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Dietary carotenoids and their role in combating vitamin A deficiency: a review of the literature. *

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the evidence that carotene-rich fruits and vegetables can overcome vitamin A deficiency.

DESIGN: Results of studies on the relationship between dietary carotenoids and vitamin A deficiency were evaluated critically.

RESULTS: Increased intake of fruits and vegetables has been shown to be related to improved vitamin A status in many cross-sectional, case-control and community-based studies, but this does not prove causality of the relationship. Many experimental studies indicating a positive effect of fruits and vegetables can be criticized for their poor experimental design while recent experimental studies have found no effect of vegetables on vitamin A status.

Thus, it is too early to draw firm conclusions about the role of carotene-rich fruits and vegetables in overcoming vitamin A deficiency. Bioavailability of dietary carotenoids and their conversion to retinol are influenced by the following factors: Species of carotene; molecular Linkage; Amount of carotene in a meal; Matrix in which the carotenoid is incorporated; Absorption modifiers; Nutrient status of the host; Genetic factors; Host-related factors and Interactions (SLAMANGHI). Studies are required to quantify the impact of these factors, especially of the matrix, host-related factors and absorption modifiers.

CONCLUSIONS: The effectiveness of carotene-rich foods in improving vitamin A status and ways of improving carotene bioavailability need further investigation.

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As with any procedure, there could be pain or other substantial risks involved. These concerns should be discussed with your health care provider prior to any treatment so that you have proper informed consent and understand that there are no guarantees to healing.

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Published on 08-19-2006