By Dr. Kaycee Reyes

In the Philippines, micronutrient deficiency is more common than you think. The Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) defines Micronutrient Malnutrition as a “condition resulting of supply to the tissues of micronutrients, notably vitamin A, iron, and iodine, arising from a deficiency in the diet, losses from the body, or improper utilization of food.” Simply put, micronutrient deficiency is when you’re not getting enough nutrients in your body.

There may be several reasons that make you deficient. First is your diet and lifestyle—maybe you’re not eating as well or as healthy as you want to, or perhaps you still can’t quit your daily cigarette habit or those Friday night drinks. Second is you need more nutrients than usual, like if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, going through a lot of stress, or in the case of children, their constant growth means more nutrients needed. Thirdly, there are also disorders, such as diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, and the like, that need specific nutrients in order for your body to keep up with your condition. And as you age, just like everyone, your needs will change, your eating and fitness habits may change with them, and so there’s a whole new slew of nutrients that you need in order to age well.

But since you’re able to go about your daily routine, isn’t that enough indication that you’re healthy? Not necessarily—micronutrient deficiency can affect just about anyone, and can be life threatening. Iron deficiency is one of the most common deficiency there is, and according to the World Health Organization, it affects two billion people—that’s 30 percent of the world’s population!

Women who don’t receive enough nutrients can affect the health of their babies, and children who are deficient as children tend to be deficient, oftentimes either underweight, stunted growth, or overweight for their height, as they grow up. Men are also greatly affected by this, with lifestyle diseases and conditions brought about by their diet and sedentary lifestyle. Our Department of Health (DoH) also says that micronutrient deficiency also affects our economic productivity, growth, and national development. According to their micronutrient program, they state that being anemic or having an iron deficiency decreases the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by two percent per year.

Luckily, there are different ways to address micronutrient deficiency. Eating a balanced diet with the daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables will always do your body good, no matter how old you are or what your current health condition may be. Avoiding vices—drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes, among others—will also dramatically affect your health for the better. And not just newborns and babies benefit from a little time out in the sun—vitamin D comes for free when you get some sun; just make sure to head out early in the morning. Vitamin A and iron can be found in capsule form, and grabbing food that is fortified with vitamin A, iron, or iodine would be helpful.

There are also specific medicines that aim to prevent diseases that are related to your diet or chronic degenerative and inflammatory conditions. There are also medicines that improve your metabolism, and act as anti-aging agents. If you’re pregnant, talk to your doctor about how to eat right for two, and what vitamins and nutrients need to be amped up for your little one to grow healthy and well. If you wish to know if you’re suffering from micronutrient deficiency, consult with your doctor and talk about the current status of your health and lifestyle, and then take it from there. There are tests that you can take to figure out if you’re anemic or deficient in other nutrients. Because at the end of the day, even if you do know your body better than anyone else and think you can simply buy the vitamins and nutrients off the shelf, getting an expert opinion from your trusted physician (and a second opinion!) will lead you down a more specific, more directed path to health, and that path will last longer, and with hope, for a lifetime.

THE Department of Science and Technology- Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI) will conduct within the year a research project on forest vines that can be used for handicraft production in Bicol.

The project intends to help local vine artisans find new sources of raw materials

The project, “Biological Studies of Economically Important Forest Vines in Camarines Sur and Albay Provinces,” will determine the volume and location of significant forest vines in the Bicol region. It will also study the factors affecting their natural growth and regeneration.

Jennifer Conda of the Forest Products Research and Development Institute of DOST explained that “The supply of raw materials for handicraft production cannot rely on natural regeneration. Nursery or plantation establishment is necessary to support the needs of the handicraft industry.”

“This study will also evaluate the nutritional requirement, preferred environmental condition and appropriate propagation techniques of forest vines,” Conda noted.

Conda also pointed out that forest vines are among the least studied plant groups despite their promising use as raw materials for handcrafted items. Propagation and use of these materials for handicraft production can be an added source of income particularly for rural and forest dwellers.

The three-year project will be funded by the DOST-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development.

Celso Amo (The Philippine Star)

LEGAZPI CITY , Philippines  — Local and disaster officials were alerted yesterday on the possible onslaught of lahar around Mayon Volcano after a low-pressure area was spotted. 

The low-pressure area was located 650 kilometers east-southeast of this city. 

“Lahar is now a permanent threat  to communities around the volcano due to new and old  pyroclastic deposits,” Renato Solidum, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology director, said.

Solidum said around  53.5 million cubic meters of pyroclastic materials have been extruded by the volcano since Jan. 13. 

“We also have to monitor the volcano’s eruptions due to a large supply of new magma that is moving toward the crater,” he  said. 

He said lava extrusion has reached 4.5 kilometers and 3.2 kilometers in the Bonga and Miisi gullies, respectively. 

Solidum said they are also checking if there are lava flows in the Basud channel.

Sporadic to near-continuous lava fountaining, lava flows and degassing from the crater that generated steam-laden ash plumes that reached up to four hundred meters were observed in the past 24 hours.  

On Monday night, lava flows and rockfalls were observed in the Miisi and Bonga-Buyuan channels. 

A total 116 volcanic earthquakes, most of which corresponded to lava fountaining and accompanied by rumbling sounds, were recorded by Mayon’s seismic monitoring network. 

High-quality relief goods

Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) lauded the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for ensuring the high quality of relief goods distributed to Mayon evacuees.  

The CHR said the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement mandates that humanitarian assistance shall be carried out in accordance with international human rights laws, including the distribution of relief goods that are safe to eat. 

DSWD officer-in-charge Emmanuel Leyco assured Mayon evacuees that food items distributed to them are not expired. 

Leyco said they would immediately act on complaints on disaster response protocols. 

He said relief operations would continue as long as there are families staying in evacuation centers and until evacuees return to their homes as part of the recovery phase.

“We have a plan in place…to support evacuees for 100 days and afterwards,” Leyco said.


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