunity to do so. It is a very important and interesting topic for the development of the country, its people, and for all of your health.
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare published a great report last year about the country’s nutrition named Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey. This survey was conducted from 2016 to 2018 in order to determine the different types of deficiencies in people of different age groups belonging to different states.
Which Indian State has Best Nutrition?
- Who has a deficiency of Vitamin A?
- Which age group has a deficiency of Vitamin D?
- Who has Iron deficiency?
By answering these question we can come to the conclusion that in which state, which element is deficient in people’s diet and how is it that we can make our diet more balanced and complete by learning from each other. This is a very important topic for all people. Let’s explore the interesting facts on Nutrition Deficiency in India.
Some states have Iron deficiency while others have Vitamin A deficiency.
So where is the shortfall in our diet? It will not only be interesting to know this but also useful for us to apply in our daily life. We have made this article in collaboration with a nutritionist in order to lay out the findings of this report.
Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS) is the country’s biggest-ever micronutrient survey to have been conducted. It has been conducted on more than 1 lakh children and adolescents. More than 2500 people conducted this survey across 30 different states covering almost all the districts in the country.
See the full report of CNNS: https://www.popcouncil.org/uploads/pdfs/2019RH_CNNSreport.pdf
Let me explain some basics first. We all know obesity is a kind of problem. When someone’s weight is more, it is being overweight. But malnutrition can be of many types One is being overweight and the other is being underweight i.e your weight is less in accordance with your age.
Another one is stunting i.e your height is less in accordance with your age. Yet another is wasting i.e your weight is less in accordance with your height.
What is interesting is that you can be overweight/obese as well as stunted at the same time. This means that your weight is more according to your age but your height is less and called a double burden. This can happen if you have a terrible diet.
According to the survey, 26.4% of children in the 10-19 age group in the country are stunted, 4.1% are overweight while 0.8% are going through double burden. If we look state-wise then Tamil Nadu, Goa, and Delhi account for the highest percentage of overweight children which is 12-14%.
In the states where the percentage is lowest such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, the percentage of underweight children is higher here. This data is not telling us much. This is just telling us a general relation between malnutrition and poverty. It will be more interesting to know which state has what kind of deficiency in their diet.
Related post on Nutrition Deficiency in India: Herbal Balance for Life
Nutrition Deficiency in India
Firstly, we will talk about anemia which means having low hemoglobin concentration in your body. Due to this, you can experience fatigue, weakness, tiredness as well as weakening of your immune system. It can happen due to many reasons.
It can be due to deficiency of iron, B12 and folate in your diet.
Genetics could also be a reason.
The report states that anaemia is seen most in West Bengal and Tripura in children of the age group 10-19 years old.
conversation between Dhruv and Amrita
Dhruv talked to nutritionist Amrita in order to know more about this and what can people take in order to avoid anemia.
Watch Video on Nutrition Deficiency in India
Amrita: -Anaemia which is caused by nutritional imbalance is mainly seen in vegetarians.
Amrita: -This is because Iron present in food is better absorbed by the body when it comes from a non-vegetarian food source. If anaemia happens due to the deficiency of Iron and if we have to focus on food then non-vegetarians can focus on organ meats like liver.
And if you are a vegetarian then your best sources of Iron are from seeds. So, any seeds that are available, you can take them.
Dhruv: -For example… What kind of seeds?
Amrita: -You can take flax seeds which are called ‘alsi’. You can take ‘sabja’ seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds.
Dhruv: -In which type of food preparation, can we mix these seeds?
Amrita: -You can even eat it raw, soaked in water, make it a powder and knead it with your dough for the ‘roti’.
Here, another interesting conclusion comes to the fore. If you look at this chart, it shows the prevalence of anaemia by sex among children age group wise. Tillage 10, the male and female graph is almost similar.
However, after that, the percentage of anemia in females rises quite a lot as compared to males. This happens due to menstruation. Post puberty, females undergo blood loss which results in increased loss of Iron.
So, to compensate for the same, they need to consume Iron-rich foods. It is important to realize this because this is the reason that for age 19, 50% of females have anemia while only 10% of males have it.
2. Iron Deficiency in India
Secondly, let’s directly talk about Iron deficiency. It is highest in Punjab, Rajasthan, and Gujarat. Specifically in Punjab, 45% of children in the age group of 10-19 have Iron deficiency. The best states in regards to Iron deficiency are Jharkhand, Mizoram, and Assam where this percentage is around 10%.
Amrita: -The only problem is when you combine Iron with Vitamin C rich food then the absorption of Iron is much better.
Amrita: -When we think of Vitamin C, we think of citrus fruits or fruits that are tangy in taste have Vitamin C. Red or orange bell peppers have high Vitamin C content when consumed raw.
Generally, whenever you are consuming any seed preparation then consume it with a combination of any Vitamin C preparation.
Dhruv: -It is to be consumed with orange, lemon, and the like?
Amrita: -For example, seeds. You can mix it with milk and consume it or if you are eating it raw then you can consume fruits along with it for breakfast.
Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the entire world. If any child suffers from Iron deficiency then it affects his cognitive development. So, make note of the food items that you can consume in order to avoid this deficiency.
3. Protein Deficiency in India
Next is protein deficiency. This has not been mentioned in this report. But a 2017 survey revealed that 73% of Indians have protein deficiency. This is quite a big and shocking number.
Amrita: -Again, if you are a non-vegetarian then protein is pretty easy to get. Any animal product that you consume has protein in it. Vegetarians commune only milk in animal products i.e they only consume dairy products. All types of meats, chicken, and fish have protein in it.
Consuming even small quantities of these will get you a decent amount of protein. Vegetarians, on the other hand, can have dairies such as milk, buttermilk, cottage cheese as well as pulses and beans. But they need to be consumed in larger quantities in order to get the same amount of protein as non-vegetarians.
The protein that you get in this much chicken, for the same amount of protein you might have to eat this much of dal which is not possible to eat.
Amrita: -A lot of vegetarians take protein supplements as well because they are aware that they do not get much protein from their diet and it’s easier to get it from protein powder because it comes in a concentrated form.
To fulfill the deficiency of protein, a lot of people take protein supplements in the country. I would like to tell you a shocking fact regarding this as well. A 2015 study revealed that 60-70% of dietary supplements consumed by people in the entire country are fake and unapproved.
Whenever you are buying a protein supplement then be aware as to how you can recognize whether the product is authentic or not. Be mindful of the packaging.
- Look at texts on the packaging and the labels?
- Is written clearly or not or are there any grammatical mistakes?
- Is the logo on the package correctly placed or there are any mistakes with the logo. Quite often, fake products and logos have a lot of mistakes. You can easily make it out.
- Additionally, you should always buy from a reputable brand and from their website. Not like you are buying from Amazon because anyone can sell a fake product there.
- If you buy a product from a brand’s website then you will most surely get an original product. This would be guaranteed.
4. Zinc Deficiencies
After protein, next is Zinc deficiency. Gujarat, Manipur, Punjab and Meghalaya have the highest percentage of Zinc deficiency. Almost 50% of children in the age group 10-19 have a Zinc deficiency. The best states in this regard are Nagaland, Mizoram and Haryana. Zinc deficiency can result in hair loss and diarrhoea.
Amrita: -So, Zinc is also…it is very interesting that you asked this question and that it showed up in the test results. Zinc is most commonly found in our food such as nuts (almonds, walnuts), pulses (dal, beans, rajma, chole), and grains (wheat, rice). Zinc deficiency is mostly found in people who have switched to a drastic diet and eliminates many things from their diet.
Amrita: -Zinc deficiency is more likely to be seen in such people. So, if you are eating a balanced diet then we will get the Zinc from the food itself.
Dhruv: -So you are recommending that one should eat a balanced diet if there is Zinc deficiency?
Amrita: -For Zinc, yes!
Next is Vitamin A deficiency.
5. Vitamin A Deficiencies
It’s the lowest percentage is in Rajasthan, Sikkim, and Goa. It is highest in Mizoram and Jharkhand.
Amrita: -So, Vitamin A is like Iron. The body absorbs it much more when it comes from non-vegetarian food. It is found mostly in animal food such as eggs, milk as well as in all animal meats. As for vegetarian options, it is found in colorful vegetables such as red capsicum, carrots, yellow capsicum. All the colors are red, yellow, orange…
Dhruv: -Yes… colorful fruits and vegetables.
Amrita: -So, fresh fruits…yes! Vegetables, when consumed in the cooked form, will have more absorption of Vitamin A because Vitamin A is such a nutrient that dissolves in fat.
6. Vitamin D Deficiencies
Next is the deficiency of Vitamin D. It is one of the only deficiencies which is found more in the rich and urban population as compared to the poor. This is because they stay less out in the sun. Sunlight is the source of Vitamin D.
In fact, it is one deficiency that I too have. I take supplements for the same. State-wise- Assam, Tamil Nadu, Meghalaya, and Nagaland have the lowest deficiency while Punjab, Uttarakhand, and Manipur have the highest.
Amrita: -So, in vegetarian food… Mushroom is one such vegetable that is quite rich in Vitamin D. Another strategy is eggs. Eggs have Vitamin D content. Animal products have Vitamin D. Milk may have some Vitamin D but not a lot. What happens in the West is that in countries like the US is that dairy products are fortified with Vitamin D before being sold.
So they generally add it in milk. Overall, leaving aside deficiencies, there is another great comparison that has been made in this report: which state consumes which food group and in how much quantity. Where are people eating less of what food?
It is interesting to observe that. Haryana tops in Milk and curd. They are also given to children in good quantities in Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat. Chattisgarh, Mizoram, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and Jharkhand are placed at the bottom. The different comparisons that I am showing you of the food groups do not mean that if you live in these states then you should consume more of it.
It is quite likely you might be consuming less milk and curd and more meat and therefore your dietary requirements get fulfilled anyway. These are generally such food groups that are the main components of your diet and if it is being consumed less in your state then I would recommend you to eat more of it so that your diet is more balanced and varied.
Pulses and beans score well in Tamil Nadu, Odisha, and Maharashtra while Mizoram, Meghalaya, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh fall quite far behind in consuming them. Green leafy vegetables score quite low in Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, and Tripura so if you live in these states then maybe you should concentrate on consuming green leafy vegetables.
Fruits are consumed in abundance in Goa, Delhi, Kerala, Tamil Nadu while Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chattisgarh score quite low here.
Although I would say that this chart could have a relation with poverty because poor people do not have money to buy fruits, Therefore, the states with higher rates of poverty rank here at the bottom.
Root and tubers fall behind in Punjab, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh. These are vegetables that grow under the soil such as potato and Radish. For the rest of the vegetables, Punjab, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh score quite low. So, people living in these states need to eat vegetables a lot. Telangana, Tamil Nadu, and Odisha are performing quite well.
Dhruv: -People consume less vegetables and more roti and rice. This is what you have noticed?
Amrita: -Yes, yes. Compared to the amount of roti and rice people consume, the quantity of vegetables is far lesser.
Vegetables: double the quantity of roti or rice
Generally, what the norm should be is vegetables should be double the quantity of roti or rice that you consume. But the opposite is always true. We consume more quantity of rice and the quantity of vegetables is less.
Chicken and meat are obviously consumed less in vegetarian states. Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu feature at the top here. This is something I would like to say is not necessary as I am myself a vegetarian.
It is possible to meet your dietary requirements without consuming chicken and meat. It is a little difficult but it is possible. You can do so by consuming more dairy. If you do not want to consume dairy and become vegan then it becomes a little more difficult yet it is possible.
A similar trend is seen for fish and eggs. Kerala, Goa, Assam, and West Bengal consume fish the most. Rajasthan, Punjab, and Haryana which are vegetarian states always feature at the bottom.
Hopefully, friends that you found this article on “Nutrition Deficiency in India” to be informative. Share it with your friends and family so that everyone gets to know what could be lacking in their diet and what you should eat in order to meet your dietary requirements and maintain your nutrition. This is very important.
Thank you so much.