Tiny amounts of micronutrients can set kids in poverty up for success.
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Gates Foundation: The Story of Food

You know what's highly underrated?

Micronutrients.

Small but mighty, micronutrients deserve a big round of applause for helping you become the person you are today.


Micronutrients — a range of vitamins and minerals like iron, vitamin A, and calcium — are crucial for growth and well-being, especially during pregnancy and the first few years of life. The best part about them is that micronutrients are effective in super small quantities. I suppose that explains the whole "micro" part of their name.  

For many of us, micronutrients like iron, iodine, and vitamin A, are part of everyday life. But that's not the case for everyone.

Micronutrients are everywhere in the Western world: in fruit juices, vegetables, fortified foods, and over the counter supplements. We have store aisles completely dedicated to vitamins and minerals. They are so prevalent in our culture, we often don't give them a second thought.

But that's not the reality for over 2 billion people in the world.  

At least half of children worldwide ages 6 months to 5 years aren't getting enough micronutrients — and it's wreaking havoc on global progress.

Image via hdptcar/Flickr.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 million babies are born mentally impaired because of maternal iodine deficiency. Iron deficiency during pregnancy is associated with 115,000 deaths each year. And the Micronutrient Initiative says that vitamin A deficiency claims the lives of almost 670,000 children under 5 and causes up to half a million children to become blind each year.

Those statistics are nothing but jarring, but they can easily be reduced. We know because we've already seen promising results.

Take iodized salt, for example. You may have some in your kitchen right now. The iodization of salt is considered to be one of the world's simplest and most cost-effective measures to prevent iodine deficiency. In 1990, only about 20% of the world’s households had access to it, according to the Salt Institute. Today that access is more than 70%.

IQ is shown to be on average 13 points higher in places with adequate iodine intake than in those that are iodine deficient.

By adding micronutrients like iodine, vitamin A, folic acid, and iron to staple crops, communities have a better shot at reducing anemia and birth defects in their newborns.

Supplements are another way. Providing young children with vitamin A supplementation every six months has the ability to reduce mortality by an average of 23%, says the Micronutrient Initiative.

A greater focus on micronutrients is a cost-effective way to keep kids healthy and break the cycle of poverty.

It's a win-win, and organizations, governments, and creative minds are catching on. Social enterprise groups are also taking on the challenge. Lucky Iron Fish, for example, has changed the way families around the world receive their daily iron requirements. By boiling a fish-looking tool made of iron next to other ingredients in a pot, dinner becomes healthier — and so do the people eating it.  

And, of course, education is key. The need to educate and change the type of food being consumed in order for it to make the biggest nutritional impact plays a vital role.

When people don't have access to the vitamins and minerals they need, they can't develop to their full potential. Giving newborns a better shot at life gives future generations a better one too. It's perhaps the best way to break the cycle of poverty — for good.

Do your part to help stop child malnutrition: Sign the petition to call on President-elect Trump to fully implement the Global Food Security Act.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

This article originally appeared on 10.05.15


Last week, a fan of the Scottish synthpop band Chvrches got a bit more than he bargained for when he yelled to the stage.

"Marry me!" an unidentified man yelled out during a pause between songs.

"Pardon?" Chvrches singer Lauren Mayberry responded, prompting the man to shout out, "Marry me! Now!"

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