Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that supports growth, immune function and vision in humans. Vitamin A deficiency is primarily a public health concern in developing countries where dietary sources of vitamin A are not as available as they are in industrialized countries. Vitamin A can be obtained from carotenoids (primarily beta-carotene) in certain plant products such as dark green, leafy vegetables and dark orange fruits and vegetables such as sweet potato and mango. However, red palm oil is the richest naturally occurring source of beta-carotene. It contains a total of 500-800 mg of pro-vitamin A carotenoids/ kg oil which is 15 times greater than the carotenoid contents of a carrot. Not only is red palm oil a rich source of beta-carotene, but the carotenoids that it contains are easily absorbed because they are already dissolved in oil. For these reasons, red palm oil is a plant food that solves the problem of poor bioavailability (Burns & Rice, 2013).
Red palm oil has been an important cooking oil in the diets of populations living near the tropical rain forest because the palm oils originated in the rain forest regions of West Africa (Burns and Rice, 2013). In its natural state, red palm oil has a bright color and strong taste. Its distinctive flavor could diminish its chances of acceptance but because it is highly concentrated, it has authority over other food-based interventions to improve vitamin A deficiency (10 grams of red palm oil can provide over 40 mg of pro-vitamin A carotenoids) (Burri, 2012). This means that it does not need to be consumed in large amounts and that it should not be consumed on a daily basis. Few studies have i...
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...e red palm oil is refined, its chances of serving as a nutritional supplement are reduced.
Brahman, G. N. V., Manorama, R., & Rukmini, C. (1996). Red Palm Oil as a Source of Beta-Carotene for Combating Vitamin A Deficiency. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, 49, 75-82.
Burns, J. B., & Rice, A. L. (2013). Moving from efficacy to effectiveness: Red palm oil. Journal of American College of Nutrition, 29(3), 302-313. doi:10.1080/07315724.2010.1071984
Burri, B. J. (2012). Evaluating Global Barriers to the Use of Red Palm Oil as an Intervention Food to Prevent Vitamin A Deﬁciency. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 11, 221-232. doi: doi: 10.1111/j.1541-4337.2011.00181.x
Manorama, R., & Rukmini, C., Sarita, M., (1997). Red Palm Oil for Combating Vitamin A Deficiency. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 6(1), 56-59.
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