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Clinical Trial
. 2001 Aug;55(8):657-62.
doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601196.

The Effect of a Biscuit With Red Palm Oil as a Source of Beta-Carotene on the Vitamin A Status of Primary School Children: A Comparison With Beta-Carotene From a Synthetic Source in a Randomised Controlled Trial

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Clinical Trial

The Effect of a Biscuit With Red Palm Oil as a Source of Beta-Carotene on the Vitamin A Status of Primary School Children: A Comparison With Beta-Carotene From a Synthetic Source in a Randomised Controlled Trial

M E van Stuijvenberg et al. Eur J Clin Nutr. .
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Abstract

Objective: To determine the effect of a biscuit with red palm oil as a source of beta-carotene on the vitamin A status of primary school children and to compare this with the effect of a biscuit with beta-carotene from a synthetic source.

Design: Randomised controlled trial.

Setting: A rural community in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Subjects: A total of 437 primary school children, aged 5--11 y; 400 completed the study.

Intervention: Subjects were randomly assigned to one of three groups, receiving, respectively: (i) a placebo biscuit; (ii) a biscuit with synthetic beta-carotene as a vitamin A fortificant (SB); (iii) a biscuit with red palm oil as a source of beta-carotene (PB); SB and PB supplied 30% of the RDA for vitamin A per serving of three biscuits. Biscuits were distributed daily during the school week; vitamin A status was assessed at baseline and after 3 months.

Results: There was a significant improvement in serum retinol compared to the control group in both the SB and PB groups (P<0.005); the treatment effect for the two groups was equivalent (difference in treatment effect 0.62 microg/dl, with a 90% CI -0.33--1.57).

Conclusions: A biscuit with red palm oil as a source of beta-carotene is as effective as a biscuit with synthetic beta-carotene in improving the vitamin A status of primary school children. The additional qualities of red palm oil (ie no trans fatty acids; rich source of antioxidants) make it an excellent alternative fortificant for addressing vitamin A deficiency.

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