Author(s): Nambiar VS, Seshadri S
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Abstract Male albino rats (Charles Foster, n = 40) were fed a synthetic diet deficient in vitamin A for 4 weeks. Six rats died during the depletion period. Of the 34 surviving, 5 rats were continued on the vitamin A deficient diet for 4 more weeks and 24 were repleted with vitamin A (4000 IU/kg diet) in the form of vitamin A acetate (group A, n = 8), fresh drumstick leaves (group B, n = 8) or dehydrated drumstick leaves (group C, n = 8) for 4 weeks. The remaining 10 rats were continued on the vitamin A adequate diet for 4 (n = 5) and 8 weeks, respectively (n = 5). A marked reduction in food intake, body weight, accompanied by clinical signs of vitamin A deficiency and a decline in serum vitamin A (29.2 to 19.1 microg/dL) and liver vitamin A (3.7 to 2.0 microg/dL) were seen at the end of 4 weeks of feeding a vitamin A deficient diet. On repletion significant improvements in clinical signs, food intake and body weights were noted in the three groups compared to the baseline (n = 5) and at the end of 4 weeks of depletion. The gain in body weight was highest for the group repleted with dehydrated drumstick leaves. Among the repleted groups, the serum vitamin A was highest for group A (34.7 microg/dL) given synthetic vitamin A, compared to group B (25.8 microg/dL) and group C (28.2 microg/dL) given drumstick leaves. All these were significantly higher than the serum vitamin A values seen at the end of 4 weeks of depletion (19.1 microg/dL). A significant improvement was also observed in the liver retinol levels on repletion for 4 weeks in the three groups, compared to the vitamin A depleted rats. These results imply that beta-carotene from drumstick leaves was effective in overcoming vitamin A deficiency although serum vitamin A levels remained somewhat lower compared to the group repleted with vitamin A acetate. In terms of growth parameters, the fresh and dehydrated drumstick leaves were better than the synthetic vitamin A. It is therefore concluded that in the developing countries like India, sources of vitamin A such as drumstick leaves are valuable in overcoming the problem of vitamin A deficiency.
This article was published in Plant Foods Hum Nutr
and referenced in Medicinal & Aromatic Plants