African indigenous leafy vegetables as a potential source of β-carotene for under five year old children.
Atero, Angella Atwaru
MetadataShow full item record
This study was designed to assess the adequacy of African indigenous leafy vegetables in meeting vitamin A needs of children below the age of five years in Iganga and Luuka districts. East Central Uganda where Iganga and Luuka districts are located, recorded the second highest VAD levels in the whole country at 39.7% (UBOS & Macro International 2011. These districts though characterized by a rich plant biodiversity which includes indigenous green leafy vegetables have not benefited from these vegetables. Whereas the vegetables are the most available source of pro-vitamin A for the poor populations of the developing world, Luuka and Iganga districts were recorded as vitamin A deficient populations. Hence establishing the role leafy vegetables contribute towards vitamin A intake for vulnerable groups is an effort to reducing VAD. Data was collected from 363 children in July 2008 in the wet season. Consumption and dietary information on the children was collected using Gibson’s 24 Hour Dietary recall, qualitative food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) and level β-carotene in the leafy vegetables was determined using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). Anthropometric data on the children was also collected. Data was analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) at p<0.05 level of significance and Nutri-survey was used to quantify energy and nutrient intakes of foods consumed 24 hours preceding the survey. Of the 21 species of indigenous leafy vegetables in the area, only four were commonly consumed and these included; Amaranthus dubious (booga)(93.7%), Cucurbita maxima Lam (eisunsa) (83.2%)), Colocasia esculenta (timpa)(72.5%), and Cleome gynandra (eiyobyo)(66.3%). These vegetables were analyzed for β-carotene content. The β-carotene in Colocassia esculenta and Cleome gynandra was on average 13.48 and 14.25 mg/100g dry wt. respectively. These two vegetables contained higher amounts of β-carotene compared to other vegetables analyzed. Compared to other food groups leafy vegetables and other vitamin A rich foods were among the least consumed (27%). Much as vitamin A levels in these commonly consumed leafy vegetables averaged at 1032 µg and therefore adequate to significantly contribute to the vitamin A needs of the children, the children were still malnourished. Therefore indigenous leafy vegetables have not been adequate in meeting the Vitamin A needs of children 6-59 months because of their low consumption even though their Vitamin A levels are high enough. Therefore increased consumption of indigenous leafy vegetables coupled with vitamin A supplementation, biofortification/fortifying staples and diversifying food intake may effectively address the problem of VAD.