β-Carotene in Golden Rice is as good as β-carotene in oil at providing vitamin A to children

Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Sep;96(3):658-64. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.030775. Epub 2012 Aug 1.


Background: Golden Rice (GR) has been genetically engineered to be rich in β-carotene for use as a source of vitamin A.

Objective: The objective was to compare the vitamin A value of β-carotene in GR and in spinach with that of pure β-carotene in oil when consumed by children.

Design: Children (n = 68; age 6-8 y) were randomly assigned to consume GR or spinach (both grown in a nutrient solution containing 23 atom% ²H₂O) or [²H₈]β-carotene in an oil capsule. The GR and spinach β-carotene were enriched with deuterium (²H) with the highest abundance molecular mass (M) at M(β-C)+²H₁₀. [¹³C₁₀]Retinyl acetate in an oil capsule was administered as a reference dose. Serum samples collected from subjects were analyzed by using gas chromatography electron-capture negative chemical ionization mass spectrometry for the enrichments of labeled retinol: M(retinol)+4 (from [²H₈]β-carotene in oil), M(retinol)+5 (from GR or spinach [²H₁₀]β-carotene), and M(retinol)+10 (from [¹³C₁₀]retinyl acetate).

Results: Using the response to the dose of [¹³C₁₀]retinyl acetate (0.5 mg) as a reference, our results (with the use of AUC of molar enrichment at days 1, 3, 7, 14, and 21 after the labeled doses) showed that the conversions of pure β-carotene (0.5 mg), GR β-carotene (0.6 mg), and spinach β-carotene (1.4 mg) to retinol were 2.0, 2.3, and 7.5 to 1 by weight, respectively.

Conclusions: The β-carotene in GR is as effective as pure β-carotene in oil and better than that in spinach at providing vitamin A to children. A bowl of ~100 to 150 g cooked GR (50 g dry weight) can provide ~60% of the Chinese Recommended Nutrient Intake of vitamin A for 6-8-y-old children.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00680212.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Retracted Publication

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • China
  • Corn Oil / chemistry
  • Deuterium Oxide / metabolism
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Food, Genetically Modified*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Nutritive Value
  • Oryza / chemistry*
  • Oryza / genetics
  • Oryza / metabolism
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / chemistry
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / genetics
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / metabolism
  • Seeds / chemistry*
  • Seeds / genetics
  • Seeds / metabolism
  • Spinacia oleracea / chemistry
  • Spinacia oleracea / metabolism
  • Vitamin A / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin A / blood
  • Vitamin A / metabolism*
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / prevention & control
  • beta Carotene / administration & dosage
  • beta Carotene / blood
  • beta Carotene / metabolism*


  • beta Carotene
  • Vitamin A
  • Corn Oil
  • Deuterium Oxide

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00680212