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J Nutr. 2001 May;131(5):1497-502.

Supplementing lactating women with puréed papaya and grated carrots improved vitamin A status in a placebo-controlled trial.

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Section for International Maternal and Child Health, Department of Women's and Children's Health, University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden.


Doubts have been raised about the effectiveness of carotene-containing foods in improving the vitamin A status of populations at risk. We investigated the effect of papaya and carrots on the vitamin A status of lactating women with 2- to 12-mo-old infants in ZIMBABWE: The women were randomly assigned to three supplementation groups and a placebo group, and received 6 mg of beta-carotene capsules, 650 g puréed papaya, 100 g grated carrots or a placebo, daily for 60 d. All groups were given a meal containing 10 g of vegetable oil daily. Serum retinol, relative dose response, serum ferritin, hemoglobin and C-reactive protein were measured before and after the supplementation period. Mean serum retinol increased significantly after supplementation in the beta-carotene group (P < 0.001), the papaya group (P < 0.001) and the carrot group (P < 0.001), but not in the placebo group (P > 0.05). The relative dose response decreased significantly (P < 0.05) in the beta-carotene and papaya groups, but not in the carrot or placebo groups (P > 0.05). There was an increase in mean serum ferritin in all groups but the increase did not differ among groups. The hemoglobin increases in the beta-carotene and papaya groups were greater than that in the placebo group. We conclude that puréed papaya and grated carrots can improve the vitamin A and iron nutriture of lactating women. These findings reinforce the importance of plant food-based approaches in the control of vitamin A deficiency in low income countries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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