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

Br J Nutr. 2008 Mar;99(3):581-97. doi: 10.1017/S000711450781912X. Epub 2007 Oct 10.


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.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthropometry
  • Bangladesh
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developing Countries
  • Diterpenes
  • Female
  • Fishes*
  • Food Analysis / methods
  • Fresh Water
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutritive Value
  • Patient Compliance
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vitamin A / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin A / analysis
  • Vitamin A / blood
  • Vitamin A / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / diet therapy*


  • Diterpenes
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins
  • Vitamin A
  • retinol palmitate