In many areas of the world, especially Africa and Southeast Asia, vitamin A deficiency is a major health problem, particularly in children and women. In addition, staple foods in these areas, such as rice, wheat, and maize, tend to be low in provitamin A. Efforts to breed maize for increased provitamin A have resulted in varieties with enhanced activity, but relatively low concentrations compared to carrots and other orange vegetables. In addition, low predicted bioconversion rates bring into question the bioefficacy of biofortified maize. Before breeding efforts continue, it is important to assess whether maize biofortification with provitamin A carotenoids can contribute to vitamin A status. This research investigated the bioefficacy of ß ‐ carotene in biofortified maize in vitamin A ‐ depleted Mongolian gerbils. Study 1 compared the bioefficacy of ß‐carotene from maize with vitamin A and ß ‐ carotene supplements, and study 2 investigated the effect of two types of maize at two dietary levels (i.e., four carotenoid concentrations) on vitamin A status.
Howe, Julie A. and Tanumihardjo, Sherry A. 2006. Carotenoid-biofortified maize maintains adequate vitamin A status in Mongolian gerbils. HarvestPlus Abstract 6. Washington, D.C.: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). http://ebrary.ifpri.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15738coll2/id/