One thing unites us no matter where we live or how much money we make, and that's a desire to be both happy and healthy.
What's cool about that is, no matter your age, background, or the region where we reside, we all need many of the same vitamins. And how exciting is it knowing you can do your part to make sure others — and you — get what we need to reach optimum health?
Click on any of the photos above to learn about the unique vitamin needs of boys, girls, women, and men all over the world. Though they may differ, we can each learn how we can work toward our individual and common goal of living happy and healthy lives.
Metrin is a 3-year-old living on a small island in the middle of Lake Victoria, Uganda, with her mother, Evaline, and sisters, Gloria and Rose. Gloria is 6 years old and Rose is just 3 months. On the island they inhabit, agriculture is very limited, and many families like theirs are only able to eat cassava, a carbohydrate-heavy shrub, along with rice, maize, and potatoes.
Due to her limited diet, Metrin misses key nutrients, such as vitamin A. According to Health.com, vitamin A appears naturally in sweet potatoes (botanically unrelated to potatoes), spinach, fish, milk, eggs, and carrots, none of which Metrin has access to.
Fortunately, she is happy and healthy as she receives a dosage vitamin A every six months through Vitamin Angels, a nonprofit that distributes vitamins and minerals to children and mothers in need.
It is especially important she receive this, considering that as recently as 2012, vitamin A deficiency has been estimated to account for 600,000 deaths a year among children under 5. In Uganda alone, an estimated 28 percent of children are vitamin A deficient.
Vitamin A is critical to the immune system, sight, and skin.
Metrin's mother Evaline believes the vitamin A her daughter receives helps strengthen her immune system, increases her appetite and gives her more energy. Like any young child, she needs the freedom to run around, play, and explore her surroundings. Without a healthy intake of vitamin A, not only would Metrin's eyesight and immune system be at risk, but indeed her entire livelihood.
Nutrient deficiency is often discussed via the direct impact it has to one's health, and rightfully so, but it's also important to consider how those symptoms trickle down and affect a person's ability to perform daily activities. According to Babycenter.com, Vitamin A is crucial for developing strong vision, bone growth, and cell growth, particularly those in the hair, nails, and skin. According to Babycenter.com, Vitamin A is crucial for developing strong vision, bone growth, and cell growth, particularly those in the hair, nails, and skin.
Would Metrin be healthy and happy if her eyesight deteriorated and immune system began to fail? As recent UNICEF data notes, vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable childhood blindness and increases the risk of death from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhea. It's not just that blindness would make it hard for Metrin to play — it would be the precursor to a much more troubling outcome that would affect hear health and happiness in the future.
Keep in mind that Metrin is not the only person who needs vitamin A. Seven-year-old Shundori from India and 34-year-old Ryan from New York also need it. Click on Shundori and Ryan's photos, highlighted in blue, to find out how they are connected by their vitamin need, or explore the rest of the profiles below.
Want to help people around the world get access to vitamins? For every purchase of vitamins and minerals at Walgreens, they will make a donation to Vitamin Angels.
Statements about vitamin deficiencies, the benefits of vitamin A and recommended doses are not endorsed by or representative of opinions from Vitamin Angels.
Vitamin Angels Photos © Matt Dayka/Vitamin Angels