Why We Exist

Addressing the Cycle of Malnutrition

Malnutrition Threatens Global Health

Every day, malnutrition puts the health, well-being, and futures of more than 3 billion people around the world at risk.

Good nutrition is critical for maintaining good health. When a person does not receive sufficient nutrients from the foods they eat, malnutrition occurs. Malnutrition has serious, immediate, long-term, and intergenerational impacts.

When the Cycle of Malnutrition Begins

Most often, the cycle of malnutrition starts with pregnancy. When malnourished, pregnant women are more likely to experience anemia, which can result in serious pregnancy complications, including maternal and child death. Infants born to malnourished mothers may be born too small or too soon, both of which increase the risk of early death. Additionally, poor nutrition during the critical first 1,000 days can cause irreversible damage to a child’s growing brain, affecting their ability to do well in school and earn a good living—and making it harder for a child and their family to rise out of poverty. It can also set the stage for future chronic diseases which can lead to a lifetime of health problems.

Vitamin Angels' First 1000 Days infographic.
The vital first 1,000 days window – from pregnancy through age two – is particularly critical to increasing child survival, improving growth and development, and ensuring positive health outcomes for the mother, and significant nutrition vulnerability persists until a child turns 5.

Causes of Malnutrition During Pregnancy 

2 in 3 women of reproductive age worldwide have micronutrient deficiencies.*

The physical demands of pregnancy and fetal growth create increased nutritional needs which often cannot be met through diet alone. This is especially true in underserved communities, particularly in settings where food insecurity or food shortages are common. In these low-resource environments, pregnant women regularly receive the least in terms of diet, supplementation, and health care.

Malnutrition During Early Childhood

Nutrition-related factors contribute to about 45% of deaths among children under five years old.

Without access to food and proper nutrition, children are more likely to develop more slowly and suffer from all forms of malnutrition — overweight and obesity, micronutrient deficiencies, and undernutrition, including wasting and stunting — all of which have serious lifelong implications. 

Additionally, a child’s brain develops faster compared to any other time in their life. Lack of nutrition during this stage can also lead to worsened health, trouble learning, and behavioral problems as they grow.

Proper Nutrition During the First 1,000 Days Has Lasting Impacts

The first 1,000 days (from pregnancy through age two) is a critical period when maternal, infant and young child nutrition is vital to child survival, promoting optimal child growth and development, and ensuring positive health outcomes. When pregnant women have access to healthy food, they have healthier, full-term pregnancies, and their newborns are more likely to survive their first year and be on track for optimal growth and development. When signs of malnutrition are alleviated, children’s immune systems can fight illness, they grow strong, and they do better in school. As children grow, the benefits of improved nutrition carry on throughout their lives and beyond, breaking the Intergenerational Cycles of Poverty and Inequity.

Vitamin Angels Addresses the Cycle of Malnutrition by Increasing Access to Nutrition Interventions

Cycle of Malnutrition

Vitamin Angels Addresses the Cycle of Malnutrition by Increasing Access to Nutrition Interventions

Vitamin Angels strives for a world where every mother has a healthy pregnancy, and every child gets an equal chance at a healthy life.

We focus on nutritionally vulnerable populations during the first 1,000 days, when we can positively impact maternal nutrition and fetal growth, infant and young child morbidity and mortality, and ultimately break the cycle of malnutrition. 

The essential nutrition solutions we offer can help support healthy pregnancies, improve birth outcomes, reduce infant and maternal mortality, protect young children from debilitating childhood infections, improve cognition and social-emotional functioning and academic performance, and increase earnings across a lifetime. We believe that everyone deserves access to the knowledge, support, and resources needed to eliminate malnutrition. That is why, in addition to nutrition solutions, we provide program partners with educational materials designed to encourage positive behavior change, technical assistance, and advocacy support.

Help Vitamin Angels to End the Cycle of Malnutrition

Be a part of our community where every day millions of mothers and children get a chance at a healthy start. Everyone is welcome and everyone is needed.

Become a Corporate Partner

Our partnerships with purpose-driven corporate partners offer companies the opportunity to make a meaningful impact by advancing our mission.


Become a Program Partner

We are committed to strengthening, extending, and amplifying the impact of our program partners, who are already working to reach pregnant women, infants, and young children.


* Source: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(22)00367-9/fulltext