Vitamin composition of ethnic foods commonly consumed in Europe

Food Nutr Res. 2012:56. doi: 10.3402/fnr.v56i0.5639. Epub 2012 Apr 2.


Background: Vitamin analyses are particularly important for estimating dietary intakes, determining nutritional status and regulating food labelling. Due to the increased popularity of ethnic foods, the vitamin composition of these foods is required to ensure that national food databases are up-to-date.

Objectives: The key objective of this study was to generate new and reliable data on the contents of fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins A (all trans-retinol), D(3) & E (α-tocopherol) and those that are water-soluble (vitamins B(6), B(12), C, biotin, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and thiamin) in ethnic foods commonly consumed in Europe.

Design: Thirty commonly-consumed ethnic foods in Europe (from Belgium, France, Israel, Italy, The Netherlands, and the UK) were analysed using harmonised methodologies for identification of representative foods, sampling, data scrutiny and documentation to generate reliable data. Analyses were carried out using International standard methods.

Results: CERTAIN VITAMINS WERE PRESENT IN APPRECIABLE AMOUNTS: β-carotene in tayer leaves (7919µg/100g), thiamin in frik dry (0.24mg/100g), riboflavin in mbinzo worms (0.79mg/100g,) and niacin in commercial soy patty (17.5mg/100g). However, retinol, pantothenic acid, vitamins D and B(12) were below detectable levels in the majority of the foods analysed.

Conclusions: The majority of the foods contained most of the water-soluble vitamins but lacked fat-soluble vitamins. However, these preliminary data represent only a small number of foods per country and so no conclusions about vitamin imbalances can be drawn. Additional data are required on a much wider range of commonly-consumed ethnic foods to make firm conclusions about adequacy of diets.

Keywords: ethnic foods; food composition; immigrant foods; vitamins.