Send to

Choose Destination
J Am Coll Nutr. 2010 Jun;29(3 Suppl):302S-313S.

Moving from efficacy to effectiveness: red palm oil's role in preventing vitamin A deficiency.

Author information

Social Sectors Development Strategies, Inc., Boston, MA 02118, USA.


Vitamin A deficiency is one of the most widespread nutritional deficiencies worldwide. Hundreds of millions of children and tens of millions of women living in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia are at particularly high risk of the adverse health consequences associated with this largely preventable condition. Red palm oil comes from oil palms that are traditionally grown in tropical regions of West Africa and are now cultivated on a large-scale commercial basis in Southeast Asia. Red palm oil is the richest naturally occurring source of beta-carotene, a carotenoid that the human body can convert into usable vitamin A (retinol). This paper reviews a series of key intervention studies designed to investigate the impact of using red palm oil-based interventions to improve vitamin A status. These included studies from Africa, Asia, and Latin America in which red palm oil was used (or proposed for use) (1) as a dietary supplement, (2) as an in-home fortificant, (3) to fortify foods used for distribution in targeted supplementary feeding programs, and (4) to fortify staple food products. Overall, the results suggest that red palm oil is highly efficacious in improving vitamin A status among populations at risk of vitamin A deficiency. The time has come to move beyond trials of biological efficacy and focus on conducting operational research projects, effectiveness trials, and cost-benefit analyses that will help expand the use of red palm oil in areas where it is likely to be well accepted but remains underutilized as a dietary source of provitamin A.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center