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Br J Nutr. 2008 Mar;99(3):581-97. Epub 2007 Oct 10.

Effect of consumption of the nutrient-dense, freshwater small fish Amblypharyngodon mola on biochemical indicators of vitamin A status in Bangladeshi children: a randomised, controlled study of efficacy.

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Department of Human Nutrition, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Rolighedsvej 30, 1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark.


In Bangladesh, some commonly consumed, indigenous, freshwater small fish species (eaten whole with bone, head and eyes) such as mola (Amblypharyngodon mola) are nutrient-dense, containing preformed vitamin A as retinol and especially 3,4-dehydroretinol. The objective of the present randomised, controlled efficacy study was to evaluate the effects of mola on biochemical indicators of vitamin A status. Children (n 196), aged 3-7 years, with serum retinol 0.36-0.75 micromol/l, were randomly allocated to one of three treatment groups to receive a daily test meal (6 d/week for 9 weeks) of rice and vegetable curry (no vitamin A) ad libitum and 50 g fish curry consisting of: (1) mola, 600 retinol activity equivalents (RAE) (using 40 % biological activity of 3,4-dehydroretinol isomers) (experimental group, n 66); (2) rui (Labeo rohita), a large fish (no vitamin A), with added retinyl palmitate, 600 RAE (positive control group, n 65); or (3) rui, 0 RAE (negative control group, n 65). The nutrient compositions of the dishes were analysed. After 9 weeks, no significant treatment effects were observed for serum retinol (P = 0.52) and retinol-binding protein (P = 0.81) in the experimental group compared with the negative control, whereas the positive control improved significantly (P < 0.001). The present results do not suggest conversion of the large amount of 3,4-dehydroretinol in mola curry to retinol. Further research on the functional effect of mola in humans is needed. Mola is a nutrient-dense animal-source food, rich in haem Fe, Zn and especially Ca, thus consumption of mola in Bangladesh should continue to be encouraged.

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