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Fortified fish sauce offers good nutrition for mothers and children

Harold Mandel's picture
Fish with fish sauce

Researchers have found fish sauce provides mothers and young children in Cambodia with better nutrition.


Good nutrition is vital for good health in body and mind. Researchers have found vitamin fortified fish sauce is a good source of needed nutrition for mothers and children in Cambodia.

Fish sauce has surfaced as a good way to give mothers and children in Cambodia better nutrition

The University of Adelaide reports that there is actually nothing fishy about improved nutrition for mothers and their babies. Fish sauce has surfaced as a good way to give mothers and children in Cambodia better nutrition according to researchers from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and the University of Adelaide.

A deficiency of thiamine can cause beriberi

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The researchers, made up of Professor Tim Green, Principal Nutritionist within SAHMRI’s Healthy Mothers, Babies and Children theme and Affiliate Professor, Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide, and his associates, were searching for ways to improve the intake of thiamine (vitamin B1) of mothers and children between the ages of 1-5 years in Southeast Asia. Thiamine deficiency is very common in Cambodia and throughout Southeast Asia. A deficiency of thiamine can cause a disease which is called beriberi.

Thiamine deficient babies can die within 24 hours

Beriberi is a very serious problem for babies with thiamine deficient mothers because this vitamin is low in the breastmilk of the mothers. Beriberi comes on rapidly with symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea and a hoarse cry. If thiamine is not given to deficient babies they can die within 24 hours.

Thiamine fortified fish sauce has potential to improve dietary thiamine intake

Professor Green and his research team decided to fortify fish sauce with thiamine to deal with this problem in Cambodia where fish sauce is very popular. This thiamine fortified fish sauce was very well accepted by families in Cambodia and it improved blood markers of the status of thiamine. Professor Green sees thiamine fortified fish sauce as having the potential of becoming a simple, inexpensive, and sustainable way to improve dietary thiamine intake and prevent deficiency of thiamine in Cambodia.

This study has been published in The Journal of Pediatrics. Researchers found that the consumption of thiamine fortified fish sauce in Cambodian households increased erythrocyte thiamine concentrations in rural Cambodian women and their young children. The fortification of fish sauce seems to be a good way to deal with the serious problem of thiamine deficiency in mothers and their children in Cambodia. Thiamine fortified fish sauce may also serve as a good source of this important vitamin elsewhere.