Beta-carotene from cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) leaves improves vitamin A status in rats.
ABSTRACT The bioavailability of beta-carotene from cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) leaves was assayed in vitamin A deficient Wistar rats (Rattus norvegicus). Rats were separated into three groups and fed with a modified AIN-93G--vitamin A deficient--diet. Deficient rat received this diet without any additional vitamin A source. Controls received the diet with 7200 microg of synthetic beta-carotene (control), while experimentals (test) received 19.5 g of cassava leaves powder per kg of diet. The cassava leaves with beta-carotene promotes similar growth and tissue weight in rats to the synthetic beta-carotene. The relative bioavailability, estimated as the Retinol Accumulation Factor (RAF), was 16.5 and 27.5 for control and test groups, respectively, indicating that control and test rats should have an intake of 16.5 microg or 27.5 microg of beta-carotene from synthetic form or cassava leaves powder for each 1 microg of hepatic retinol stored, respectively. The cassava leaves beta-carotene bioavailability was lower than the synthetic beta-carotene probably because the beta-carotene from the leaf matrix may be bounded to protein complex or inside organelles, which impair carotenoid absorption. Our findings showed that beside the hepatic retinol recovery, cassava leaf beta-carotene could maintain rat growth and avoid vitamin A deficient symptoms.