Influence of carotene-rich vegetable meals on the prevalence of anaemia and iron deficiency in Filipino schoolchildren

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Objective:To determine the effects of eating carotene-rich green and yellow vegetables on the prevalence of anaemia, iron deficiency and iron-deficiency anaemia in schoolchildren.Subjects and methods:Schoolchildren (n=104), aged 9–12 years, received standardized meals containing 4.2 mg of provitamin A carotenoids/day (mainly β-carotene) from yellow and green leafy vegetables and at least 7 g dietary fat/day. The meals were provided three times/day, 5 days/week, for 9 weeks at school. Before and after the dietary intervention, total-body vitamin A pool size was assessed by using the deuterated-retinol-dilution method; serum retinol and β-carotene concentrations were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography; and whole blood haemoglobin (Hb) and zinc protoporphyrin (ZnPP) concentrations were measured by using a photometer and a hematofluorometer, respectively.Results:After 9 weeks, the mean total-body vitamin A pool size increased twofold (95% confidence interval (CI): •0.11, •0.07 μmol retinol; P<0.001), and serum β-carotene concentration increased fivefold (95% CI: •0.97, •0.79 μmol/l; P<0.001). Blood Hb (95% CI: •1.02, •0.52 g per 100 ml; P<0.001) and ZnPP increased (95% CI: •11.82, •4.57 μmol/mol haem; P<0.001). The prevalence of anaemia (Hb<11.5 g per 100 ml) decreased from 12.5 to 1.9% (P<0.001). There were no significant changes in the prevalence of iron deficiency or iron-deficiency anaemia.Conclusions:Ingestion of carotene-rich yellow and green leafy vegetables improves the total-body vitamin A pool size and Hb concentration, and decreases anaemia rates in Filipino schoolchildren, with no effect on iron deficiency or iron-deficiency anaemia rates.

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