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Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2004;13(4):336-40.

Carotenoid status among preschool children with vitamin A deficiency in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.


Although carotenoids are known to be important dietary sources of vitamin A, there have been few epidemiological studies that have characterized the serum concentrations of major dietary carotenoids among preschool children with vitamin A deficiency. We conducted a population-based, cross-sectional study of serum pro-vitamin A carotenoids (alpha -carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin), non-provitamin A carotenoids (lutein/zeaxanthin, and lycopene), and retinol among 278 children, aged 1-5 y, in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Vitamin A deficiency was defined as serum retinol <0.70 micromol/L. Geometric mean serum concentrations of carotenoids among children with and without vitamin A deficiency were 0.003 vs 0.006 micromol/L for alpha-carotene (P = 0.0017), 0.011 vs 0.023 micromol/L for beta-carotene (P <0.0001), 0.023 vs 0.034 micromol/L for beta-cryptoxanthin (P = 0.0075), 0.007 vs 0.012 micromol/L for lycopene (P = 0.037), 0.044 vs 0.052 micromol/L for lutein/zeaxanthin (P = 0.2), and 0.045 vs 0.074 micromol/L for total provitamin A carotenoids (P <0.0001) respectively. In a multivariate analysis adjusting for sex, age (Odds Ratio [O.R.] 1.44, 95% confidence interval [C.I.] 1.16-1.78), and serum provitamin A carotenoids (O.R. 0.49, 95% C.I. 0.34-0.71) were associated with vitamin A deficiency, but serum non-provitamin A carotenoids were not associated with vitamin A deficiency (O.R. 0.93, 95% C.I. 0.67-1.28). Preschool children with vitamin A deficiency in the Republic of the Marshall Islands have extremely low serum concentrations of provitamin A carotenoids and interventions are needed to improve the dietary intake of provitamin A carotenoids among Marshallese children.

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