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Keywords:

  • vitamin A;
  • provitamin A carotenoids;
  • vegetables;
  • fruits;
  • home-gardens

Abstract

Vitamin A deficiency remains a public health problem in the developing world. The highest prevalence of vitamin A deficiency is in Africa and Asia (>30%). Dietary modification, a long-term strategy to address vitamin A deficiency, complements food fortification and vitamin A supplementation programmes. Provitamin A carotenoids from foods of plant origin are more affordable than preformed vitamin A from animal foods, and many resource-poor households rely on yellow/orange-fleshed vegetables and fruits and dark-green leafy vegetables as their main source of vitamin A. The provitamin A carotenoid content in plant foods varies widely and differences among cultivars of the same food exist. Several factors influence the bioavailability of provitamin A carotenoids. The potential contribution of plant foods to vitamin A status depends on the retention of provitamin A carotenoids after storage, preparation and processing. Home-gardens can provide households with direct access to provitamin A-rich vegetables that are not readily available or within their financial reach. The components and critical issues of home-garden projects are described. Copyright © 2006 Society of Chemical Industry