Jeff Markel, managing director of Vitamin Angels, stopped by the NFM offices today to give our staff a “sense of the soul” of the nonprofit’s work. As the images of children and moms receiving essential vitamins appeared on the presentation screen, I couldn’t help but get caught up in the spirit of the cause. This year, Vitamin Angels will work in more than 40 countries, reaching 10 million children with high-dose vitamin A distributions.
Why is vitamin A so important for children?
Markel said that vitamin A ranks among the top four reasons why 20 million children died last year of preventable diseases. The other causes include lack of breast feeding in the first six months of life, lack of immunizations and lack of malaria medications. According to Markel, vitamin A cuts overall child mortality by 23 percent.
“Most of us take vitamins as supplements to our diet,” Markel said. “In developing countries, it’s more than that. It’s life or death.”
Markel then showed an African woman holding her 14-month-old grandchild. The baby weighed just 6 pounds. To put this in perspective, babies born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces are considered low birthweight and are at increased risk for serious health problems, disabilities and even death. The sickly child in the photo was just a few ounces heavier than what’s considered a healthy birthweight, yet she was more than a year old. The next photo showed the same child a year later. She didn’t look like the same girl. She appeared strong. She had a healthy glow. The difference: She had been taking multivitamins.
How can you help Vitamin Angels reach its goal of eliminating vitamin-A deficiency by the year 2020?
Supplement manufacturers can make product donations to Vitamin Angels.
Individuals can contribute cash dollars. Markel said that as little as 25 cents can significantly improve the life of a child.