Objectives: 1) Develop a database of carotenoids (BD-carotenoids) in foods widely consumed in Spain. 2) To assess the vitamin A nutritional status (expressed as retinol equivalents [RE] and retinol activity equivalents [RAE]) in young adults.
Methods: The BD-carotenoids includes data on carotenes (β-carotene, α-carotene and lycopene) and xanthophylls (β-cryptoxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin) generated by HPLC. Vitamin A intake was assessed by a 3-day food record in 54 adults (20-35 years of age, not obese and with serum retinol > 30 µg/dl), using the BD-carotenoids and a Food Composition Table widely used in Spain.
Results: The BD-carotenoids includes data on 89 foods (9 raw or boiled and 14 processed). The intake of provitamin-A carotenoids is 2.5 mg/p/d, that of RE 682 µg/p/d and that of RAE 499 µg/p/d. The vitamin A intake expressed as RAE is 27% lower than that expressed as RE. Seventy-six percent of the intake meets the daily intake recommendations and 63% meets the reference daily intakes of vitamin A.
Conclusions: Data on individual carotenoids ensure greater accuracy in studies on diet and health, and provide easier assessment of the vitamin A intake, expressed as RE, RAE, or any other future forms. The vitamin A intake expressed as RAE represents a substantial reduction in the carotenoid contribution to vitamin A intake, which enhances the detection of inadequacies of that intake.