Micro nutrients like Vitamin A and iron could be included in people's daily meals by adding them to products like powdered spices, fish sauce or cooking oil, to reduce the deficiency of micro nutrients in Vietnam's population.

The move is part of a 2.2 million USD project launched on August 17 by the Ministry of Health's National Institute for Nutrition (NIN).

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition funded the project to ensure that the populace gets enough Vitamin A, zinc and iron and other minerals in their daily intake by adding essential micro nutrients to food products.

"Micro nutrient deficiency is one of the major problems to affect the community at the moment. Adding micro nutrients to food is a way we prevent a significant micro nutrient deficiency in the community," said NIN Director Le Thi Hop.

Under the project, food companies will be helped to produce products like fish sauce, soya sauce, cooking oil and powdered spices, fortified with essential micro nutrients such as vitamin A, iron and zinc, during the period 2012-17.

Health experts believe that by targeting rural, mountainous and urban areas, these products could help improve micro nutrient deficiencies in communities around the country.

The project will also be supported by the companies Tuong An Vegetable Oil and Unilever Vietnam, who will advise and oversee the nutrients being added to a range of foods.

The project will also focus on ways of strengthening the community's awareness of the importance of nutrients and encourage people to use these fortified products.

A national nutrition survey in 2010 showed an alarming rate of micro nutrient deficiency among mothers and children.

A lack of iron was found in 36.5 percent of pregnant women and more than 29 percent of children under-five in Vietnam.

Vitamin A and iodine deficiencies are also still high in the community, especially in the north-west region and the central-Central Highlands region.-VNA