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Keywords:

  • coconut water;
  • intravenous;
  • trace elements;
  • minor elements;
  • parenteral nutrition

Abstract

Green coconut water (GCW; liquid endosperm) is sterile and has been used in the past in remote locations and/or during armed conflicts as a short-term intravenous hydration fluid. It is also conceivable to use GCW for total parenteral nutrition (TPN) under similar circumstances. Patients on TPN need elemental supplementation. Although data on the major elements (calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and phosphorus) found in GCW are abundant, very limited information concerning trace and minor element content in GCW is available. The purpose of this study was to determine trace and minor element content in GCW. Major elements were arbitrarily defined as those with a GCW concentration in the mM range, as opposed to minor ones in the μM range and trace elements in the nM range. The values determined show the great variability typical for samples of plant origin. Under TPN conditions, GCW (1,000 mL/day) would be able to provide adequate supplementation of manganese (12 ± 5 μmol/L) and possibly zinc (6 ± 1 μmol/L) but not chromium (not detected, i.e., less than 9 nM/L) and copper (105 ± 100 nM/L). With respect to elements usually considered nonessential or even toxic, GCW compares favorably with commonly used TPN solutions, most notably for aluminium content (740 ± 360 nM/L) and cadmium (7 ± 4 nM/L). The levels of lead (150 ± 67 nmol/L) and barium (600 ± 300 nmol/L) were similar to those typically found in commercial TPN solutions. Those of strontium (8 ± 4 μmol/L) are higher but unlikely to be harmful. In conclusion, although GCW is not completely equivalent to high-tech (and high-cost) TPN solutions with trace element supplements, it still may provide sufficient support of at least some of the trace elements if used as a substitute. The GCW investigated by us is, at least, not toxic. However, our results for several trace elements are much lower than values previously reported in the literature, especially in coconuts from “polluted” areas. GCW from polluted soil might be easily toxic if used intravenously. J. Trace Elem. Exp. Med. 17:273–282, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.