Potential of Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potato in Increasing Vitamin A Dietary Intake in Up to 60-Month-Old Children in Laikipia, Kenya

JedidahWanjiku Kiharason

Abstract: Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) remains a significant nutritional problem globally, since about 33% pre-school children don’t get enough vitamin A in diets. Orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) that is rich in beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, can sustainably alleviate VAD. The OFSP has shown stable yields in many environments, and is popular among children. Consumption of OFSP can have a similar effect as Vitamin A capsules; it provides sustainable, cost-effective source of vitamin A to resource-poor families. This study performed cross-sectional questioning of 227 mothers of 25-60-month-old children to assess sweetpotato production and consumption in Laikipia District of Kenya. Assessment of night blindness followed the WHO recommended procedure, dietary intake of vitamin A estimation used a 24-hour recall by mothers, and worm infestation used interview of mothers. Results showed that 42% households grew and consumed sweet potatoes, with the majority (82.7%) dealing with the white-fleshed variety; 24.2% children had consumed sweet potatoes in the last 7 days; 3% had consumed adequately. Consumption did not depend on size of land for growing sweet potatoes, and maternal literacy did not affect vitamin A intake. Children (69%) consumed less than recommended vitamin A. Night blindness was absent due to uptake of vitamin A supplements during polio immunization campaign. Worm infestation was low (15% children) due to deworming before vitamin A capsules administration. Intake of 100 g of OFSP could provide at least a week’s requirement of vitamin A, considering Potentialstorage of extra intake of beta-carotene in the body, while production and consumption of
OFSP constitutes a sustainable source of vitamin A.

Keywords: 5-year-old Children, Carotenoid, Deworming, Night blindness, Nutrition

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