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Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 May;75(5):900-7.

Variability in conversion of beta-carotene to vitamin A in men as measured by using a double-tracer study design.

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1
Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The vitamin A activity of beta-carotene is variable and surprisingly low in women. The reasons for this are not well understood. The vitamin A activity of beta-carotene in men is still uncertain. Contributions of dietary factors compared with individual traits are largely unknown.

OBJECTIVE:

Our objective was to measure the intrinsic variability in the vitamin A activity of beta-carotene among healthy, well-fed men living in a controlled environment.

DESIGN:

We used a double-tracer test-retest design. We dosed 11 healthy men orally with 30 micromol hexadeuterated (D6) retinyl acetate (all-trans-19,19,19,20,20,20-[2H6]retinyl acetate) and then with 37 micromol D6 beta-carotene (19,19,19,19',19',19'-[2H6]beta-carotene) 1 wk later. Doses were taken with breakfasts containing 16 g fat. We measured D6 retinol, D6 beta-carotene, and trideuterated (D3) retinol (derived from D6 beta-carotene) concentrations in plasma. Areas under the plasma concentration x time since dosing curves (AUCs) were determined for D6 retinol, D6 beta-carotene, and D3 retinol.

RESULTS:

All men had detectable D6 retinol concentrations in plasma. The mean (+/-SE) absorption of D6 beta-carotene in all subjects was 2.235 +/- 0.925%, and the mean conversion ratio was 0.0296 +/- 0.0108 mol retinol to 1 mol beta-carotene. Only 6 of 11 men had sufficient plasma concentrations of D6 beta-carotene and D3 retinol that we could measure. The mean absorption of D6 beta-carotene in these 6 subjects was 4.097 +/- 1.208%, and the mean conversion ratio was 0.0540 +/- 0.0128 mol retinol to 1 mol beta-carotene.

CONCLUSION:

The vitamin A activity of beta-carotene, even when measured under controlled conditions, can be surprisingly low and variable.

PMID:
11976165
DOI:
10.1093/ajcn/75.5.900
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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