Inderscience Publishers

Vitamin A content of traditional leafy vegetables consumed by the Luo people of western Kenya

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Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) causes numerous health problems in developing countries, including the sub–Saharan Africa. VAD is one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality in children, and also affects lactating mothers and the elderly. The main objectives of the study were to identify, collect and analyse traditional, leafy vegetables for pro–vitamin A carotenoids and tocopherols. A total of 15 domesticated and 36 wild traditional leafy vegetable species were collected and analysed. The species that contained the highest amounts of –carotene, lutein and –tocopherol was Erythrococca bongensis Pax (5.3, 60.7 and 220.7 mg/kg DM, respectively). The results showed that wild plant species generally contained higher levels of pro–vitamin A carotenoids than the domesticated vegetable species and varieties. The study concluded that traditional, leafy vegetables (domesticated and wild) have the potential to prevent or combat VAD amongst the general rural population in developing countries.

Keywords: vitamin A deficiency, traditional vegetables, leafy vegetables, Kenya, rural population, developing countries

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