The Vitamin and Mineral Nutrition Information System (VMNIS), formerly known as the Micronutrient Deficiency Information System (MDIS), was established in 1991 following a request by the World Health Assembly to strengthen surveillance of micronutrient deficiencies at the global level.

It is an information system comprised of five components that  complement each other:

  • Micronutrients Database;
  • Summaries of biological and physical indicators;
  • An early-stage database of laboratory capacity;
  • Tools for surveillance;
  • Publications.

This brief refers to the first item, the Micronutrients database, exclusively.

What is the VMNIS’ Micronutrients database?

It is a database that aims to support the surveillance of micronutrient deficiencies worldwide, at the national, regional and state/province levels.


  1. To systematically retrieve and summarize data on vitamin and mineral status of populations.
  2. To provide the Member States with up-to-date national, regional, and global assessments of the magnitude of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
  3. To track progress towards the goal of eliminating major vitamin and mineral deficiencies adopted by the international community.
  4. To monitor and evaluate, through systematic data collection over time, the impact of WHO strategies to prevent and control micronutrient deiciencies.

What data does the VMNIS’ Micronutrients database collect?

Biomarkers of the following:

  • Vitamins: vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin C, folate, riboflavin, thiamine, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin B6.
  • Minerals: iron, magnesium, iodine, calcium, zinc, copper, selenium
  • Anemia

See indicators section below for information on the exact biomarker.

Launched: 1991

Format: interactive database. You can create maps per biomarker  and download  or submit data.

Online availability: Yes, a pilot version can be found here, Use Internet Explorer for a better experience (it might not open on Chrome or Firefox).

Managed by: Evidence and Programme Guidance Unit. Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, WHO.

Data sources: Data collected from published reports and manuscripts and WHO’s network of regional and country offices, in close collaboration with national health authorities of member states.

Languages: Text in 6 UN languages. Data in English.

A VMNIS map. Countries that reported serum folate in non-pregnant women (July 2019)



Haemoglobin (Hb)

Iron Deficiency Anaemia

Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV)


Calcium (plasma or serum)



Serum transferrin receptor

Iron deficiency anaemia

Iron deficiency anaemia

Magnesium (plasma or serum)


Zinc (plasma or serum)


EYithrocyte transketolase activity coefficient (ETKAC)


Erythrocyte aspartate aminotransferase activation coefficient  (EAATAC)


Erythrocyte glutamate-oxaloacetate transaminase (EGOT)

vitamin d

25-Hydroxyvitamin D) (plasma or serum)


Vitamin E (alpha tocopherol in serum or plasma)

Vitamin E (gamma tocopherol in serum or plasma)

Iodine (urinary)


Goitre by ultrasound

Goitre by palpation


Copper (plasma or serum)


Selenium (plasma or serum)

Vitamin A

Retinol (plasma or serum)

Retinol Binding Protein



Retinol in breast milk


Erythrocyte glutathione reductase activity coefficient (EGRAC)

Vitamin C

Vitamin C (plasma or serum)


Folate (plasma or serum)

Folate (red blood cell)



Vitamin B12 (plasma or serum)

  1. Rogers LM, Cordero AM, Pfeiffer CM, Hausman DB, Tsang BL, De-Regil LM, Rosenthal J, Razzaghi H, Wong EC, Weakland AP, Bailey LB. Global folate status in women of reproductive age: a systematic review with emphasis on methodological issues. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2018 Nov;1431(1):35-57. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13963. Epub 2018 Sep 21. Available at
  2. Wirth JP; Petry N; Tanumihardjo SA; Rogers LM; McLean E; Greig A; Garrett GS; et al. Vitamin A Supplementation Programs and Country-Level Evidence of Vitamin A Deficiency. Nutrients 2017, 9(3), 190. Available at
  3. Stevens GA, Bennett JE, Hennocq Q, Lu Y, De-Regil LM, Rogers L, Danaei G, Li G, White RA, Flaxman SR, Oehrle SP, Finucane MM, Guerrero R, Bhutta ZA, Then-Paulino A, Fawzi W, Black RE, Ezzati M. Trends and mortality effects of vitamin A deficiency in children in 138 low-income and middle-income countries between 1991 and 2013: a pooled analysis of population-based surveys. Lancet Glob Health. 2015 Sep;3(9):e528-36. doi: 10.1016/S2214-109X(15)00039-X. Available at
  4. The global prevalence of anaemia in 2011. World Health Organization, 2015. (English only) Available at: 
  5. Stevens GA, Finucane MM, De-Regil LM, Paciorek CJ, Flaxman SR, Branca F, Peña-Rosas JP, Bhutta ZA, Ezzati M; Nutrition Impact Model Study Group (Anaemia). Global, regional, and national trends in haemoglobin concentration and prevalence of total and severe anaemia in children and pregnant and non-pregnant women for 1995-2011: a systematic analysis of population-representative data. Lancet Glob
    Health. 2013 Jul;1(1):e16-25. doi: 10.1016/S2214-109X(13)70001-9. Epub 2013 Jun 25. Available at
  6. Aburto NJ, Rogers L, De-Regil LM, Kuruchittham V, Rob G, Arif R, Peña-Rosas JP. An evaluation of a global vitamin and mineral nutrition surveillance system. Arch Latinoam Nutr. 2013 Jun;63(2):105-13. Available at
  7. Iodine deficiency in Europe. A continuing public health problem. WHO global database on iodine deficiency. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2007. (English only) Available at:
  8. Iodine status worldwide. WHO Global database on iodine deficiency. WHO global database on iodine deficiency. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2004. (English only) Available at:
  • The objective of this review is to provide a high level picture of the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the database.
  • This review is based on publicly available information and builds on the criteria developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for  public health surveillance systems.
  • The information was not validated by the organization hosting the database, in this case  WHO. 
  • Any relevant feedback on this review will be noted and incorporated into this page to keep it current. 



Attribute and Definition Subjective assessment
Simplicity:  Ease of operation and understability to managers.
  • The use of the database seems to require epidemiological expertise to assess and extract the data.
Flexibility: Ability to adapt to changing information needs or operating conditions.
  • The database includes a wide number of indicators and populations.
  • The data dictionary is available for download.
Data quality: Completeness and validity of the data.
  • As per the published methodology, WHO applies thorough and transparent criteria to include and process data.
  • Global estimates are validated by Member States.
Acceptability: Willingness of persons and organizations to participate in the system.
  • This database is highly regarded by users and Member States. It’s the “gold-standard” for micronutrients data.
Representativeness: Completeness in describing all sectors of the population under surveillance.
  • Representative of at least the first administrative level. Sample needs to be randomly selected.
Timeliness: Ability to provide results in a sufficiently short time span to ensure relevance of data.
  • The system seems to have enough technical capabilities for rapid updates. However any update would probably depend on the availability of human resources to assess, extract and validate the data.
  • It is unclear whether all the indicators are up to date. Oldest data is from 1968.
Stability: Ability to avoid failure and operate when needed
  • Once the information is entered the system, it seems stable.
  • WHO has maintained it for more than 25 years.
Friendliness: How easy is to use for an external audience.
  • You need to play a bit with the database to get familiar with it and understand its features.
  • By using simple tabs, users can download data on the micronutrient status of populations and create maps of the prevalence of key micronutrient deficiencies. At minimum, it is possible to depict data gaps.
  • The online platform requires Internet Explorer plus flash player. I tested the system several times and had no problem to display the maps and download the information for different indicators and populations.
  • It is not possible to select multiple populations per map, but the information can be downloaded for further analyses.
Financial support.
  • The list of donors is publicly available.