Micronutrient Malnutrition and Biofortification: Recent Advances and Future Perspectives

Abdul Wakeel, Muhammad Farooq, Khurram Bashir, Levent Ozturk

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

65 Citations (Scopus)


Micronutrients malnutrition is of great public health importance in several parts of the world, especially the developing and underdeveloped countries. It has been estimated that about 2 billion people, about one third of the world's population, are deficient in one or more mineral elements. Although required in traces, these mineral elements are involved in many vital metabolic functions. Micronutrient deficiencies in humans can be remedied through food diversification, mineral supplementation, food fortification, and biofortification. Biofortification is the strategy of increasing the content of bioavailable nutrients in the edible parts of staple food crops for better human nutrition. Staple crops such as maize, rice, and wheat provide most of the calories for low-income families around the globe. However, staple crop-based diets fall far short in providing the required amounts of micronutrients and heavy reliance on staple food is the root cause of micronutrient malnutrition. Biofortification includes the enhanced uptake of such minerals from soils, their transport to edible plant parts, and improving the bioavailability of these minerals. International initiatives have recently released several plant cultivars with increased bioavailable micronutrient concentrations in their edible parts. The use of these biofortified cultivars is expected to mitigate micronutrient malnourishment in large populations especially in Africa. Crop breeding, genetic manipulation, and application of mineral fertilizers are the bases of biofortification strategies and have enormous potential to address micronutrient malnourishment. In this chapter, crop biofortification for zinc, iron, vitamin A, and iodine has been discussed. Biofortification is a proven strategy to combat micronutrient deficiency in large populations, particularly for those living in developing countries. However, to make it more effective, efficient, and acceptable for people, better planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of biofortification programs are needed to produce cost-effective and socially acceptable biofortified food crops. Food safety, quality assurance, and legal framework also need to be considered while developing any biofortification strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPlant Micronutrient Use Efficiency
Subtitle of host publicationMolecular and Genomic Perspectives in Crop Plants
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780128122433
ISBN (Print)9780128121047
Publication statusPublished - Mar 27 2018


  • Biofortification
  • Food fortification
  • Malnutrition
  • Mineral uptake
  • Staple crops
  • Toxic elements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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