Vitamin Angels

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Vitamin Angels
Vitamin Angels.(logo).png
Motto Essential nutrients, healthy children. [1]
Founded 1994; 23 years ago (1994)
California, U.S.
Founder Howard Schiffer
Type Non-profit
Fields Child nutrition

Vitamin Angels is a non-profit, non-governmental organization focused on bringing essential nutrition to children around the world through vitamin supplementation.


Vitamin Angels states that its mission is to mobilize and deploy private sector resources to advance availability, access and use of micronutrients, especially vitamin A, by newborns, infants and children in need.[1]

Vitamin Angels aims to reduce child mortality worldwide by connecting essential micronutrients, especially vitamin A, with infants and children under five. Essential micronutrients enables the immune system to fight infectious diseases and may help to prevent childhood diseases. Vitamin A deficiency in particular can lead to blindness, stunting and a deficient immune system.


According to his biography, founder and President Howard Schiffer worked in the natural products industry for many years. He apparently launched a number of "nationally recognized brands", although these are not listed.[2] After the 1994 Northridge earthquake in California, Schiffer was asked to donate vitamins to victims. As a result of this experience, Schiffer realized the capabilities of vitamin supplements in providing vital nutrition. He started Vitamin Angels in 1994. It is now an international charity working in 50 countries with 800 field partners.[3]

Micronutrient deficiencies and supplementation[edit]

It is a large misconception that severe malnutrition is caused by not getting enough to eat.[citation needed] Often the issue lies in not getting the right micronutrients. New York Times Op-Ed columnist Nicholas Kristof calls this the "hidden hunger".[4] Approximately 670,000 children under the age of five die due to lack of vitamin A in their diets every year.[5] Children who are micronutient deficient do not have the proper nutrition necessary to develop a proper immune system and bodily function, leaving them more susceptible to disease and overall mortality.

Micronutrient supplementation has received the support and attention of top global health experts and organizations, including the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the Copenhagen Consensus. Studies show that for deficient children, the periodic supply of high-dose vitamin A has resulted in reducing mortality by 23%.[6] The 2008 Copenhagen Consensus, a panel of world class economists, analyzed cost-effective solutions to the world's ten biggest challenges. They ranked micronutrient supplementation for children as the #1 global priority.[7] The report notes that providing micronutrient supplements (vitamin A and zinc) for 80% of the 140 million children who lack essential vitamins would cost $60 million per year. This action would hold yearly benefits of more than $1 billion. Each dollar spent on the program would create benefits worth more than 17 dollars, seen in the form of better health, fewer deaths, increased future earnings, etc.[8]


Operation 20/20[edit]

Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children and increases the risk of disease and death from severe infections.[9] VAD affects between 100 and 140 million children every year. It is very prevalent in the developing world, with sixty-one countries considered priority countries for Vitamin A supplementation by UNICEF and WHO. Beyond this, thirty-five additional countries are considered to be less at risk, but still priority countries for Vitamin A programs.[10] In addition to overall health and immune system function, Vitamin A is an essential nutrient for eye health. It is estimated that 250,000 to 500,000 go blind from vitamin A deficiency every year, and half die within 12 months of losing their sight.

Vitamin Angels' Operation 20/20 aims to reduce child mortality and blindness associated with VAD by providing antiparastics and one high dose vitamin A capsule to children under five twice yearly. Their cost to provide vitamin A and antiparasitcs, including shipping and administrative costs, is 25 cents per child, per year.

In 2010 Vitamin Angels reached over 22.5 million children in 33 countries with vitamin A. [11]

Thrive to Five[edit]

Thrive to Five is Vitamin Angels' global multivitamin campaign. Thrive to Five aims to reach at-risk children with essential nutrients to alleviate the problem of global malnutrition by providing children under five and pregnant and lactating mothers with essential multivitamins.

Every year, millions of children are affected by malnutrition or undernutrition.[12] Through Thrive to Five, Vitamin Angels gives prenatal and postnatal supplements to pregnant and lactating mothers in order to provide necessary nutrition to babies in the womb and newborns, leading to better birth weights, proper bodily development, and lower overall mortality rates. Thrive to Five also provides children under five with multivitamins in order to improve growth, strengthen the immune system, and improve overall health.

In 2010, Thrive to Five reached over 300,000 children and women with multivitamins in 26 countries on four continents, including the United States.

Implementation Model[edit]

Vitamin Angels works by partnering with established in-country groups and organizations to reach children in the U.S. and abroad. By procuring micronutrient supplements and working with partners that have a local presence and understanding of the areas served, Vitamin Angels is able to reach underserved children around the globe.


Vitamin Angels has received a four star rating from Charity Navigator, a respected evaluator of non-profits in the U.S. Approximately 95% of all expenditures are dedicated to programs, 3% to Fundraising, and 2% to Administration.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "The Hidden Hunger" by Nicholas Kristof.
  5. ^ "Investing in the Future: A united call to action on vitamin and mineral deficiencies"
  6. ^ WHO Micronutrient Deficiencies.
  7. ^ Copenhagen Consensus 2008.
  8. ^ Copenhagen Consensus 2008 Results Paper
  9. ^ WHO Micronutrient Deficiencies.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Vitamin Angels - Providing Vital Nutrition to Children in Need
  12. ^ Vitamin Angels website

External links[edit]