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The Influence of Iron and Zinc Supplementation on the Bioavailability of Provitamin A Carotenoids from Papaya Following Consumption of a Vitamin A-Deficient Diet

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Abstract

Iron deficiency anemia, zinc and vitamin A deficiencies are serious public health problems in Cameroon, as in many developing countries. Local vegetables which are sources of provitamin A carotenoids (PACs) can be used to improve vitamin A intakes. However, traditional meals are often unable to cover zinc and iron needs. The aim of this study was to determine the bioavailability of 3 PACs (α-carotene, β-carotene, and β-cryptoxanthin) in young men, who were fed with a vitamin A-free diet and received iron and zinc supplementation. Twelve healthy participants were divided into three groups and were supplemented with elemental iron (20 mg of iron fumarate), 20 mg of zinc sulfate or iron+zinc (20 mg of iron in the morning and 20 mg of zinc in the evening) for 11 d. They were given a vitamin A- and PAC-free diet from the 6th to the 11th day, followed by a test meal containing 0.55 kg of freshly peeled papaya as a source of PACs. Blood samples were collected four times successively on the 11th day (the test meal day), at T0 (just after the test meal), after 2 h (T2), after 4 h (T4) and after 7 h (T7). Ultracentrifugation was used to isolate serum chylomicrons. Retinol appearance and PAC postprandial concentrations were determined. The supplementation with zinc, iron and iron+zinc influenced the chylomicron appearance of retinol and PACs differently as reflected by retention times and maximum absorption peaks. Iron led to highest retinol levels in the chylomicron. Zinc and iron+zinc supplements were best for optimal intact appearance of α-carotene, β-carotene and β-cryptoxanthin respectively. Supplementation with iron led to the greatest bioavailability of PACs from papaya and its conversion to retinol.

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