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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The contribution of plant foods to the vitamin A supply of lactating women in Vietnam: a randomized controlled trial.

BACKGROUND: More information is needed on the efficacy of carotenoids from plant foods in improving vitamin A status. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to quantify the efficacy of provitamin A-rich vegetables and fruit in improving vitamin A status. DESIGN: Breastfeeding women in 9 rural communes in Vietnam were randomly allocated to 1 of 4 groups: the vegetable group (n = 73), which ingested 5.6 mg beta-carotene/d from green leafy vegetables; the fruit group (n = 69), which ingested 4.8 mg beta-carotene/d from orange or yellow fruit; the retinol-rich group (n = 70), which ingested 610 microg retinol/d from animal foods and 0.6 mg beta-carotene/d; and the control group (n = 68), which ingested 0.4 mg beta-carotene/d. Meals of groups 1, 2, and 4 contained <30 microg retinol/d. Lunch and dinner were provided 6 d/wk for 10 wk. RESULTS: Mean (95% CI) changes in serum retinol concentrations of the vegetable, fruit, retinol-rich, and control groups were 0.09 (0.03, 0.16), 0.13 (0.07, 0.19), 0.25 (0.17, 0.33), and 0.00 (-0.06, 0.06) micromol/L, respectively. Mean (95% CI) changes in breast-milk retinol concentrations were 0.15 (0.04, 0.27), 0.15 (0.02, 0.28), 0.48 (0.32, 0.64), and -0.06 (-0.21, 0.09) micromol/L, respectively. According to these findings, the equivalent of 1 microg retinol would be 12 microg beta-carotene (95% CI: 8, 22 microg) for fruit and 28 microg beta-carotene (17, 84 microg) for green leafy vegetables. Thus, apparent mean vitamin A activity of carotenoids in fruit and in leafy vegetables was 50% (95% CI: 27%, 75%) and 21% (7%, 35%), respectively, of that assumed. CONCLUSION: The bioavailability of carotenoids from vegetables and fruit is less than previously assumed.[1]


  1. The contribution of plant foods to the vitamin A supply of lactating women in Vietnam: a randomized controlled trial. Khan, N.C., West, C.E., de Pee, S., Bosch, D., Phuong, H.D., Hulshof, P.J., Khoi, H.H., Verhoef, H., Hautvast, J.G. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. (2007) [Pubmed]
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