Preparation of a Weaning Food Through Enrichment of Maize Meal with Potatoes (Ipomea batatas) Also Known as Orange Fleshed Sweet Potatoes (OFSP)
Background: Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and xerophthalmia is prevalent and contribute to morbidity and mortality especially in young children in developing countries. Vitamin A deficiency contributes up to 23% lives lost in children aged 6 to 59 months. Thanks to huge requirements in children aged less than 59 months, vitamin A supplementation has been adopted by countries with support from UNICEF and other development partners. Without vitamin A supplementation a typical child in a developing country is not able to attain and maintain the minimally adequate liver retinol stores [Children are vitamin A deficient with liver retinol stores <20 µg/dL (<0.693 µmol/L)]. However, vitamin A supplementation has faced a number of challenges which creates an avenue for other intervention strategies. Dietary diversity is important. Beta carotene is converted to retinol on a function of 1:2, therefore children would have to eat tenfold increase in portion sizes of fruits and vegetables. Food fortification and enrichment of a specific meal that provides the necessary dietary recommendations of the child in less than three food servings that would provide the necessary nutritional requirements at a low cost therefore making it valuable in developing countries.
Methods: Four OFSP varieties were procured from Embu in Kenya. The weaning food consisted of 20% maize (white) meal and 100% OFSP. Analysis was done on the composite flour and maize meal for pro-vitamin A. OFSP composite flour samples were analysed for pro vitamin A and comoared with recomended dietary allowance for children 6 to 59 months. The β-carotene nutrient retention of the weaning food was also calculated.
Results: two OFSP varieties had the highest pro vitamin A carotenoid content: Tauing (57.10 mg/kg) and Haspot (51.70 mg/kg). Addition of white maize meal was important to improve gelatinization during preparation. One kilogram of maize meal enriched with Tauing variety of sweet potatoes is estimated to contain 50.88 mg/kg pro vitamin A carotenoid .
Conclusion: white maize meal enriched with 80% OFSP is estimated to increase pro vitamin A carotenoid intake in children aged 6 to 59 months, contributing to a reduction in vitamin A deficiency in rural households.
Keywords: Xerophthalmia; retinol; RDA; Pro-vitamin A carotenoid, weaning food.
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