Micronutrient deficiencies continue to be a major public health concern worldwide with many South Asian countries suffering a significant proportion of the global burden. A lack of nationally representative data on micronutrient deficiencies hampers sustained action to address the problem. Using data on the national food supply produced by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, and international food composition tables, the present study estimated the prevalence of inadequacy of seven micronutrients (vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, folate, vitamin B-12, zinc and calcium) in seven South Asian countries--Bangladesh, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The estimated average requirement cut-point method was employed to determine the likelihood of inadequate micronutrient intakes. We report multiple micronutrient inadequacies in the food supply in the region, especially in the low and lower-middle income countries. Of the seven micronutrients investigated, calcium had the highest risk levels of inadequacy. Folate, riboflavin, vitamin B-12 and zinc were also deemed to be at high risk of inadequacy, although results differed markedly between countries. Various strategies to combat micronutrient deficiencies are currently underway in these countries. In order to facilitate the implementation of these efforts, the collection of nationally representative nutritional assessment survey data are urgently required to ascertain the true burden of micronutrient malnutrition.

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