Serum retinol concentrations in children are affected by food sources of beta-carotene, fat intake, and anthelmintic drug treatment

Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Sep;68(3):623-9. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/68.3.623.


The provision of vitamin A in food sources of beta-carotene is an alternative to the distribution of high-dose capsules. To examine factors that may influence the success of food-based programs, a study was carried out in Sumatra, Indonesia, of the effect of food sources of beta-carotene, extra dietary fat, and Ascaris lumbricoides infection on serum retinol concentrations in children. Meals and snacks with various amounts of beta-carotene and fat were fed at midday to children 3-6 y of age for 3 wk. Some groups of children were dewormed with the anthelmintic levamisole before the feeding period, whereas others remained infected. Results showed that the incorporation of beta-carotene sources (mainly in the form of red sweet potatoes) into the meal significantly increased serum retinol concentrations. The greatest rise in serum retinol occurred when meals contained added beta-carotene sources and added fat and the children were dewormed. Adding more fat to the meal and deworming the children caused a rise in serum retinol similar to that seen when feeding additional beta-carotene sources. Moreover, the effects of fat and deworming together were additive to the effects of additional beta-carotene sources. When the meal contained additional beta-carotene sources, added fat caused a further improvement in serum retinol concentrations but only if A. lumbricoides infection was low. These studies indicated that food-based interventions in vitamin A-deficient areas might be successful and that other interventions such as increasing dietary fat concentrations and anthelmintic treatment should be considered along with increasing consumption of beta-carotene-rich food.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antinematodal Agents / pharmacology
  • Antinematodal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Ascariasis / drug therapy*
  • Ascaris lumbricoides*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Levamisole / pharmacology
  • Levamisole / therapeutic use*
  • Parasite Egg Count
  • Vitamin A / blood*
  • beta Carotene / administration & dosage*
  • beta Carotene / pharmacology


  • Antinematodal Agents
  • Dietary Fats
  • beta Carotene
  • Vitamin A
  • Levamisole