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Open Access Potential use of red palm oil in combating vitamin A deficiency in India

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Vitamin A deficiency is widespread among pre-school children in India. Severe forms of vitamin A deficiency lead to nutritional blindness. Massive-dose vitamin A prophylaxis has been in operation in India since the early 1970s to prevent nutritional blindness. With a decline in the severe forms of vitamin A deficiency, the emphasis has shifted to a food-based approach to control the still widespread mild to moderate forms of vitamin A deficiency by promoting consumption of carotene-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables. Compared with these sources, red palm oil is a richer source of carotenes, with 500–600 μg of carotenes per gram of oil. Further, the carotenes in red palm oil may be better absorbed than carotenes from other plant sources because they are in an oil medium,. The value of red palm oil as a rich source of carotenes to cure and prevent vitamin A deficiency was recognized and studied in India as far back as the mid-1930s. Later, during the 1980s, systematic studies in both animals and humans established the safety, acceptability, and nutritional potential of crude red palm oil as a rich source of provitamin A. During the early 1990s, community studies were carried out with edible-grade crude palm oil to improve the vitamin A status of children and mothers. With the current availability of highly refined edible-grade red palm oil, its use as a source of provitamin A at home and in feeding programmes for children should pose no problem, because it is more acceptable than crude palm oil. It can indeed prove to be a potential source of carotene to eradicate vitamin A deficiency in the country.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2000

More about this publication?
  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106

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