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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Dietary Modulation of Immune Function and Oxidative Stress

Location: Immunity and Disease Prevention Research Unit

Title: Bioavailability of iron, zinc, and provitamin A carotenoids in biofortified staple crops

Authors
item La Frano, Michael -
item DE Moura, Fabiana -
item Boy, Erick -
item Lonnerdal, Bo -
item Burri, Betty

Submitted to: Nutrition Reviews
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: February 1, 2014
Publication Date: March 1, 2014
Citation: La Frano, M.R., De Moura, F.F., Boy, E., Lonnerdal, B., Burri, B.J. 2014. Bioavailability of iron, zinc, and provitamin A carotenoids in biofortified staple crops. Nutrition Reviews. 72(5)289-307. DOI:10.1111/nure.12108.

Interpretive Summary: Researchers are breeding crops with greater concentrations of micronutrients. Staple crops (corn, rice, cassava, beans, wheat, sweet potatoes, and millet) are cross-bred to increase concentrations of iron, zinc, and vitamin A-forming carotenoids. This article reviews the factors that influence the concentrations or bioaccessibility of zinc, iron, and provitamin A-carotenoids in staple crops. Food processing generally improves bioavailability. However, it also usually results in micronutrient loss. In general, foods that had relatively high micronutrient densities also provided higher total micronutrient absorption. Results show that breeding efforts that increase micronutrient concentrations in staple crops are useful, and probably necessary to offset losses from food processing.

Technical Abstract: International research efforts, including those funded by HarvestPlus, are using conventional plant breeding to biofortify staple crops such as maize, rice, cassava, beans, wheat, sweet potatoes, and pearl millet, increasing the concentrations of micronutrients that are commonly deficient in specific population groups of developing countries. Questions remain about the efficacy of these crops for improving population micronutrient status due to their poor micronutrient bioavailability. This is a review of current studies of biofortified crops, to assess their micronutrient bioavailability in order to derive lessons that may help direct plant breeding and infer their potential efficacy as food-based nutrition interventions. Dietary factors such as decreased antinutrients and food processing generally increased micronutrient bioavailability. However, antinutrients possess important benefits and food processing results in micronutrient loss. In general, biofortified foods with relatively higher micronutrient density had higher total absorption than non-biofortified varieties. Thus, evidence supports the focus on breeding efforts to continue increasing micronutrient concentrations in order to decrease the influence of inhibitors and offset losses from processing.

Last Modified: 11/25/2014
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