“The essence of global health equity is the idea that something so precious as health might be viewed as a right.” – Dr Paul Farmer
To many of us in the UK, good health is considered a right and not a privilege, but to others across the world this simply is not the case. To people in areas of poverty and conflict, a good diet is a constant struggle that leads to malnutrition and, in all too many cases, premature death. Here at Huel we strongly believe in giving back and feel we must do as much as we can to help those most in need. We have teamed up with the charity, Vitamin Angels, to get to the forefront of the fight against malnutrition. We are proud to say that this year we will be donating enough to provide vitamin A to over 32,000 children for an entire year. A proportion of every sale of Huel goes directly to Vitamin Angels to aid this incredible and life changing cause.
Who are they?
“I truly believe Vitamin Angels came into being to give children and mothers the chance to lead meaningful, healthy and productive lives.”
– Howard Schiffer, President and Founder, Vitamin Angels
Vitamin Angels is a US-based charity that provides lifesaving vitamins to mothers and children under five at risk of malnutrition – reducing preventable illness, blindness and death – to create a healthier world. This year, Vitamin Angels is working to reach over 48 million children and mothers in more than 50 countries worldwide.
We believe in the power of vitamins.
The first 1,000 days of life is the most critical window for a child’s growth and development but 5.9 million children under the age of five died in 2015. Of all these preventable child deaths, 45% were linked to undernutrition . When roughly 30% of the global population doesn't have access to national health and nutrition services, something needs to be done. Children under five and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are the most vulnerable to undernutrition caused by a lack of micronutrients .
Undernutrition, also known as “hidden hunger”, occurs when individuals consume enough calories to survive, but the foods they are eating lack adequate nutritional value. Undernutrition has a variety of causes and can affect families in any country. Poverty, food insecurity, lack of opportunity, limited resources and even political instability can impact a child’s or mother’s nutritional status.
Making vitamins available to undernourished children is one of the most immediate and cost-effective ways to improve their health . Vitamin Angels is working to combat hidden hunger through a comprehensive approach that starts with vitamin supplementation and includes support for breastfeeding, deworming, nutritional education and more.
Read the full extent of their impact here.
- Vitamin A is one of five micronutrients critical for growth and development, including boosting immune function and good eye health; deficiency can result in severe eye lesions (xerophthalmia) and complete blindness (keratomalacia) .
- Prenatal vitamins are critical for the mothers Vitamin Angels serve to have safe and healthy pregnancies, and for their children to have healthy starts to life.
- By pairing deworming treatments with vitamin A supplementation, worms are eliminated from a child’s system, which also allows for increased absorption of vitamin A.
Read more about this below.
© Matt Dayka/Vitamin Angels HT14
How do they do it?
1. Planning and Preparation
- Identify and evaluate the global need.
- Vet and qualify the localised non-profit organisations that will distribute the vitamins.
- Procure vitamins, ensure the quality of the product and coordinate shipments.
2. Reaching Populations in Need
- Work with local, non-profit organisations to distribute vitamins.
- Monitor and evaluate results with regular check-ins, reports and recommendations.
3. Sustainable Development
- Set up a foundation for long-lasting impact.
- Establish local funding and management.
- Build local supply and distribution system for vitamins.
How does Huel fit in?
Huel is proud to say that we will be donating the equivalent of giving 32,000 children enough vitamin A for an entire year. A proportion of every sale we make will go directly to Vitamin Angels to aid this fantastic cause.
1. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is essential for vision in dim light, and prolonged deficiency results in night blindness, but 150 million children don’t get the vitamin A they need. The body cannot produce vitamin A, and for children in developing countries, deficiency can also result in severe eye lesions (xerophthalmia) and complete blindness (keratomalacia) . If this essential nutrient is lacking while children are still developing, they can get sick and even die.
Other symptoms include:
- Immunity – Weakening of the immune system.
- Hair – Thin, brittle or lightening hair is common for children without the vitamin A necessary for healthy hair.
- Growth – Children are often short for their age (permanently stunted) as vitamin A is critical for proper growth.
- Vision – Children may have compromised vision or complete blindness because vitamin A is essential for healthy eyes.
- Skin – Dry, flaky skin occurs when vitamin A isn't available for children to maintain healthy skin.
While the symptoms are not always visible, vitamin A deficiency puts the health and survival of children at risk every day. The vitamin A supplements Vitamin Angels supply work to strengthen immune systems and fight off life-threatening illnesses for children who don’t have access to foods with vitamin A. Vitamin A is stored in the liver and slow-released over time, which means children only need one dose every six months. Two doses a year of this powerhouse nutrient combat the devastating effects of vitamin A deficiency.
2. Prenatal Vitamins
Throughout, and even before and after pregnancy, nutrition is absolutely vital to the health and safety of both mother and child. Poorly nourished pregnant mothers may give birth to stillborn or small babies, or babies with low birth weights. Poor nutrition during pregnancy can cause complications during childbirth that may endanger the lives of both mother and child. Prenatal vitamins help a mother’s body to support the growth and development of her baby in the womb.
After birth, a mother’s breast milk provides all the nutrition necessary to keep her baby growing strong. But malnourished mothers often have difficulty producing adequate breast milk to feed their babies. Vitamins aid mothers in producing plentiful and nutritious breast milk. Breastfeeding also provides additional health benefits for the mother, including helping her body recover from childbirth more quickly.
These prenatal vitamins contain an array of different nutrients:
- Folate - this supports brain and spine development.
- Vitamin A - Helps fight against infection and boosts iron metabolism and haemoglobin production as well as influencing vitamin A levels in breast milk.
- Iron - Prevents anaemia in pregnancy and increases blood supply to the baby by carrying oxygen and key nutrients to the baby via the placenta.
- Iodine - Ensures proper thyroid functioning and prevents stunting, mental delays and deafness in infants. Iodine deficiency can lead to miscarriage and stillbirth.
Worms contribute to malnutrition in children by stealing the nutrients a child ingests, and 266 million children are at risk of getting worms. By deworming children with tablets like albendazole, Vitamin Angels are improving their ability to get the nutrients they need to survive and thrive.
Children infected by worms often do not exhibit visible signs or symptoms, but the internal symptoms are just as debilitating.
- Fatigue and lethargy.
- Inability to properly absorb vitamins.
- Abdominal pain and distention.
- Increased susceptibility to illness and disease.
Vitamin Angels are reaching 22 million children globally with deworming tablets.
4. Promotion of Breastfeeding Practices
In combination with vitamins, Vitamin Angels promote nutritional education with tools and materials to ensure good health is long-lasting.
 World Health Organization (WHO). (2016). Children: reducing mortality. Available: www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs178/en/. Last accessed 22nd June 2016.
 WHO. (2007). Preventing and controlling micronutrient deficiencies in populations affected by an emergency. Available: www.who.int/nutrition/publications/WHO_WFP_UNICEFstatement.pdf. Last accessed 28th June 2016.
 Copenhagen Consensus. (2008). Copenhagen Consensus 2008 – Results. Available: www.copenhagenconsensus.com/sites/default/files/cc08_results_final_0.pdf
 Food Standards Agency. (2008). Manual of Nutrition. 11th ed. Norwich: TSO. p58.