The challenge to reach nutritional adequacy for vitamin A: β-carotene bioavailability and conversion—evidence in humans

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URL: https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/96/5/1193S/4577160

Journal: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Publication Date: 10/2012

Summary: β-Carotene is an important dietary source of vitamin A for humans. However, the bioavailability and vitamin A equivalency of β-carotene are highly variable and can be affected by food- and diet-related factors, including the food matrix, food-processing techniques, size of the dose of β-carotene, and the amounts of dietary fat, fiber, vitamin A, and other carotenoids in the diet as well as by characteristics of the target population, such as vitamin A status, nutrient deficiencies, gut integrity, and genetic polymorphisms associated with β-carotene metabolism. The absorption of β-carotene from plant sources ranges from 5% to 65% in humans. Vitamin A equivalency ratios for β-carotene to vitamin A from plant sources range from 3.8:1 to 28:1, by weight. Vitamin A equivalency ratios for β-carotene from biofortified Golden Rice or biofortified maize are 3.8:1 and 6.5:1, respectively, and are lower than ratios for vegetables that have more complex food matrices (10:1 to 28:1). The vitamin A equivalency of β-carotene is likely to be context-specific and dependent on specific food- and diet-related factors and the health, nutritional, and genetic characteristics of human populations. Although the vitamin A equivalency of β-carotene is highly variable, the provision of vegetable and fruit sources of β-carotene has significantly increased vitamin A status in women and children in community settings in developing countries; these results support the inclusion of dietary interventions with plant sources of β-carotene as a strategy for increasing vitamin A status in populations at risk of deficiency.

Key Takeaways

Plant based sources of vitamin A are derived from carotenoids. Vitamin A activity of these carotenoids is multiple times less than the actual level of carotenoid in the plant. Additionally, carotenoids are not fully absorbed by the gut, which further diminishes their ability for use as Vitamin A.

Plant Based Sources Of Vitamin A Are Less Than You Think

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